5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety
5 Ways to Cope with Anxiety!
Anxiety can strike in many forms, incessant worry, panic attacks and fear of social situations to name a few and it affects more people than you may realise.
Anxiety is actually part of our natural survival instinct. It triggers the fight-or-flight response which makes us feel worked up and alerts us that we could be in danger or that something bad could happen. If we’re truly facing a fright such as being in a fire the adrenaline of the fight or flight response helps us escape however when the feared situation is nerve-racking but not truly life-threatening such as an important meeting with a boss, the fight-or-flight system can be quite uncomfortable to experience because we are wired to avoid things that scare us.
Our instinct is to try and stop the anxiety we may feel and face with the perceived fright however avoidance of anxiety can actually worsen anxiety in the long run by inadvertently teaching our brains that feeling anxious is bad.
We can eventually become afraid of anxiety itself so ‘What To Do When Anxiety Strikes?’
► #1 Observe and describe the anxiety!
Treat your anxiety like a science experiment and observe everything about it, mentally scan your body from head to toe, ask yourself “where in my body am I feeling the anxiety or how anxious am i feeling right now” on a scale of one to ten. This exercise helps you take a step back from being caught up in your emotional experience and instead activates your prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain used for reasoning and logic.
► #2 Accept the anxiety!
Paradoxically accepting anxiety helps it pass therefore rather than fighting the feeling observe your anxiety and allow it to be there. You don’t have to like the anxiety but it helps to accept its presence. Anxiety tends to come in waves and if you learn to ride with the wave you also learn that eventually the anxiety wave recedes.
► #3 Evaluate and reframe your thoughts!
When we’re anxious we tend to imagine worst-case scenarios. It can be helpful to evaluate how realistic those outcomes actually are for example if you’re worried about receiving negative feedback during a meeting with your boss you can ask yourself questions like “what evidence do I have that this will go poorly” or “will I remember this a month from now, a year from now?” these questions can help you formulate a more realistic helpful mindset such as “this will likely turn out better than I expect and even if it doesn’t I can cope with it”
► #4 Be mindful!
Our minds wander a lot and they tend to wander toward worrying about multiple stressful unresolved matters. When you’re feeling anxious remind yourself to stay grounded in the present moment, you can do this in several ways by noticing the sensations of your body, focusing on your breath and your body position or by looking around you and naming some features of your environment.
► #5 Do the opposite!
Doing the opposite of what your anxiety tells you to do is a way to be empowered! you get to do what you really want to do rather than letting the anxiety dictate how you spend your time so if your anxiety tells you to stay quiet during a meeting at work do the opposite. By sharing your opinion if your anxiety tells you to stay home rather than go to a social event – do the opposite by going to the event.
The more you choose to actively engage in important life activities in spite feeling anxious the weaker your anxiety becomes. Anxiety is a part of life but struggling with anxiety doesn’t have to be. These strategies can help you take back control of your life in moments when you feel overwhelmed by anxiety.