I like to think of managing anxiety as a practice, rather than something I am looking to conquer and never have to deal with again. We are in the game of life and feelings of fear and uncertainty are healthy and normal. Not only are feelings of anxiety normal - they are actually useful. These emotions can point us towards places where we are not yet free, and carve out an opening to work through what is holding us back. In order to view feelings of anxiety as a tool rather than a hinderance it is first useful to consciously acknowledge when these feelings arise and how to work through them in a way that will benefit you and leave you better equipped for the next time a similar situations occurs.
The practices that are mentioned below are tools in which can assist you to take control of the inner workings of yourself rather than letting your emotions and thoughts take over you completely. The goal is to decrease the amount of time we spend lingering in negative emotions and to practice letting these feeling go as soon as possible.
1. Learning to surrender to the moment
Acknowledging the that situation that is unfolding in front of you is outside of you and not to attach your ego to the situation. For example, instead of telling yourself the narrative of “omg I can’t believe this is happening to me or how dare they do this to me” (this is the ego), try and take the perspective of “this is happening” nothing is happening to me- it’s just happening in this moment. Once you begin to seperate your ego from the situation at hand, you’ll be in a better position to surrender to the moment as opposed to feeding the narrative and allowing negative emotions take hold.
2. Become aware of the narrative you tell yourself.
Start to become aware of the conversation that begins in your mind the moment that you feel fear. When you first start noticing this conversation just become aware of it, don’t feed in to any which side of the story. Just relax behind it and allow yourself to simply observe the things you are saying to yourself. A lot of the time your mind is quick to exacerbate the reality of the situation at hand. For example, “I’m not sure if I will be able to meet this deadline” can turn into “they won’t think I am capable of doing the job if I don’t meet the deadline, everyone is going to think Im stupid, what if I get fired?”. This is a useful tip to practice as it can prevent small things snowballing into really big things.
3. Stop the momentum of negative thinking.
The more you allow the narrative in your mind to continue telling its own story the more you will feel the energy of this emotion gaining momentum. A way to think about emotions is like a boulder sitting on the top of a hill. If you don’t pay it much attention the boulder is not going to be able to move anywhere. However, if you dedicate all of your attention to it and start pushing energy towards it, the boulder will slowly start to gain momentum. Once it begins to gain enough momentum it is going to very quickly begin rolling down that hill at a rate that will be way to hard for you to be able to get in front of it and stop it. So become aware of the emotions before they gain to much energy. This can prevent having whole days or weeks being compromised by a single event.
4. Move your body.
Don’t let the energy of fear get stored inside your body. Pay attention to where you feel your emotions. Where does this energy lodge in your body? If something has made you very angry you will likely feel just below you chest, at the opening on your diaphragm. Or sometimes if you have a lot of repressed emotions about something and you wish you could speak or express yourself about the matter you may notice a tightness in your throat. If someone has broken your trust or broken your heart you may literally feel the emotion as a tightening in your chest area. Your body is always calling out to you and showing you what needs to be cleared.
Have you ever noticed how fidgety or agitated you feel when you have anxiety? You may notice that you start pacing up and down or feel the need to take action by immediately writing a text or email in order to address what has triggered you. If you are able to, go and do some vigorous exercise in order to push this energy through your body. Or try jumping up and down on the spot and do some star jumps. I know this is really weird and you’ll probably feel stupid doing it but that is kind of the point. Moving your body in this way will not only derail your circuit of negative thinking but will assists in getting any pent-up energy out. This will enable you to find a solution that is well thought through and not fuelled by fearful action-oriented thinking.
Take 4 deep breaths in, ensuring that the exhale of these breathes are always held out for longer than the inhale. Holding the exhale out for longer than the inhale triggers the parasympathetic nervous system in your body which prompts feelings related to “rest and digest” instead of increasing feelings of "fight or flight".
6. Take a mantra.
Take the time to set a mantra when you are in a happy and calm state. For example, you may take the mantra “something bigger than me is taking care of this, everything always works out for me”. Write whatever mantra resonates with you in your notes section of your phone and read it in moments that you feel anxious or on days that you are not feeling as grounded as you would like to be.
If all else fails, take a cold shower!
Lots of love, Marissa x