The majority of clients who come to see me for therapy are experiencing some form of anxiety. Generalized anxiety, social anxiety, circumstantial anxiety, OCD, panic disorder or PTSD. Anxiety, panic and fear can grow like a monster! It can quickly move from a small, almost unnoticeable annoyance to a pretty large disruptive force in a matter of days. It seems to grow exponentially and there are few good tricks for taming the anxiety beast that I’ll share with you here:
1 Remember that anxiety grows when we feel trapped. So pay careful attention to your thoughts. Can you open up all the possibilities so you don’t lock yourself in to feeling trapped? Try to remember what part is your choice and what part you’re in control of. This can help us feel less victimized in the situation or circumstance that’s causing us to feel anxious.
2. When you start to feel anxious or panicked, stop and ask yourself, ‘what do I need?’ Sometimes a change of scene, getting a tall glass of water, taking a deep cleansing breath or moving to another room, can subtly shake up and stop the wave of anxiety from cresting.
3. Assess your self care. We always feel better when we have enough sleep, are eating clean, are well hydrated, moving our bodies and have outlets for stress. How are you doing in all those categories? Is there one small thing you could do today to make an improvement in one of the areas of sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise or outlets for stress/recreation/leisure?
4. Put your experience in the right size container! Most stress, discomfort, fear, anxiety is temporary, not permanent. This feeling is NOT your new normal. And it doesn’t have to become your new identity. Remember that no matter how intense it feels in the moment, typically – this too shall pass!
5. Consider your thoughts – are these thoughts necessary, helpful or true? Only allow yourself to focus on evidence, fact based thoughts. This is CBT – cognitive behavioral therapy. Our thoughts create a feeling and that feeling creates our behavior. So be sure that your thoughts are coming from a true / fact-based place and not a distorted or fear-based one.
6. Remember this rule of thumb – the anticipatory anxiety is always greater than the actual event. We can worry SO much about things before they happen and build them up to be mountains in our minds. When we are actually doing the thing we spent so much time worrying about, we find that it typically isn’t so bad after all.
7. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sometimes we need to accept that this temporary experience of discomfort is present and recognize it, validate it without judgement, allow it to be there and then let it go. It doesn’t work out so well when we avoid it or conversely, when we over-focus on it. If we can move into acceptance of suffering and discomfort, then we begin to learn how to just gently notice when these feelings arise and not intensely fight them, engage with them or let them impact us so greatly.
Hopefully these tips help you tame your anxiety beast! Be gentle with yourself and seek support as needed! Anxiety can grow quickly and it’s sometimes present because it’s calling out to us to pay attention. Take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other. You deserve to thrive!