10 great tips to beat anxiety
Anxiety can feel crippling, but the good news is there are many things you can do to help yourself on a daily basis. Anything which is done consistently can actually change your brain chemistry (neuroplasticity) which is something I promote constantly.
Here are a few strategies you can do to help yourself.
1. Get clarity
Before we can change anything we have to bring it into conscious awareness.
- What’s causing your anxiety?
- A person/situation/negative thoughts generally?
- What do you want to be able to do/feel?
The biggest negative factor with anxious people is that they ruminate; they constantly imagine the worst or pull apart something that’s happened and keep mulling it over and over then blame themselves, or someone else.
When something happens, try and say to yourself "stop", just to interrupt the old mental pattern. Ask yourself, "is there something I can do about this right now?" ie. telephone call, talk to someone, if not, (and because it's a 'what if' question), tell yourself out loud; "well if that were to happen I'd deal with it then", and then come back into the now; the present moment and fully inhabit it.
Tell yourself there is nothing you can do. Of course, five seconds later your ego-mind will kick in and tell you the "yes but what if...". However, just observe the thought and tell yourself again (out loud) "if that were to happen I'd deal with it then", "but right now I'm doing...." and be present in the now. Choose to focus on a new thought/action, even if you have to keep coming back to it 20 times in a minute. Doing something very physical really helps anxiety in those sort of moments.
Ask yourself, by keep thinking about the situation - will it make you feel better or worse? If it’s worse, replace the feeling first, so:
Breathe, in through the nose and out through the mouth slowly, make your exhalation longer than your inhalation. This calms down your sympathetic nervous system. Keep your tongue loose in your mouth.
4. Compartmentalise the past
People who can move on quickly from an upsetting event/situation take any learnings/insights from it and leave the ‘rubbish’ (self-deprecating stuff) in the past. Think; “I’ve learned something, great, now move on”.
5. Avoid the inner idiot
You know, the one that tells you it’s all your fault, this always happens to you, because you are not good enough/worthy/valuable. Then you start to believe it and re-enforce it.
Instead, choose an alternative thought that you would like to believe about yourself. Note, I said that you’d like to believe, you may not yet believe it yet, but you have to start somewhere to condition the new thought into your mind. You might choose, “I’m not perfect, no one is, however, I always try my best”. Keep it simple to start with.
6. Challenge the negative thinking
Ask yourself 30 times a day “here is what I think is going on.........., how do I know?”. Get used to challenging your negative talk, where is the hard evidence that nobody likes you? Even if the whole world didn’t like you, so...?
People work harder not to lose something than to gain something. Basically, that means staying stuck - well, is that empowering in your life? Probably not, so move on, even just one little change, e.g. telling yourself I don't have to have everyone's approval, I just need to start approving of myself. You have to put the work in, it takes commitment, consistency and faith.
7. Come back to the now
When we feel uncertain, ie. that meeting, the holiday, the virus, the in-laws, etc, we jump out of the now and into the future. Anxiety is a future-based emotion; come back to the now. Keep doing it until it's conditioned into your nervous system and becomes a habit.
8. What you focus on grows
I say this to nearly every client I work with no matter what the issue. If you focus on what’s not right, or lack or what you haven’t got, guess what, yes, you will feel bad; so change the focus. It does take work, but you can do it!
9. Enjoy comfort zoneless
Remember, doing any of the above strategies will move you out of your comfort zone, it takes work and different mental energy, the brain is lazy and will always look for shortcuts, so you have to really be committed to this. Personal growth comes at the edge of your comfort zone, so any discomfort, great, it means you are developing and growing, wonderful, thank yourself for your work, no one else can do it for you!
You always have choices. Do you really want to keep repeating patterns of worry about being negatively judged or something dreadful that could happen? It's your perception of any event, situation or thought, that is crucial because you will then give a meaning to it, negative or positive or neutral. So choose carefully, it will inform how you feel and how you respond.
Most people who tend to be anxious worry about what people think of them, the need for approval is so strong, when in fact, the only approval they really should want, is their own approval!
It is an impossibility to be liked/loved/approved of by the whole world, no matter how much you try, so forget it, it’s unrealistic and if you pursue it you are bound to be disappointed and add to your lack of self-worth.
You are fantastic and have no idea of how much you are truly worth. Anxiety and stress rob us of our power, but if you start to use your mind for you, not against you, using your over-active imagination to imagine what you want then you start to change the brain, and re-wire it more positively! People feel so liberated when they follow a system to do this.
If you had an important exam to pass, would you put the work in? Of course! Well, this is your life - if you want to change it, then step up to the plate, you can do it, you absolutely can.