Anxiety is a natural response to stress, but when it becomes overwhelming, it can have a significant impact on our mental and physical health. With the world constantly changing and throwing new challenges our way, it's understandable that we feel anxious from time to time. In this blog post, we'll explore some practical strategies for managing anxiety during these challenging times.
Understand your anxiety
The first step in managing anxiety is to understand it. Anxiety can be triggered by a wide range of situations, from work-related stress to personal relationships or health concerns. It's important to identify what triggers your anxiety and the physical sensations you experience when you feel anxious, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, muscle tension, or sweating. By identifying these patterns, you can begin to develop strategies for managing your anxiety more effectively.
Challenge negative thoughts
When we're anxious, we often have negative thoughts that spiral out of control. For example, you might be worried about a work project and start thinking, "I'm going to fail and lose my job." These thoughts can be self-defeating and unhelpful. To manage anxiety, you could challenge these negative thoughts and replace them with more balanced, realistic ones. Ask yourself, "What evidence do I have that this is true?" or "Is there another way to look at this situation?" You could also try writing down your negative thoughts and then identifying the evidence for and against them.
Another strategy is to create some distance from the thought by noticing it, rather than identifying with it; for example, rather than thinking "I'm going to fail and lose my job", you could think "I notice I'm having the thought that I'm going to fail and lose my job". Our minds can sometimes create negative or distorted thoughts that don't align with reality; creating distance from the thought helps you to get some perspective so that you can discern whether or not the thought is realistic or helpful.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, without judgement or distraction. When we're anxious, we're often worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. Mindfulness can help us to stay focused on the present moment, which can reduce our anxiety. Try practising mindfulness for a few minutes each day, either through meditation, yoga, or simply paying attention to your breath. Mindfulness can also involve engaging in simple, everyday activities, such as eating or walking, with a greater sense of awareness and presence.
Practise deep breathing
When we're anxious, our breathing can become shallow and rapid, which can make our anxiety feel even worse. One effective strategy for managing anxiety is to practise deep breathing. Find a quiet space and take a few slow, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This can help to calm your mind and slow your heart rate. You could try counting to four as you inhale and then to six as you exhale, allowing your stomach to expand and contract as you breathe.
When we're feeling anxious, we may be tempted to isolate ourselves from others. However, social support is an effective way of managing anxiety. Reach out to friends, family members, or a therapist. Talking to others about your anxiety can help you to feel less alone and more supported.
Take care of yourself
Taking care of yourself is important in managing anxiety. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. These habits can help to reduce stress and promote a sense of wellbeing. You could also try incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.
Counselling can help
If your anxiety is significantly impacting your daily life and you are struggling to use the above strategies, you may benefit from therapy. Your counsellor will help you to uncover the roots of your anxiety and help you to find ways of calming yourself or of using your anxiety constructively to problem-solve. If you would like to find out more about how counselling could help you, please get in touch. We are here to help.
Managing anxiety during challenging times can be difficult, but there are strategies which can help. By practising deep breathing, mindfulness, challenging negative thoughts, staying connected, taking care of yourself, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can reduce your anxiety and improve your quality of life. Remember, it's okay to ask for help when you need it, and with the right support, you can overcome your anxiety and thrive during challenging times.