Tools for managing anxiety

by | Sep 8, 2021 | Education

Anxiety shows up in everyday lives. When we go for a drive, when we are about to write an exam, when we start a new job, when we meet new people. Anxiety is there to alert us to potential threats. When we experience anxiety, it shows that our body is doing the job but sometimes at the wrong time and wrong place. Anxiety is like a false alarm. It rings and tells us when we should be worried and it notifies us but sometimes, that fire may not be there. But if a fire was to actually happen, you need to know that the alarm is working. So, in some way, when the fire alarm goes on, we all know that it is working. Similar to anxiety, when we see it working, we know our body is keeping us safe and protecting us. However, when anxiety overtakes our emotions and body sensations, that is when it may not be in the favour of us. 

So how can we try and eliminate this? Well, anxiety is not something we can eliminate because without it, we cannot survive. So in better ways, how can we help manage these emotions. Here are some of the tools I found helpful for me managing anxieties. 

  1. Journaling 

First we need to understand our own anxieties. Some anxieties may show up stronger in different situations for different people. For example, if you had experienced a car accident that left you in a big shock could bring a very high anxious feeling to you when you go in the car or see a car.  Someone who has experienced a difficult and painful relationship breakup may start to feel anxious during a first date, and others may be bullied when they were young and moving could cause an anxious feeling. We all have anxieties that show up in different ways. Hence, journaling can really help us understand where the anxiety is coming up strong and when. First you can write your anxieties that are coming up then write down those thoughts/feelings. Then write down, “how likely is this going to happen, and how sure you are that this will happen?” Once you determine the likelihood, then ask “If this does happen, what is going to happen to me? Is this a negative experience if it does happen, or is it a positive experience?” Other things you could write would be “what are some memories that are coming up?” When you come up with all of the information, take a step back and come back to it again after taking some deep breaths. Then look into these challenging thoughts with curiosity.  Question “Can I look at these thoughts in a different way? Instead of looking at the potential “what if this happens” scenario, can I see it as, “I notice there is anxiety. My worries are ___ but the chances of this happening is ___. If it does happen, then I know how to manage this because I can do ____”.” If you can look with a curiosity lense, it can help us look at anxiety with less fear. These journaling can help us better understand our own anxiety and look for the pattern and challenge those thoughts. 

  1. Mindfulness exercises 

I won’t go into details with this because I have a blog specifically explaining what mindfulness is all about. HERE is the link if you would like to take a look. Mindfulness is a great way to reduce some of our anxieties. Anxieties tend to focus on the past and present where mindfulness helps us focus on the present. And therefore, mindfulness exercise can help us mitigate the anxious feelings. 

  1. Pay Attention to your physical health 

Sometimes anxiety can come from not being in balance with your body’s health. Our mind and body are connected very closely. So if you are not getting enough sleep, not eating properly, not connecting to those that nourish you, being in constant stress, not doing any self care strategies, not expericinging. The list goes on but one should be aware of their own physical health as well in order to help manage their anxiety. Our minds can do a lot to our body but without the proper baseline of body needs, our brain can only do so much. 

  1. Plan the time to feel the anxiety 

Ultimately, we can’t stop ourselves from feeling the anxiety. Sometimes, it is something that happens especially when we are in situations we have never been before but cannot foresee the future. When we get all these anxieties, we can write these down and set a timer for 10 minutes. When you have all those worries written down on a paper, rip up the paper you wrote your anxieties and tuck it away until you find the time 

  1. Self Compassion 

Although anxiety is part of human nature, when it does take over ourselves, it can feel exhausting and extremely painful. During those moments it is always important to stay compassionate to ourselves and be kind to who we are. It is okay to experience anxiety and some days are hard to not let it get to us. During those moments, remind yourself of how you would see a friend struggling with anxiety, what would you tell that person? Why not support yourself in the similar way of how you would support your friend. Find out the word that most comforts you and what you would say to your friend. Write those words down on a paper and keep it handy. Whenever anxiety feels overwhelming look for that paper that has the calming word and look it over and over again and give that gentle reminder of that you are human. 

When we have the tools laid out for us, it can help us manage these anxieties better and instead of looking at anxiety with fear and panic, we can look at it from an open minded/curious view. Time is also a big factor in healing. Remember that if you have experienced a traumatic event recently, likely those anxieties will manifest a lot stronger and it will take time with the healing journey. Practice and patience will slowly help individuals step forward to their healing journey. 

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