Living in today’s ever growing fast-paced world can be overwhelming, with numerous demands on our time and attention. We live in an era of hyper-stimulation, as well as hyper-stress, and as a result, many individuals find themselves grappling in the chokehold of anxiety. Fear is an evolutionarily programmed response that humans developed to fight off threats such as sabre-tooth tigers and wild predators. It allows us to know when to go into action and when to flee a threat. The problem is that nowadays, our definition of ‘threat’ has intrinsically changed. Presenting in front of your colleagues or going on a first date is hardly the same as a wild animal, and yet our minds and bodies process the fear in the same way.
When this reaches a point of impacting one’s wellbeing and day to day experience, it’s important to do something about it. In this blog post, we will share some practical strategies and techniques proven to be highly effective in managing anxiety. Remember, these suggestions are not a replacement for professional help, but they can provide a helpful starting point on your journey towards a calmer and more balanced life.
1. Understand Your Anxiety
The first step in managing anxiety is to understand it. Anxiety can manifest in various forms, and have many reasons at its root. Educate yourself about the different types of anxiety and the specific symptoms associated with them. Knowledge empowers you to recognise and validate your feelings, and labelling your feelings has been proven to send calming signals to the brain. Ask yourself which emotions you are feeling outside fear; are you feeling disappointed? Jealous? Ashamed? Guilty? Sad? Fear often has a wonderful way of covering up a deeper emotion, and it can be really helpful to be honest with yourself about what that is.
2. Practise Relaxation Techniques & Learn to Control Your Breathing
As the body begins to panic, your heart rate increases, and your breathing becomes rapid in order to prepare you to fight off a predator. This is why deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques are simple yet powerful tools to calm the mind and body in that moment, as you take charge of your physiological reaction. When anxiety strikes, take slow, deep breaths, focusing on inhaling deeply through your nose and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Focusing on an anchor like your breath can also help to break your state, and lessen your attention to your anxious thoughts. It’s important to practise these techniques when you’re calm, as you’ll be able to strengthen your ability more impactfully for when you need to rely on them.
3. Challenge Anxious Thoughts
Often people don’t realise that they are not their thoughts; in fact, you can observe your thoughts as they arise. Anxiety often stems from repetitive, distorted or irrational thoughts. Recognise when your mind starts spiralling into negative thinking patterns, such as picturing the worst case scenario or making grand generalisations. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself objective questions. Is there evidence to support this thought? What is a more realistic perspective on the situation? Has there been a time I was faced with something I found anxiety-inducing but managed to get through? By reframing your thoughts, you can gain a more balanced and rational outlook, reducing anxiety’s grip on your mind.
4. Establish Your Own Coping Mechanisms
Developing healthy coping mechanisms is crucial for managing anxiety. Everyone will have a different activity that brings them joy and helps them to relax. This could include exercise, meditation, yoga, creative pursuits, listening to music or spending time with loved ones. Find what works best for you and make it a regular part of your routine. Sometimes, when you find yourself living in your head and consumed by your thoughts, it can be really useful to reconnect with your body, and remember you are more than just your thoughts. Additionally, it’s important to prioritise self-care by ensuring you get enough sleep, maintain a balanced diet, and limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as they can exacerbate anxiety symptoms.
5. Seek Support
Managing anxiety can feel overwhelming, and you don’t have to face it alone. StoriBoard is here to provide you with an understanding community of people who understand how it feels to be affected by anxiety. Sharing experiences with others who understand what it’s like can help you to feel less alone and provide helpful coping strategies for how best to manage your headspace and mental wellbeing. So, whether it’s performance anxiety, social anxiety or health anxiety, find your understanding StoriBoard community today.
Professional therapists can also provide specialised guidance, helping you uncover the underlying causes of your anxiety and providing tailored strategies for managing it. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and it can make a world of difference in your journey towards healing.
For more information, download the StoriBoard app today, and find your community.