Anxiety will affect us all at some point in our lives. And we will all know someone who is or has suffered from anxiety. To overcome anxiety can be a challenge and takes a great deal of trial and error to find what works well for you. Anxiety can be defined by the following symptoms:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
If you feel you maybe suffering from anxiety, please contact your GP for further advice.
For those who have seen a GP the following advice is some methods i have used to help myself and people i know overcome anxiety symptoms.
In situations where your anxiety has gotten too much its always a good idea to walk away to regroup. It could be due to an argument or confrontation you have experienced or perhaps you are in a crowded place and you feel that familiar sense of panic come over you.
Removing yourself is a great self preservation method and you shouldn’t feel guilt if you have to do this. Make your polite excuse to leave (if you are in company) such as ‘excuse me while i visit the toilet’ or ‘I am just going to get some air’. Then return when you are feeling more grounded and calm.
In these situations you do not need to explain yourself, just be polite, say the minimum and leave. No one needs to know what your are doing or why.
Deep breathing can really help to bring anxiety levels down. Before you start give your feelings a rating from 1-10. 1 being no anxiety at all and 10 being the worst you have ever felt. Then start to increase your intake and exhales of breathe in length. You can close your eyes if it helps. Try to extend your inhales to the count of 4 and exhales to the count of 8. Try this for 2 minutes, focusing on the tip of your nose as the air comes in and leaves. Reassess your anxiety levels again, if they have reduced great, if not repeat this until they have. This can be effective either with or without your eyes closed and can be done in a public situation with minimum attention from others.
Challenge The Thoughts – Whats The Worst That Could Happen?
Sometimes we put things off due to the anxious feelings it creates, such as making a phone call or driving somewhere we haven’t been before. In these cases its worth challenging our thoughts to why the action is causing anxiety. Using the question, ‘what is the worst that can happen’ can focus us on what we fear ‘may’ happen. Looking at the worst case we can get a sense of perspective. For example; Wearing a bikini to the swimming pool. Worst case scenario would be that people laugh and point.
Then ask yourself has that ever happened before to you or anyone else? If it did happen what would be the worst case scenario to that? Likely you would feel embarrassed, and leave. Whilst feeling embarrassed would be uncomfortable, its not life threatening.
What’s You Success Rate To Date?
In cases of panic or anxiety attacks or doing something that potentially could cause one. Think about the success rate of getting through them? They were horrendous and uncomfortable, yes. You thought you may die, yes. But you are still here. Reflecting on your success rate is a great way to re-frame fear of doing something due to feeling anxious or having a panic attack.
Stay In The Present
Anxiety is a future fears based mindset. As we can’t predict the future with any degree of certainty, we shouldn’t spend any time allowing our self to procrastinate on the possibility of what potentially ‘could’ happen. We instead need to bring our thoughts back to the present as this is the only moment we can do anything. Ask yourself questions such as, ‘am i in danger now’? ‘Can i do anything about my fear right now’?
If the answer is no to the first question, then there is no reason not to continue with the course of action that is making you anxious. If your answer is no to the second question your fear is something that can only be dealt with in the moment you do it. So there is no reason to ruminate any further. Deal with the problem in front of you and disregard anything that is in the future.
Think Of Your Safe Place
Going to a safe place in your mind can help. It could be thinking about a place you have been where u feel safe and secure, such as in your bed or relaxing on a warm sandy beach. Imagine yourself in that place, feel the warmth of the sun or imagine the softness of the bed linen against your skin. Remember the feelings of safety and calmness you felt and bring those into your mind. Using this technique with deep breathing helps a lot.
Talk About It
A problem shared is a problem halved. If you are feeling anxious, chat it over with someone you trust. A person with a balanced point of view that will be able to bring some grounded perspective to how you are feeling. Talk therapies such as counselling or CBT are both great ways of chatting through and finding previously unsought coping mechanisms.
Exercise is a great way of keeping anxiety at bay. Endorphins (also known as ‘happy hormones’) are produced during exercise, regularly participating in exercise can see a dramatic reduction in the amount of anxiety a person feels. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes a day. This is a form of movement that gets your heart rate beating faster and with you being slightly out of breath.
Caffeine is well known for causing the worsening of anxiety when consumed. Currently the ‘safe’ amount of caffeine in a diet is under 400 mgs a day. The over consumption of caffeine in things like tea, coffee and fizzy drinks leads to your fight or flight system being triggered, which is exactly what happens with anxiety. Imagine a system already flooded with stress hormones and to be stimulated further with caffeine. If you can, try to keep the dose under 400 mgs or try caffeine free alternatives.
What Other Sufferers Suggest To Overcome Anxiety?
Rosie Dutton From Mum in the Moment suggested:
I use positive affirmations such as ‘I am calm’ and ‘I’ve survived this before and I’ll survive now’. Repeating them over and over help me to change and distract any negative thoughts. https://muminthemoment.com/
Rebecca Cousins From The Kids Coach specialises in NLP and suggests:
NLP (Timeline therapy) can massively help. I work with many children who suffer with anxiety and it has fast results. It’s great fun and kids love that they don’t have to open up and discuss things as it is all solution based. https://www.facebook.com/thecoachforkids/
Louise Pink From Pink Pear Bear has a more medical response:
I take Beta Blockers to keep mine under control. https://pinkpearbear.com/…/beta-blockers-for-migraines…/
Rebecca Sieber has a more musical solution:
I pick a song and hum or sing it all the way through. Preferably out loud, but in my head works too, if I’m in a public place. I can’t concentrate on the song as well as whatever thoughts were making me anxious, so I always feel calmer by the time I get to the end of the song. www.beccablogsitout.com
Lucy Dorrington of Navigating Baby has a productive way of coping:
Sorting really helps me, like reorganising a drawer, or even pairing socks! Cleaning is good too. www.theparentgameblog.co.uk
And Probably my most favourite comes from the Blogger – The Busy Papa:
In software development, there is this thing called rubber duck debugging. The idea that if the problem you’re coding is too big, you talk it through to a rubber duck (or any inanimate object) and explain what you’ve done and what you can see happening. The idea being that you’ll probably find your solution along the way and at the very least you’ll have an understanding of it.
I sometimes use this for my anxiety too! I talk through the situation and why I’m feeling that way to an inanimate object. Sometimes it gives me a clearer picture and helps me compartmentalise the cause. https://thebusypapa.com
There is no instant or even fast fix to overcome anxiety. It is something you actively have to be mindful of everyday and do things with purpose to lessen to effects anxiety has on us. It’s also worth being realistic that anxiety is probably never gonna to leave us. We will always find certain things trigger than response.
However, using these techniques will ensure that the level you feel will be a lot less with continued use. Eventually what triggers you will be large events rather than everyday minimal ones. Then these techniques will be invaluable to make sure you can cope effectively when things are tough and help you overcome anxiety.
Do you have any suggestions further how to overcome anxiety? Leave a comment below to tell us how.