Anxiety is becoming more and more common, perhaps this is due to peoples lifestyles that are not allowing the self-care that fosters vitality and wellbeing. Although counselling and therapeutic support are very helpful for people who are struggling with anxiety here are some tips to support in managing and reducing anxiety outside of the therapy room.
1. Connect to Your Body
The busyness and mental energy of our everyday can trigger anxious feelings or even put us into a momentum where we are totally taken over by the anxiety and disconnected from our bodies. A great tool to connect back to the body is through the breath. I often refer clients to Universal Medicines’ Gentle Breath Meditation. Once embodied, this simple tool can be done in a variety of environments making it a great tool for everyone. You can find more types of supportive meditations here
2. Name That Thing
Often anxiety has us feeling trapped and reacting to thoughts that are far away from our present moment. Something that can support us when we are highly anxious or possibly even entering a panic attack is to connect to our surroundings. This supports us to come back to the present moment, lessening the persistence and unravelling momentum of the anxious thoughts. Name That Thing, is an exercise where you name 3 things in the room or space you are in and then give a simple description, an example of this could be, I see a door, a clock and a painting, the door is white with a silver handle etc. This exercise forces the mind to focus on the present task, slowing up the momentum and stopping the anxious thoughts. It can be a very simple and supportive tool when in a highly anxious or provocative moment.
3. Self-Care - Eat, Sleep, Walk
Self-Care is crucial in developing a foundation that supports us in our everyday life. It allows us to make choices that foster wellness and vitality, feeling supported and reducing symptoms like anxiety emerging.
Eat: For people who suffer from anxiety it’s important to eat nutritious meals. It's also very supportive to remove if not reduce caffeine and sugar as these stimulate and/or attack the body taking it out of homeostasis, speeding the body up and exacerbating anxiety.
Sleep: Sleep hygiene is very important when managing anxiety. I often suggest allowing a rhythm in your evening that gives your body space to wind down from the day. This can involve setting a supportive bed time and ensuring there is little stimulation 1 to even 2 hours before you get into bed; doing this can allow the body to rest deeply, rejuvenating during sleep. Committing to turning off all screens – mobiles, laptops and televisions and not engaging in any heated or overly exciting conversations is also a supportive way to wind down.
Walk: Exercise is also important for the body but walking is particularly supportive for combatting anxiety. I often suggest clients find a time in their day for a 10-30 minute walk. Not only does walking have all the health and physiological benefits but it also allows another opportunity for the us to connect and check in with our bodies, having space to integrate our feelings and reflect on what we need in order to support ourselves more deeply.
4. Bring Understanding by Questioning the Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety is a bully – so when those unsupportive thoughts are coming through you, just stop for a moment and question them. In situations where clients have developed awareness and understanding around what triggers their anxiety in the therapy room, now is a great time to translate these awarenesses into the real time. Lightly engage in the anxious thoughts and narrative as an authority, gently reminding yourself that something in you has been triggered, consciously support yourself to understand what and why and that the anxious reaction is possibly from the past and may simply be outdated. Being gentle and loving with ourselves throughout this perhaps sensitive and delicate process is also very important.
The way we move is in itself a choice of what thoughts and energies we align to. How we walk, talk, eat, sleep…how we pick something up, open the fridge door and get into a vehicle are all moments for us to either align to energies and thoughts that support and confirm who we truly are or to what we are simply not. Although connecting and observing our movements may at times feel challenging when in the thick of feeling anxious, if we are able to strip things back to the simplicity of how we are moving we can quickly support ourselves to align differently and feel connected and empowered.