Calming Anxieties

What is Anxiety?

It keeps you up at night.
It's that fear or nervousness that you just can't shake.
It steals your focus in the most inopportune moments.
It gives you sweaty palms, shortness of breath, a racing heart, dry mouth, stomach churns...
At times, it can take your breath away and make you feel as if you're drowning.
And these are just a handful of possible effects.
Anxiety comes in many shapes, sizes, and forms. It effects everyone. Some more than others, some deeper than others, some so strongly that everyday functioning and quality of life are reduced. Anxiety can whisper or it can scream.
No matter how it impacts you, there are a few simple tips and tricks that could support you in overcoming your anxieties. I'd like to share a few of them with you today!
But first, it is important to understand the purpose and the positives of anxiety.
We are designed to experience heightened senses and alertness when we sense danger or possible bad stuff going down. I’m sure we’ve all had that moment during a scary movie when the hair stands up on the back of our necks, we hold our breath, and we prepare to JUMP out of our seats at a moment’s notice. Or that moment when we think we forgot to turn off the oven and just can’t focus on anything but that thought (on top of this, our imaginations tend to run wild with possible scenarios of an overheated oven)!
Anxiety is our emotional/thought, physical, and behavioral response to a perceived danger or unpleasant situation. Just as your body sets off those alarms to let you know that something awful is about to go down in that scary movie, your body sets off alarms when you think that something threatening or undesirable is about to happen.

Anxiety…A Good Thing?

Hear me out when I say this....anxiety can actually be a good thing! True stuff!
Think about it…
If you're feeling a little anxious before that big presentation, it can help you to focus and use your spidey senses (pardon my Spider Man analogy...I just saw on the shirt of a passerby) to keep your mind, body, and soul in the game! Anxious before that hot date? It may help give you that focus to choose the perfect outfit AND that burst of energy to keep you perky even if it’s been a looooonnggg day!
In those cases, anxiousness can be a good thing! Think of it as more excitement and anticipation than a negative thing. For minor anxious moments, you can tell yourself that the anxiety is a positive, that it is exhilaration, and that it will help drive your triumph because it provides that jolt and focus needed!
Check out AnxietyBC for more info on how anxiety can be good.

A Few Things to Note

 According the AnxietyBC, there are a few facts to know about anxiety:
  1. Anxiety is normal: Yep. We all experience it, and experience it often. It is the level of, depth of, consistency of, and impact of anxiety that could become an issue.
  2. Anxiety is not dangerous and is temporary
  3. Anxiety is adaptive and can help us to prepare for certain experiences
  4. Anxiety is a part of life and that's a good long as you use it for good and do not let it take control
  5. Anxiety can become a problem if it takes away from your life or causes you to avoid certain settings, experiences, or daily norms

Some Anxiety-Relieving Tips

So what can you do to help lessen your anxieties?
It is important to focus on your physical symptoms, first. After all, if your body racing, it would be pretty tough to get your thoughts and emotions to slow down!
  1. Focus on your body. Some ideas to promote calmness include:
    • Stretches or yoga
    • Deep breathing exercises
    • Visualization
    • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
    • Take a walk
  2. Focus on your thoughts:
    • Notice what you are feeling
    • Label what you are feeling
    • Identify the triggers of these physical and emotional responses
  3. Focus your thoughts on the rational and the positive:
    • Remember that, just like you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, you can’t believe everything your mind is telling you!
    • Ask yourself rationalizing questions like…
  1. What would I say to a friend who is feeling this way?
  2. How can I shift my thoughts into something more positive?
  3. What will happen if I keep thinking this way?
  4. Do I have any proof that points to another possibility?
  5. Do I have any confirmation that my thoughts are correct?
  6. If I were an outsider looking in, how would I perceive this situation?
Check out this awesome anxiety-relief flow chart. It is a simple exercise that provides more detailed tips, thought organizers, and allows you to create your own plan of attack for when those annoying anxious moments strike.
Or, you can take a gander at this easy and quick little checklist of grounding activities to explore in anxious moments, as well!

When to Seek Help

This is a question that I get asked all the time. People oftentimes don’t know when their anxieties stretch beyond “the norm”, they feel like it is not something that can be fixed, they sometimes don’t even realize that what they are feeling is anxiety, or many other factors keep them from seeking help. A general rule I tell people is, seek help if you feel as if anxiety is…
  • taking over your life and impacting your day-to-day
  • keeping you from enjoying events and experiences and moments that should spark happiness
  • a constant in your mind and you just can’t let go
Or if you just have that gut instinct that it is time for some guidance and extra support.
Kat McGrady April 2018