8 Easy steps to calm yourself down
I was contacted by a person suffering from extreme anxiety. In such a situation I would advise a person to seek help, this person has apparently done that with no success and is likely to lose their job if nothing changes so I offered to blog about it in the hope that it might offer some relief. What I share with you in these blogs is there to support you although a blog does have its limits so remember at all times you are responsible for yourselves and if you find no relief or are having serious symptoms please arrange to see someone if not me then another professional.
Anxiety is a common experience in todays society with 8.2 million cases being reported in the UK in 2013 and 40 million adults in the US suffering from it.
At its core anxiety is fear, it is normally a fear that something could happen. I want you to really think about this. It is not about what is happening but about a future event that might or might not happen. When you feel anxious your awareness goes into your mind and your thoughts whizz around and around so fast that you cant make head nor tail of them. It is this over thinking that causes stress and anxiety. The only thing that causes us anxiety are our thoughts about something.
How we work as humans is that we have a thought about something, this creates a feeling (emotion) in us which should prompt us to act. What happens when we are afraid is that the thoughts and emotions build up but we don't take action upon them or if you do the action can make things worse because it comes from a place of fear. It is like turning the heat up on a pressure cooker and closing the valve. Eventually something is going to go very wrong.
There are many different things that you can do to try to help elevate the feelings of anxiety, (let off steam), I am going to give you a number of them and it will be up to you to try different ones out until you find what works for you.
Find out what is causing your anxiety - anxiety does not come from nothing. There will be something you are worrying about. Something you think might happen, or something could have happened to trigger a past memory and you are worrying that the same thing will happen again. If you have had a trauma in your past, I strongly suggest you speak to a professional as exploring it without support might have dire consequences. However if this is not the case then find some quiet time when you wont be disturbed and get a pen and paper and brainstorm what you are afraid of. It is important that you keep going until you feel a release. Keep asking yourself what do I think will happen in this situation and write down the first thing that pops into your mind, don't over think it just allow yourself to follow the thread of ideas. If your mind wanders use the question “What am I afraid will happen?” to bring you back. You will know you have reached the release point as you might experience a release of emotion, tears, tingling, understanding or something along these lines. As I said keep doing this over and over again until you get to the release. Once you have reached this release give yourself time to breath through the emotions you are experiencing and then in a couple of hours revisit the situation in your mind and ask yourself - “when I believe this threat how do I behave?” and write down your answer. Now ask yourself ”if I wasn't afraid of this how would I behave?” And write that down too. In my experience we create what we fear and the behaviour you would have taken in response to your fear and anxiety would normally create the situation you feared. This is where conscious choice comes in. From now on you have a choice to follow your old pattern and create from fear and anxiety or take a new route and create from conscious choice, by choosing to take action on what you want rather than what you don't want. I will go over this again in taking action.
Exercise - Taking exercise releases endorphins and it also takes you out of your mind and thoughts. I find if I am over thinking something and I make an effort to take regular exercise I always feel much better. The type of exercise is up to you but I would suggest doing something you enjoy.
Healthy eating - I know this can be a pain and everyone is going on about it. But what you eat becomes part of who you are so you cant ignore it. There are certain foods and drinks that exacerbate the feelings of anxiety. Some of these are caffeine, nicotine, drugs, alcohol, sugar and some additives such as MSG. I have just done a Whole30 detox diet for 30 days and I don't ever want to go back to how I felt before, yet I thought I was doing ok before I started it. Be aware if you do cut one of these substances out as you might feel worse before you feel better so read up on it and make sure you are prepared for it.
Meditation / Mindfulness - As I have mentioned anxiety is caused by over thinking both of these techniques will help you to step out of your thoughts so that you can get some relief. I went for a run this morning and as the universe is so incredibly helpful I was myself feeling a bit anxious. It was as if I needed to feel that way just so I could have the insight I did! Anyway I digress, the insight I had is that whenever you feel overwhelmed by your thoughts/anxiety just focus on your breathing. If you focus on your breathing you cant focus on your thoughts and after a while of relieving your mind you will start to feel much better. You might even find it has passed altogether. This in itself is a form of mediation or mindfulness.
Taking conscious action - As anxiety is a response to something we fear is going to happen we will tend to alter our behaviour. Taking conscious action will help you to change your reality. In fact taking action is the only thing that can change reality as we live in a physical world. It does not matter how many times you wish things were different or how many times you think them different nothing will change until you take action. As I explained above focus not on taking action from fear and anxiety but from a place of what would you be doing to create your ideal outcome. Ask yourself “what needs to happen for you to have the outcome you want?” and take action on what comes up for you.
Get a good nights sleep - I know if you are anything like me everything just seems better after a good nights sleep. Make sure you go to bed early and do something relaxing before. Allow yourself time o unwind and relax; take a hot bath, read a good book (not a scary one) or listen to some relaxing music. Lack of sleep is the one thing that will throw me off my stride.
Write your thoughts down - I know I said you need to sleep well but if your thoughts are whizzing this might be impossible. have a handy little solution that I am sure you will have heard of before. Write your thoughts down. I know this sounds so simple that it seems untrue but it works. I have done it with hundreds of clients and it is instant relief. Write down what you are thinking about in bullet form and next to each bullet write down the action you choose to take in relation to each thought. After you have done this write down a time line for when you will have done it. If you feel you do not have enough time, prioritise. Choose the things you have to do and do them first slowly moving the less important things to the end of your list. I have found that while I think I have so many things that need to be done now! Actually that is never the case because when an emergency happens suddenly I can make space. So be brutal with yourself and give yourself time to breath.
Journaling/talking to someone - Sharing is under appreciated. There is nothing like sharing what you are going through even if you are simply sharing it with your journal. It is like the valve on your pressure cooker it lets off steam and it might be enough for you to move forward. Just make sure that who you choose to share with is someone who will support you and not add to your anxiety.
I am sure there are many more things you could do and if you can think of any I have missed I would love to hear from you. You can always contact me on FB https://www.facebook.com/BrittTanya or send me a message on Twitter -
Wishing you every happiness and a relaxing and peaceful month all my love Britt