Learn how to free yourself from anxieties with these 8 easy steps
Stress, overwhelm, anxiety. They're all words we hear so often. All are feelings that each of us will likely experience at some point in our lives. You can learn how to free yourself from anxieties with these 8 easy steps.
Step 1 - Who or what is your trigger?
Before you can overcome anything, you have to know what the trigger is that brings it on. You know what kind of comedy will make you laugh, what films will make you cry, and identifying what can trigger your anxiety is just like this, even if it doesn't feel that way now.
If the cause of your anxiety isn't clear, spend some time thinking about the last time you felt anxious. Where were you? Who were you with? What happened leading up to that moment? Is there anything you can put your finger on that lead to the feeling developing?
Moving forward, try to run this process each time you feel your anxiety level increasing. It's the first step in being able to manage and overcome it.
Step 2 - Change the script
Once you've identified what triggers your anxiety, you can work on changing the script in your mind. Our brains and our thoughts are such powerful entities, with work and guidance you can learn to control them more consciously.
I used to be a very anxious flyer for example. I tried hypnosis, meditation and everything in between, but nothing worked. One of the most powerful tools I developed was the story I told myself when at the airport. Rather than focussing on my location, I thought about all the things I wanted to do at my destination. I focussed on the books I would read whilst waiting to board the plane, the playlist I'd listen to in between films, and the photographs I would capture to remember this journey.
Walking to board the plane, I'd tell myself the story that I was going to the supermarket. I was in the check-out queue, but I'd soon be through and on my way to somewhere lovely.
This was merely the process. It may sound silly, but these stories gathered weight the more I repeated them and I am proud to say that I completed a solo 12 hour flight without a mass panic attack! This from the girl whose Dad physically restrained her from 'disembarking' the first plane she travelled on as it sped along the runway to take off!
Step 3 - Say how you feel
Easier said than done, but letting others know how you are feeling, especially when you are still working to overcome your anxiety, is a huge step forward. I had a friend who had a fear of travelling on the underground. It was a combination of claustrophobia and other stories they had come to believe about being underground.
Gradually, with me by their side, we made it for one stop to three, to several, to a whole tube line without incident. By having someone with you, to talk your feelings through with, to tell you a different story, you not only have support but another tool to add to your coping strategy.
Step 4 - What's your body saying?
Body language can also play a huge part in controlling our anxiety. Practice this exercise briefly. If you're reading this and smiling, turn the corners of your lips down into a sad face. How does it make you feel? For most of us the answer would be sad, or lower than we had previously.
With anxiety our instinct is to withdraw and curl into a ball (ideally). Instead of this, try extending your back, straightening as much as possible whether standing or sitting. Smile. If you are moving, do so with purpose and think of someone who always does so with confidence. It's another interruption to those thought patterns that are urging you to do the opposite.
Step 5 - Face your fear (when you are ready)
Much like my fear of flying and my friends fear of the tube, we can only truly overcome them and the anxiety they bring, when we face them. This will take time, so don't put extra pressure on yourself to run out and try tomorrow. Be gentle with yourself and practical. You know what is right for you.
Try and do something towards facing your fear every day. Gradually build up to confronting it, and reverse and repeat as much as is necessary.
Step 6 - Consult an expert
For all conditions, I believe the relevant experts should be consulted, especially with anxiety. Your first port of call should be your GP. Don't be afraid of this, anxiety is nothing to feel embarrassed about and your GP is there to help you care for your health - mental and physical. They may even be able to advise you on local support groups with other people experiencing anxiety so that you can help each other.
Step 7 - Do more of what you love
Sound daft and out of place? I get it, but think about how amazing you feel when you are doing something you love. How your body responds to it. Where your thoughts go. If we have more of what we love in our lives, and if we plug into the feelings, it can be another tool in our box to put anxiety back in its own one.
Step 8 - Remember to breathe
My watch reminds me of this all the time. I used to dismiss it but taking the time to consciously focus on your breath has an amazing calming and grounding effect. Rather than trying to remember this when anxiety peaks, create a habit of taking time out each day to focus on your breathing, This can simply be taking three breaths in and out each morning before you get dressed. Something that you can fit in to even the busiest of days but feel the benefit of immediately.
Do any of these steps appeal to you more? Have you already decided which you will practice first? I'd love to hear how they help you so be sure to let me know in the comments or by sending me an email here.
If you liked these tips you can have more like these delivered to your inbox every fortnight by letting me know here.