It’s so damn unpredictable. Just when you think you’re okay again and feeling so positive and confident, something unexpected happens and sends you into full on in-your-head, all rationality out the window, labored breathing freak out mode.
The discomfort is real. Once your mind starts going, it gains momentum and is so hard to stop. Without the right tools, it is all too easy to fall right into the trap and let your mind go in circles with all sorts of “what if” scenarios. But you don’t have to live like this.
Where Does Anxiety Come From?
Anxiety usually masquerades as fears about the future, fears about discomfort, or trauma from the past. With my personal experience, anxiety has always been about fears about the future. These things have not happened yet. There is no guarantee they will happen at all. But my brain obsesses over these mere possibilities anyway even when another part of my brain knows just how irrational it is.
At times like these, it’s important to face the fears head on. Coming face-to-face with the fear will help to see where it stems from and clear that blockage. In return, you will become more clear on what your desires truly are without that fear in your way so you can move forward. You will be free!
The Prerequisite to Tackling Anxiety
I have four powerful tools to share that are going to help you tackle your anxiety. The best part is you don’t need to purchase anything to put these tools into motion. You can start TODAY.
There is one very important prerequisite you must practice in order for these tools to be most effective. You first need to pay attention. You need to be aware of when you start to feel anxious. The symptoms of anxiety look different from person to person. You need to be present and know when you are getting anxious. And when you start to feel it, you need to note exactly what you are feeling so that you will be able to immediately recognize anxiety when it shows up in you uninvited. Make sense?
I encourage you to start tracking this so you can see your triggers and what anxiety feels like to you. When you notice you are starting to feel anxious, place an identity on it. Write down what physical sensations you are feeling, what your brain is telling you, and how long it lasts. Note what set it off. You need to be able to fully recognize the feeling of anxiety in order to use these tools when it comes up.
If you don’t feel like you can accomplish this part, then I advise you to start practicing mindfulness meditation regularly if you don’t already. This will help you to get centered and observe your anxiety when it enters your body and brain. You will be able to feel it settling in and immediately recognize that anxiety is rising. Once you have mastered this and are able to be mindful and see anxiety beginning, you are ready to try one of my four most useful tools for easing and ridding yourself of anxiety.
4 Tools to Stop Anxiety Now
- Journaling: You can’t go wrong with a journaling practice. Journaling for anxiety is a little different than other types of journaling. Once you feel the anxiety entering and recognize it, you need to immediately get a pen and paper. Next, journal EVERYTHING you are feeling in that moment. Even if you think it doesn’t make sense. Don’t think, just start writing. You will notice that you are processing through whatever fear is behind that anxiety without even trying. If you keep journaling and writing out how you are feeling and exploring that, you WILL discover some truths and awareness that was not there before. This one is the easiest because there is truly no thinking involved. Just follow your thoughts and write it all out.
- Grounding: Grounding is a technique that will help to bring you back to the present moment. There are many different versions of grounding that you can use. It will bring you back to earth and help to pull you out of your head where your thoughts are circling down a drain of worry. The idea behind it is that it will “GROUND” you to the present moment in time, get it? A simple grounding technique can be done using the 5 senses. You pick out something for each of the senses that is happening around you right now. You note it and focus on it to bring your mind back down to reality. It helps your mind to stop concerning itself with the future by focusing on the present. For example, if it is raining and you can hear the rain that would be what you note for hearing. For touch, you might note the knit blanket you are covering up with and how it feels. You will go through this process for each of the five senses. This can be a very powerful tool when you are out in public or somewhere where journaling is not an option.
- Addressing the Anxiety: This is a new tool that I just recently learned from a mentor of mine, so I cannot take credit for this brilliant idea! Address the anxiety. Say aloud or in your head, “Anxiety, I feel your presence. Why are you here right now? What message do you have for me?” My mentor explained to me that anxiety is usually coming from a positive intention. It is trying to protect you from something. This is a loving act, so if you can communicate with it and get to the bottom of why it is protecting you then you can then respond with, “Okay, I have received the message. I honor your intention. I know you are here to protect me from X, but I am okay. Your purpose has been served. You can go now.” I know it might sound silly to communicate with anxiety, but trust me. This one is so powerful! You will be amazed at what you are able to release and the new perspective you will gain from honoring your anxiety, and then letting it go.
- Breathwork: Breathing through anxiety or any emotion is great way to overcome adversity. Like grounding, there are many different breathing techniques that you can use to rise above anxiety. One simple breathwork exercise is to breathe in for a slow count of 4, hold it for another count of 4, and then release and breathe out slowly and evenly for more than 4 counts. I usually breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and breathe out for 6-8 counts. Make sure the breaths are slow. This works because when you breathe deeply and slowly like this, you are tricking your brain. You are telling your brain to relax and that all is well. Slow and deep breathing is the counter to what you usually feel when experiencing anxiety, which is shorter breaths that are not full. So by slowly and deeply breathing, you are sending more oxygen to your brain and telling it to be calm. It is literally not possible for your body to continue to exhibit the physical feelings of anxiety if you do this exercise with control.
You Can Beat Anxiety
In conclusion, you can choose to not let anxiety have power over you if you do the work. Like any great outcome, you need to do the work in order to make it happen. You will feel so much better for it. By using these tools to overcome your anxiety, your body and mind will be more clear. You will not get caught up in these feelings and you will be able to live your life with more peace and calm.
Sometimes anxiety is too great in order for these tools to work well. If you have been experiencing anxiety that you don’t feel like you can combat yourself, please reach out to someone for help. Therapists can help you and give you the safe environment you need to empower yourself. When anxiety comes from a past experience, this can be something that professional therapy can be very beneficial for.
Lastly, I ask that you please take care of yourself. You don’t have to feel the effects of anxiety. You are not your anxiety. It is not a part of you. Try to think of it as something separate from you and you will feel it lose its power instantly.
Have you struggled with anxiety? What’s one tool you’ve found to be helpful when overcoming anxiety? I would love to hear your experience.