Anxiety is one of the worst suckers of energy and motivation. For some, anxiety rears its ugly head every now and then for challenging situations like job interviews, public speaking or having to visit the inlaws and for others like me, it can be debilitating, appearing for no apparent reason and very regularly. The thing with anxiety is that when you’re thinking irrationally, it can be quite difficult to think about how to overcome anxiety.
But whichever category you fall into, I want to share my tips on how to overcome anxiety so you can fist pump the air and get on with your day.
11 ways to overcome your anxiety and fist pump the air!
Keep a journal
It sounds a little cliche, but the act of writing down your anxious thoughts and how your body feels helps you to release the negative energy. It’s particularly awesome when there’s no one around to talk to, with a journal, you’re essentially talking to it and getting it all out.
Have a support network
When anxiety strikes, it can be difficult to reason. Sometimes when I know I should call a particular person to talk about how I’m feeling, my negative self-talk takes over, and I talk myself out of calling that person.
When you’re feeling good, create a list of people you can reach out to when you’re feeling anxious. Make a note at the top of the list that reads something like, ‘People who WILL listen and DO care.’
Don’t forget self-care
I tend to harp on about this a hell of a lot, but without my self-care, I’d be an anxious wreck more often than I am. Again another cliche, but it’s so damn true – fill your cup up first.
Go for a walk, go out with friends, read a book or enjoy my favourite self-care activity every so often – a facial. These are all great opportunities to try and slow down your racing and often irrational mind, to practice mindfulness and just to enjoy the moment.
One of the things I enjoy doing to get me centred is to listen to meditation music. I’m talking soft and calming sounds, sounds of the ocean, sounds of the forest and I’m a big fan of Chinese and Japanese meditation music. There are also some great meditation apps available to help you get back into a positive space.
In my blog post, The Art of Saying No, I emphasise the benefits of learning the skill of saying no. I believe it is a skill otherwise it’d be so much easier to do it, and you have to be able to identify when it is you need to say no. Not being able to say no leads to overwhelm and anxiety. Practice saying no more often and don’t feel guilty for it. Firstly, you’re doing it for your health and sanity, and secondly, they won’t feel offended.
A study published in The Journal of Psychiatric Research has found that sleep disturbance, particularly insomnia, can follow anxiety. All those nights when your mind races round and round in circles when it creates silly scenarios which are 99.9% unlikely to happen, it’s damn hard to get to sleep. Then, it’s like a vicious cycle because you wake up exhausted and have to continue to move on with your day both tired and anxious.
Firstly, using your iPhone or laptop before you go to bed is not giving your mind any chance of slowing down so try switching off at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
Secondly, avoid the alcohol. It’s a myth that alcohol makes you sleep better. You may fall asleep quicker, but the quality of sleep is much less.
Lastly, create a relaxing and sleep promoting atmosphere. Read a book that you’re able to easily put down, try using some essential oils in a diffuser or listen to mediation style music to help you get to sleep.
Anxiety symptoms are an outcome of the ‘flight-or-fight’ response created by our bodies. This response sends out loads of adrenaline and other stress chemicals. When we exercise, our bodies burn this adrenaline and chemicals, helping us to relax.
It is amazing what exercise can do for your mental health. As a woman with bipolar, I knew I had to get back into exercise after having my daughter, for the sake of my health.
In the week I started exercising, I felt the best I had in almost two years. I had energy, I was thinking positively, I was sleeping better and eating better. It was difficult to try and get myself to the point of exercising, trying to fit it in around my kids and work, but now the reminder of how good it felt helps me to show up for it next time.
Hold an ice cube
When it comes to working out how to overcome anxiety, I have never heard of this tip until writing this blog post. When you hold an ice cube to your hand, what it does is acts as a diversion. It diverts your mind away from the anxiety or panic attack and directs it to the discomfort of the ice, helping anxiety symptoms to lessen.
Wash it off
Have a bath or shower and literally wash away your anxiety, or at least try. It’s the change of sensation that can help; it can also help to divert your focus. Try to focus on the sound of the water as it splashes over you, concentrate on how the water feels, let it run over your face.
Often, it’s where you are that can be the cause of anxiety. If that’s the case, simply remove yourself from the situation or environment, go outside, take a deep breath and go for a walk.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy isn’t something you have to book yourself into a psychologist to do (although that’s where I learnt about it). A book I can highly recommend, Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman PhD, is based on the principles of CBT and helps you to think healthily. I’ve found this book very useful in turning my somewhat negative thoughts into alternative, realistic views.
Do yourself a favour and bookmark this article for the next time anxiety strikes you. When it does, implement as many of these tips on how to overcome anxiety as you can because you deserve to have your happiness back.
Good luck x
Disclosure: The link to Change Your Thinking by Sarah Edelman is an affiliate link. If you were to purchase this book, there is no extra cost to you.
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