Anxiety can be really hard to beat. I know it myself. I can’t say that I am absolutely cured now but it used to be much worse.
I remember days when I was anxious to leave the apartment.
When I wanted to go shopping I felt restless. It looked like such a hard thing to do. I had to leave the apartment and face possible threats:
- talking to a neighbor in the hallway
- talking to people on the elevator (I used to speculate what are the times during the day with the least amount of people on the elevator)
- saying hi to the receptionist
- leaving the building and face the strangers on the streets (which I was particularly scared of after one day a girl stopped me on the street telling me she loves my jacket and asking me where did I get it from)
- entering the grocery store with the possibility of meeting many people at the entrance of the grocery store (I also used to thing when are the times of the day with the least people in the grocery store)
- facing the possibility of people asking me if I know where some stuff is while I am shopping
- not being able to avoid the conversation at the cashier (even if I was able to avoid all of the previous conversations) and needing to say “that’s all”, “by card” “debit” “no, I don’t want any cash back”
Uff. One visit to the grocery store and so many threats. So many reasons to be anxious. Apart from like two exceptions within a year I always waited for my husband to come back home and go shopping with me. Just that I don’t have to face the situations alone.
Now, I’m like: Was this really me? It feels like it wasn’t. I’m not scared to go grocery shopping at all. I even joke with people. I start conversations. Am I living a double life?
I don’t think so. It is just what our brain can do to us if we let it. If we don’t watch out fear of a few things we can easily become fearful of everything.
But, how can we avoid it?
How can we protect ourselves?
How can we beat the disturbing anxiety?
First and foremost, workout. Without exercise, there’s no good mood. Without a good mood, there is anxiety.
Oh Gosh, every time I write this I think to myself: I should exercise more often. The truth is I am not perfect, but I realize how important exercise is to physical and mental wellness.
Don’t overdo it, but the general rule is the more you exercise the better you feel.
I have already written about the benefits of meditation. Meditation rewires your brain in a magic way. But it’s not your go-to problem-solving method. It works long term. Don’t meditate when you feel anxious. Meditate when you feel OK to build that mental strength you can use when you need it.
Simple exercises with breath can instantly calm you and put you at ease.
3-9-5 exercise – inhale for 3 seconds, exhale for 9 seconds and hold your breath for 5 seconds. Do this 5-20 times and you will feel much better and calmer.
Another way to calm down is to just be present and watch your breath (this works especially if you are already used to meditate). Don’t think, do or focus on anything else just your breath. Feel the coolness of the air on the top of your nose as you inhale and feel the warmth of the air as you exhale. There’s nothing important in the world just you and your breath.
If the first three methods don’t work there’s time to do something more radical. Get out. Go to the mountains or somewhere where nobody is around and shout as loud as you can. It might seem trivial, but there’s unbelievable power in getting it all out.
5. Magnesium Supplement
If you are often anxious consult your physician on magnesium supplements. If you tend to be anxious you will benefit from magnesium supplements even if you are not particularly magnesium deficient.
6. Get Exposed
This a greatly effective but quite difficult method used very often in psychology. It’s called exposure therapy. Identify whatever you fear and force yourself to do it often enough so that you get used to it and you are not afraid of it anymore. You should even start to enjoy it. For example, if you are anxious when you are supposed to call someone, call 5 people a day every day until you have no problem calling someone and you actually call someone to hear the voice or because it is faster then write a text.
7. Make a Bad Decision
OK, so you feel anxious. Why? Because you are afraid that you will be seen? That you will fail? That it will not work out?
If so, what is the worst thing that can happen?
I bet it won’t be the end of the world.
Think about it this way. You want the worst thing to happen. You really don’t care about the outcome.
You are scared to have a presentation at work? OK, so what is the worst thing that can happen? People will laugh at you?
Get ready to be laughed at. Get ready to laugh with them. In the end, nobody will laugh at you, but if you get ready to go to have that presentation and have some laughs at the same time, you will not feel anxious at all.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Again, I already wrote about sleep being a very important part of being healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. If you don’t sleep enough you can’t function well. That’s a fact.
9. Help Others
The best life coaches in the world will always tell you that there’s not a better way to instantly feel better than helping another being. It doesn’t even have to be a human being. It can be, as well, a dog or a cat. Some lost soul. Give it your time, your energy, your money, your thought, your smile, your food. There is no better way to feel better and change the world to better at the same time. Within seconds.
10. Postpone Worrying
One of the very effective mental exercises is postponing worrying. If you start to feel overwhelmed and you start to worry take a deep breath and decide you will not continue worrying about a particular thing just now, but you will continue in ten minutes. Set a timer.
The point is that you will get detached from that unpleasant thought and feeling and when you come back in 10 minutes you might feel that it is not so bad or you might feel that you don’t want to worry about it anymore.
11. Understand Your Triggers
We are all anxious for different reasons. Know your reasons. Don’t stress out about anxiety. Sit down and think. Why do I feel this way? What is causing it? And what can I do about it? Three powerful question that will get you out of the downward spiral.
12. Know Your Strengths
OK, so there are things you are anxious about. You have your weaknesses. I have mine. And that is just fine. Nobody is perfect. But let me ask you what are your strengths? And how can you use them?
I am anxious about getting in contact with someone new. I don’t know what to say. What is the right thing to say? And I really suck at small talk. I usually don’t know what is going on in politics. I don’t check weather regularly so I don’t know if it’s going to rain today. Yet, I am a good listener. Once I get to know you I am willing to listen up and support. That’s making me a good coach. F*ck if I don’t know whether it will rain.
I learned to be quiet when I meet someone for the first time. I don’t push myself anymore. When I stopped pushing myself into a meaningless small talk I don’t feel anxious anymore. Win-win.
13. Hug and Get Hugged
I know very few better feelings than giving or getting a hug. A hug is definitely in my top 5. The hug can give you just the emotional strength you needed. It comforts you, calms you down, makes you like yourself more. Hug as often as you can. It is scientifically proven how important hugging is.
14. Avoid What Is Not Helping (Who Is Not Helping)
This is a big thing. It is hard to say goodbye to old-time friends or see some family members less often. But you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. If you spend time with anxious people you will be anxious no matter what you do. On the other hand, if you are spending time with confident and brave people you will naturally become more confident and brave even if you don’t even try.
Same applies to things and habits. If eating sugar makes you more restless and anxious why the heck do you still eat that dessert after lunch? Be mindful of the things/habits/people that are serving you and those that are not.
15. Be Curious
I have a great coach. When I say I am scared, she always asks me to reframe what I say. I am not scared. I am curious how will it be, how will it go. It is a powerful tool to get you going. Do not stay stuck. What are you curious about?
What makes you anxious?
Thanks for reading. I hope it helped. It is a blessing to have you around.