How to manage anxiety.
Those of us who have ever suffered with anxiety, know that it can be debilitating so firstly we need to understand what anxiety is.
It all starts with worry. Worry is a perfectly normal and sometimes helpful emotion. When we worry, the brain produces adrenaline and puts us into a flight or fight mode. When extra adrenaline is being produced, the brain reduces the capacity of other bodily functions to allow it to focus on the task in hand. Unfortunately, problem solving is one of the first functions to be reduced. Acknowledging that we are worried and using our coping skills to problem solve the situation so that we are no longer worried, provides us with life skills and promotes resilience. However, left unchecked worry can become anxiety and that is when we can find ourselves in an unhelpful cycle or worry causing anxiety which causes us to worry more. You get the drift, like me, you've probably been there.
Anxiety is a combination of worry, adrenaline and a reduced ability to problem solve. The more anxious we become, the more adrenaline we produce, the less we are able to problem solve effectively and so the cycle continues.
Anxiety manifests in our body as one or more of many symptoms which can include these:
Butterflies in the stomach.
Feeling light headed or dizzy
Pins and needles.
Faster breathing and heartbeat.
Needing the toilet more often
Reduced sex drive
Grinding of the teeth
It manifests in our mind in many ways and can include some of the following:
Fearing the worst
Feeling that things will go wrong if your not worrying about them.
Worrying that people are angry with you.
Overthinking and feeling disconnected
How can we reduce our feelings of anxiety?
We first need to acquire coping skills to reduce the production of adrenaline when we become aware that we are worrying.
Coping skills can include,:
Going for a walk
Writing a list of all that is worrying you and then coming up with tasks for all the things you have some influence over,
Using affirmations and
Changing your mindset.
Change your mind, change your life.
The law of attraction states that we attract what we focus on.
If we are constantly worried and waiting for things to go wrong, we will be presented with more opportunities to be worried and have thing go wrong.
Instead of allowing life to sweep you along, start to take control of the things that cause you anxiety. For example, if it's a social situation, plan what to wear and how to get there in advance and have one alternative for each so that you have a plan B. Work out a few sentences that you can use with people that you don't know to reduce the risk of you becoming tongue tied. Have an exit plan in place so that if you feel overwhelmed, you can leave gracefully without drawing attention to your discomfort. These strategies will give you a sense of control, reduce the number of things to worry about and build confidence.
Another effective strategy is SWOT analysis. Plan out how you want a situation to be and then divide a piece of paper into four sections with the following headings:
Strengths – what you bring to the situation and what will go well about it.
Weaknesses – what characteristics or habits need to be supported for this plan to work.
Opportunities – where you can gather support from. This could be more information, support from friends and family or an organisation that specialises in what it is that you need.
Threats.- These are things outside of you that while you can't control them, you can look ahead and problem solve to minimise any disruption they might cause.
These strategies used in conjunction with the coping skills described above can empower you to take control of your life, reduce your worry and manage your anxiety effectively so that it no longer controls your life.
If you would like more information or support with dealing with anxiety please get in touch.
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