Three things to reduce anxiety
Anxiety is often a vicious circle of thoughts and physical reactions. You get one thought which is accompanied by an anxious stomach, and that reinforces some more thoughts and then the nervous system gets even more active so sweating increases &, etc.
Mild anxiety is something that everyone experiences every now and then, e.g. when taking a test, holding a presentation or just confronting some things that are a little bit unpleasant.
However, if your anxiety has become a daily feature it is time to activate some tools to reduce it.
Negative and unconstructive thoughts patterns are not of any use. Because let’s face it, it is not encouraging you or motivating you in any way. They only enhance negative emotions and reduce well-being.
What can you do?
- Make anxiety your friend instead of your enemy. Why the anxious stomach? What is it telling you? Maybe you could think of the stomach knot as your friend. A friend who is warning you about something unpleasant. I worked with a young boy that had anxiety towards school. He had a knot in his stomach when he had to go to school. Together we found out that it was due to his grades. He was afraid to face his grades. Instead of being in the vicious circle of anxiety and thoughts, he was going to think of the knot as his friend. A friend who was warning him that now was the time to face his fears and take action.
- Practice Mindfulness. It will help you to distance yourself from your thoughts and take control of them at the same time. If meditation is out of the question, you can go for a walk and leave your phone at home and just practice being mindful. Put your focus on the environment. What do you see? What do you hear? Feel the wind blow in your face and hair. Be curious & open about your surroundings without judgment. Judgment is thought, and we are practicing calming the mind. And remember to breathe, deep breathing.
- Practice letting your thoughts come and go without responding to them. It is exhausting to always respond to your thoughts, physically or mentally. You don’t have to react to every thought. It is your thought, you created that thought and you can also send that thought away. Just put that thought into a balloon and release it out into the sky if it is disturbing you.
Changes take time. Don’t give up. Just by being aware of some things that are triggering your anxiety is the first step towards healing.
If you find your anxiety too overwhelming to deal with on your own, and it is disabling you in any way, please seek help.
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