Monday, 17 July 2017

Understanding Anxiety

For some, anxiety is an uncontrollable and unwanted part of everyday life. It can effect social interactions, motivation and even self confidence. Anxiety is a very normal thing that should not always be shown in a negative light, it is a response to something that could be troubling or dangerous and should be considered a warning sign that works to improve alertness. 

Anxiety is powerful and will outrun rationality and logic if allowed to do so. When the brain is overexposed to threat and fear it will become sensitive to everyday issues and go into high alert when there is no need to be. Anxiety becomes intrusive and difficult to live with, it changes from the little voice in the head that shows up when needed into the monster that feeds off of positive energy and security. 

Fight or flight? Anxiety is there to keep us out of harms way. It is instinctive and automatic. It was never meant to get in our way, but rather, to get us out of the way of danger. There are ways to harness the power and stubbornness of anxiety to overcome anxiety and symptoms of it. The change of mindset is the best way to relinquish anxiety however it does take time, the mind needs time to unlearn its habits. 

The methods listed below can be incredibly effective however it is best to not try all of the methods at once. It can become overwhelming and clutter the mind. Choose one method at a time and after some time change to another method to see what works best for you. Go slow, there is no need for this to be a stressful process.

  • Be Patient:

Patience is a virtue. There is no quick fix for anxiety or other mental states, it all takes time. Any reservations that you may have will come and go, simply be patient and consider your options. There it no reason for this to be a stressful or rushed experience. Look at your anxiety and consider the reasons for its development, spend some time with your thoughts and feelings and understand the root of your anxiety. You are strong and more resilient than your anxiety.

  • Be Present:

Being somewhere and being present are two different things. No matter where you are, you are not fully present if your mind is elsewhere. Anchor yourself, open your senses and consider what is around you. Stay with what is actually happening rather than focusing on what might happen. This process may feel uncomfortable at first however repeated exposure to this method will improve your ability to pull back from the anxious thoughts that steal you away from where you are.

  • Observe:

Stand back and view your anxiety as an observer, this will allow for your thoughts to become more rational and logical. Observation of your thoughts and anxiety can definitely help to change your perspective, it can open up your mind to options that would have never been considered. (For more information about perspective please refer to the previous blog post about Changing Your Perspective.)

  • Trust:

Trust your anxiety. Know that it won't hurt you. There are a lot of reasons why anxiety feels so awful, one of these is feeling uncertain and uneasy, however trust in your anxiety and knowledge of it can help improve your response to it and then overcome the feelings of uneasiness. You might wonder if that bad feeling means that something bad is actually going to happen, however anxiety is there as a warning, not a prediction. That bad feeling or negative thought is only going to manifest if you allow it to, focus on your trust that this is simply a feeling and can be controlled. 

This is not just about trust in your anxiety, you need to trust yourself. Trust that you can cope with anything that is thrown at you, you can deal with it and you can be resourceful. This is all a learning process and it will take time, so trusting your own abilities will also need to be worked along side with being patient.

  • Declutter:

Spend some time decluttering your mind and your life. You will notice that you thoughts will become more calm and this will allow for space to be opened up for more of an understanding of your anxiety and the reasons behind it. (For more information about decluttering please refer to the previous post about Decluttering the Mind.)

  • Goals:

Setting small goals to complete throughout day can help with anxious thoughts because it will allow for the anxiety to be put aside for a small amount of time so that other tasks can be focused on. (For a more in depth look into Goals please refer to the previous post about Goal Setting.)

  • Distract Yourself:

Sometimes anxiety cannot be controlled and needs to be waited out. To avoid obsessing try to distract yourself from the situation. Set goals, listen to music, read a book, socialise, anything to take your mind away from the anxiety. This is not avoiding the subject, this is taking some time to reconsider the root of the anxiety and allow for it to ease before working on resolving it.

  • Exercise:

Exercising is a brilliant way to distract yourself from anxiety whilst maintaining a healthy body and mind. The release of endorphins helps to improve positivity and therefore can reduce anxiety with the use of a more positive mindset. When paired with eating well balanced meals, your mind and body will feel much more energised and this will reduce the feeling of fatigue that is often caused with stress and anxiety. Do not skip any meals and always make sure that healthy, energy boosting snacks are available for that extra push.

  • Give-up Control:

Anxiety can become an uncontrollable force that seems too large to combat, to put this into perspective, understand that you cannot have full control of the anxiety or the cause of it. Once control has been let go of, your stress and anxiety can be put into perspective and you can ask yourself "is it really as bad as i think?", when this question is asked it usually forces your mind to reconsider the severity of the situation and eventually the anxiety will also be reconsidered.

  • Talk About It:

There is no shame in opening up about your problems. Tell your friends and family that you are feeling overwhelmed, let them know how they can help you. If this is something that you are not comfortable with then seek professional and confidential help, counselling can be a very effective method for overcoming negative thoughts because it allows for you to open up about how you are feeling and then leads to exploring the possible reasons for these problems and how to resolve them. 

Anxiety is not something that can be resolved quickly. Any of these methods are going to take time to take effect however the conscious effort to improve anxious feelings could be all you need to slowly recover. As previously stated, these methods will be best used separately or in pairs as any more could become overwhelming which would be counterproductive as some anxiety can be caused by feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. 

The main thing to remember is that you are stronger than your anxiety and you have the capability to control how you feel. You do not need to feel defeated by your anxiety because you have the power to overcome these feelings. It all starts with you.

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