What is anxiety?
Anxiety can range from nervousness to a full blown panic attack. You know you are heading there when you feel:
- A sense of dread
- Constantly “on edge”
- It’s hard to concentrate
These feelings can stop you from going out, seeing friends or even being able to work. Which can lead to more stress, feelings of guilt and not being good enough (low self-esteem).
You may also experience physical symptoms like:
- A noticeable strong, fast or irregular heartbeat
- Muscle aches and tension
- Trembling or shaking
- Dry mouth
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
- Stomach ache
- Feeling sick
- Pins and needles
- Not being able to sleep well
Some people know what causes their anxiety, it may be a phobia (fear) or a particular situation, for others the feeling comes with no real explanation.
So what can you do?
There are three tips I share with my Clients for when anxiety strikes, and generally one will work better for them than the others. So do try all the techniques and see which works best for YOU.
Technique One – Grounding
In this technique we use a mixture of focus and distraction to lessen the anxiety you are feeling:
When you start to feel anxious or worried slowly say out loud:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can touch
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Repeat a few times until the anxious feeling gets smaller.
Technique Two – Nursery Rhymes
In this technique we use a mixture of focus, distraction, comfort and controlled breathing to lessen the anxiety you are feeling:
When you start to feel anxious or worried slowly sing in your head or out loud your favourite nursery rhyme.
Singing even in your head will help you control your breathing, the familiarity with your favourite nursery rhyme can bring comfort and a feeling of safety, and remembering the words and tune provides focus and distraction.
Again repeat a few times until the anxious feeling gets smaller.
Technique Three – Make Friends With Your Anxiety
In this technique we take a different approach to dealing with anxiety. When anxiety strikes we often instinctively fight it, and it’s a battle we can’t win. The more we fight the anxiety, the worse it gets.
The thing is your anxiety wants you to listen, it wants to keep you safe and the more you push it away the harder it tries to make you listen.
Making friends with your anxiety is not about giving in to it. It’s about accepting your anxiety for what it is (a way to keep you safe), and working with it rather than fighting that part of yourself.
So how do you change your relationship with your anxiety?
When you start to feel anxious or worried talk to your anxiety, reassure it things will be ok, you can say things like:
‘Thank you for letting me know you are worried, but I am only going to do X, it will be fine because…’
‘We went to the supermarket last week and it was fine, I am really looking forward to getting ice cream.’
‘I know you are concerned, but remember how much we love seeing X they are funny and kind.’
This technique can take a little longer to work, as it takes time to change a relationship, it can also be used with one of the other techniques. Once the anxiety calms down a little, begin the self-talk.
Do get in touch if you would like to learn more, ask a question or book a session where I can help personalise the technique to you.
You can also access my FREE anxiety self-help sheet in the Need Help Now section of my counselling page: www.infinitedimensions.co.uk/counselling