Anxiety is horrible. It can have many symptoms – from feelings of being short of breath, a tightness in your chest, feeling ‘on edge’, heath pounding, palms sweating, nausea, lack of concentration and irritability. Whilst these feelings will affect us all now and again, if you’re experiencing them more than occasionally then it’s possible you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety or what doctors might term ‘generalised anxiety’.
Anxiety can affect all aspects of your everyday life. Worry about a particular situation can cause you to feel anxious about everything else. It can take over your life if you let it, but you can find control and learn to flourish in situations that challenge and stretch you.
Learning to deal effectively with anxiety is an essential life skill. Your relationships, self confidence, and ability to cope with stress will all be affected in positive ways. You’ll be able to stretch yourself, go after dreams and goals you thought were beyond you and give yourself the chance to be happier, calmer and more loving towards yourself and the world around you.
Your self-confidence will grow as you develop the habit of facing the fears inside of you. The root of self confidence is knowing that you can do this – that you have an inner strength that can overcome challenges, deal with your struggles and come out on top.
Strength doesn’t come from having a charmed life – it comes from struggle and challenges, and knowing that you can overcome.
If you begin to use these six strategies today, you’ll notice the difference immediately. These ideas are simple, but they have the power to revolutionize your life.
These techniques can help you cope with your anxious feelings:
1. Practice Deep Breathing
- One of the most effective ways to cope with anxiety is deep breathing. Deep breaths get much-needed oxygen to your brain and throughout your body, relaxing your muscles. The increased air to your body and mind helps you calm down in times when you would normally become stressed out.
- When you notice that you’re beginning to get nervous, pay attention to your breathing. For a few days, practice deep breathing in a relaxed, private, comfortable environment where you’re not rushed. Put your hand on your belly, and make your hand rise and fall with each breath. Be sure to take in a slow, full breath. Exhale slowly.
- If you practice this deep breathing exercise before the moment of truth, you’ll be equipped to control your breathing when a stressful situation occurs. When the pressure is on, and you notice your heartbeat beginning to rise, simply pay attention to your breathing and do what you’ve practised.
2. Face Your Fears
- If you’re one of life’s worriers (I’ll admit it’s my default position!) giving yourself opportunities to stretch your mental boundaries in ways that aren’t extremely stressful can be a great way to build your confidence. As your mind and body become used to taking on challenges in dealing with your nerves, give yourself greater challenges to increase your ability to handle them.
- If you’re in the habit of shying away from things that stress you out, purposefully put yourself into situations that you aren’t sure about. Don’t drop yourself in at the deep-end – practice baby steps that will stretch you and help to grow your comfort zone. This will help you build confidence. The more steps you take outside of your comfort zone, the better equipped you’ll be when the real challenges of life cause you to feel anxious.
3. Eat Well
- Food and anxiety are inextricably linked. There is compelling evidence of the biochemical impact of food and mood. Dietary changes can have a major positive impact on levels of anxiety. The changes don’t have to be big ones. Start small – Drink plenty of water. Eat a balanced breakfast. Eat small meals, and eat more often.
- Cut down on processed sugars and carbohydrates, caffeine and alcohol. Although these foods may initially feel comforting or have the ability to ‘take the edge off’ anxiety, in reality they increase anxiety and mood swings.
Your body is made to move. Exercise provides tremendous stress relief, an outlet for frustration and a boost to your overall self-confidence. It helps your body to release endorphins which help to combat anxiety and increase relaxation.
5. Get Some Professional Help
You don’t have to struggle on your own. There are many effective ways to deal with anxiety – from cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, medication, and relaxation technique.
Your GP is often the best initial point of contact.
6. Accept & Let Go
Although this may sound counter intuitive, fighting anxious feelings only fuels them and makes them stronger. Think of it a bit like trying to hold a inflatable ball underwater. The more energy you exert trying to keep it down, the more difficult it becomes to do so. Whilst anxiety feels horrible, it really is just that – a feeling. Feelings are transient, they come and go.
Accepting the feelings – however unpleasant and scary they might be, is the first step to calming your nervous system, reducing the stress chemicals binging around your system and winning the battle against anxiety. Think of it like martial arts – rather than fighting your opponents strength, use it against them. by disarming anxiety and riding out the feelings, you effectively disarm it.