Tips for Dealing with Anxiety and Calming the Anxious Mind
- Get Present! Anxious thoughts often are a result of concerns for the future. We are thinking about what might happen, what we should or shouldn’t have done. Becoming aware of the present moment can be a good antidote to these spinning thoughts and worries. To do this, bring your awareness to what is happening RIGHT NOW. What is your body feeling? What is going on in the room? What is the texture of something you are touching or is touching you? Notice what there is to notice. Chances are there is a lot going on around you that you are unaware of, particularly if you are deep in worried thinking.
- Breathe! Bring your awareness back to your inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale, inhale and exhale. Feel the air enter and leave, really paying attention to it.
- Distract Yourself. Sometimes anxiety floods us and we can’t keep our head above the water. This is a good time to use distractions. Go for a walk and pay attention to the things you see on the walk, surf the internet, play a game, garden, play with your pet, knit. Anything that will shift the switch in your brain from thinking and spinning, to action.
- Exercise. Getting moving is another way to flip the worry switch in your head off. And an added bonus is all the happy endorphins that flood your system afterward.
- Put the situation outside of yourself. What would it look like if you were watching it on a movie screen? Or what would you say if your child, little sister/brother, mom/dad, spouse came to you with these worries? Often when we can move the story and the worry outside of ourselves we gain an entirely different perspective. Most often we would not say the harsh things that we say to ourselves to someone we cared deeply about. Care deeply about yourself!
- Create affirmations that you can repeat to yourself to take the place of the anxious thoughts and worries. These might look like: I can do this! I am enough. I am lovable. May I be free from worry. May I be happy.
- Phone a friend! (or relative or random supportive person) You may have someone that always makes you laugh or someone that you know will listen and empathize with whatever you are thinking or even someone whose problems will distract you from your thoughts. These are good options here. You’ll probably want to avoid the friend that tends to bring you down further!
- Practice gratitude. There are things to be thankful for. Remember them. Honor them. It can be as simple as a shining sun or a wonderful pair of shoes or a great lunch.
- Celebrate the little things. Anxiety wants us to focus on the “what ifs” and the “should haves”. When our attention is directed to those places we miss the little things we do that are great, different, positive. Pay attention. Watch for them and throw them a giant party. Make them bigger than the negative.
These are just some of the ways that you can practice that help flip the anxiety switch to the off position.