Anxiety is the dreaded feeling we get when we’re scared about what’s going to happen in the future. A lot of the time it’s usually about something we cannot control and yet we’re assaulting our minds in an effort to find a solution that just won’t come. Meanwhile, our mood plummets and our stress increases, further fueling the anxiety attack and annihilating our productivity.
Stop! Breathe. Agonizing, postulating, and overthinking aren’t going to get you anywhere. If you actually had an answer or a solution to whatever scenario is attacking you, you would have come up with it by now. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution to your problem. It just means you haven’t found it yet. One thing we have to teach ourselves to understand is that anxiety is just a feeling created by our thoughts. Now, that probably doesn’t change the reality of the situation we’re upset about, but know that it’s incredibly difficult to address what’s bothering you in a frazzled state of mind. So, I wanted to give you all a few techniques I use in order to handle my anxiety. Obviously, this doesn’t replace speaking to a therapist and taking the medication you need to take if you need to, but when things get a little overwhelming, I hope these techniques can help you get through whatever you’re going through.
TECHNIQUE #1: REMOVE YOURSELF
The first technique for anxiety reduction is to take yourself physically out of whatever situations you think you “have to” endure. Sometimes when our anxiety starts up, we feel like we cannot leave the situation we’re in until we’ve thought our way out of our anxious feelings. I’m here to tell you that more likely than not you cannot do that in any meaningful way until you’ve calmed down.
Anxiety is a stress response for something that’s happening in your life that your brain can’t immediately or instantly solve to calm itself down. Essentially your brain goes into danger mode and creates a physical response that we all know as “stress.” Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to still your mind enough to calm yourself down while staying physically still as well, so the best thing to do is often to just remove yourself from the situation that is bothering you. That means walk, skip, run, whatever, AWAY. Obviously, you can’t dip out forever, but in the moment, what’s stopping you from getting your stress under control by changing your scenery?
The issue is that your mind if focusing on whatever triggered the anxiety response. Get away from whatever it is and take some time to calm down. Changing scenery makes this tremendously easier because it allows you to get distracted enough for your brain to realize, “Hey, I’m not in any real danger” and remove some of the urgency from the situation. Once your stress is under control, then you can assess the cause of your anxiety and make a meaningful plan of action to eliminate it all together.
TECHNIQUE #2: REMOVE CLUTTER
Sometimes you cannot physically take yourself out of the situation that is causing you stress and anxiety. At that point, you’ve got to make due with where you are and reduce your stress and anxiety by making light of the situation as much as possible. Save for physical danger, all forms of stress and anxiety can and have to be relieved in some way in order to address them. Whatever your brain is telling you is one thing, but the physical stress response, that is something you can and have to get under control before you can take steps to truly relieve your stress and anxiety. Doing something mindless oftentimes results in enough distraction for your brain to kind of get the idea that you aren’t in any real danger and it’s physically anxious response is actually making things worse for you.
Removing clutter could be cleaning your desk, sweeping, doing dishes, folding clothes, anything. Just do something you can be proud of and adds value to your day.
TECHNIQUE #3: REMOVE THE URGENCY
This is probably the most difficult thing to do, but if you cannot remove clutter and remove yourself, this is probably the only route you’ll be able to take. This is where mindfulness really comes in handy. Stress and anxiety are feelings that originate from your thoughts. If you can some how manage to change your thought (even a little), it’ll go a long way in reducing that stress response your brain is stimulating in your body. A part of acknowledging that the powerful feeling of anxiety is just something your brain is creating to scare and protect you really can go a long way the more and more you tell yourself that. Eventually your brain will begin to get it and forge new neural pathways in response to these stressors.
This isn’t easy though. It takes a lot of intense repetition of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to change your thoughts on the urgency of your stress, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right? Sometimes you’ve just got to tell yourself that this feeling is temporary and even though it may come back again for the exact same reasons, it will pass if you let it. Acknowledge that what is bothering you has to be addressed, but also know that you won’t be able to make a clear-minded, level-headed decision or plan of action in a stressed-out state.