“You can’t always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.” ~ Wayne Dyer
Racing thoughts, shortness of breath, tightening of chest, unmanaged negative thought spirals…ever experienced these? If yes, then you know what anxiety feels like. Don’t worry, its something we all face from time to time in our lives.
Life is full of beautiful moments, dreams fulfilled, family fun and also full of work, responsibilities, financial commitments. Most of this we handle well on a daily basis. But there are times when handling it all can become overwhelming and emotionally hard. Its when this feeling of overwhelm persists for longer periods of time, you know that anxiety has set in and you need to do something to reduce it.
A little bit of anxiety is part of normal life. It keeps us safe from impending dangers/risks. Its our brains biological wiring to protect us. Unfortunately though, its when this anxiety takes over our life, it makes us suffer from nervousness, predicting the worst outcome, avoiding risk/conflict and have chronic muscle tension.
Anxiety and stress have become the #1 mental health epidemic in todays world leading to depression, heart trouble, obesity, anti-social behaviors etc.
5 Step Plan to Positively Reduce Anxiety
But, the good news is, it can be handled. Like Wayne dyer says so eloquently in the quote I began with…we CAN always control what goes on inside.
The best way to handle anxiety is head on with a plan. This 5 step plan can become your go to as soon as you realize that the anxiety has set in. This way you will be able to work towards a calmer you, rather than worry yourself into a deeper state of anxiety.
Step 1: Deep Breathing
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest taken between two deep breaths.” ~ Etty Hillesum
Breathing, deep breathing is the first and probably the fastest way to calm the mind and body. The simplest technique is the 5 inhale, 2 hold, 5 exhale method. For this calming exercise, you need to lie on your back. Place a small book(any light object) on your belly and take a deep breath. Take 5 seconds to inhale, hold your breath for 2 seconds and then take 5 seconds to exhale and then hold for another 2 seconds. Repeat this as many times as you like. Minimum 8-10 times is ideal. More if you feel like you need it.
Your mind will calm down considerably after this. It might take a few times to master this way of breathing, but dont let that stress you, its far easier than it sounds.
Step 2: Pay attention to your thoughts
“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”~ William S. Burroughs
The mind has been termed the Monkey mind for a reason…it’s because it just can’t stop jumping. The negative thought pattern we all go through during an anxiety attack is nothing more than the monkey mind taking over. Hence, after we have done our deep breathing and have calmed the monkey mind to a certain extent, its now time for us to focus on what it is that brought on this anxiety in the first place. Paying attention to those thoughts and writing them down everytime you feel this, is a good way of finding the pattern and reason for the same. This note pad will be your tool into understanding yourself better and thereby controlling those triggers.
Step 3: Face the Fear
“You have dug your soul out of the dark, you have fought to be here; do not go back to what buried you.”~ Bianca Sparacino
Once you have completed step 2, you will have a rough idea as to what is the cause of your anxiety. With this knowledge you need to face it head on. Running away from the trigger is giving that fear more power over you. Hence take your power back and face that fear. You may need to talk to a counselor/therapist to make sense of it all and heal from it. But take the needed step in facing that fear. Don’t let the anxiety win.
Step 4: Take Action
“Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.”~ Roy Bennett
If you have gone through Steps 1, 2 & 3 you will definately have a good handle on your anxiety. But, sometimes, even after going through those steps, if you still don’t feel completely calm, you may need to take further action to handle and reduce the deep seated stress. Usually an addition on certain natural herbs and supplements in your diet can do the trick. I usually suggest taking controlled doses of Ashwagandha and Honey daily, including some “B”Vitamins. Secondly external use of Lavender essential oils helps tremendously.
Step 5: Acceptance of Anxiety
“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.” ~ Paulo Coelho
This is probably the hardest pill to swallow. Accepting your anxiety instead of resisting it(with fear) leaves it powerless. It means you have accepted, that this is something you need to handle on a daily basis and are making yourself mentally equipped to do so. No matter where the anxiety came from, whether its genes or lifestyle or both, accepting it puts you in a position of power. Accepting it also means you need to nurture an environment of calm in your life daily.
Another twist to how to deal with anxiety is below…it makes me smile and I use this example with so many of my clients. It makes them smile too. A change in perspective if you get the gist 🙂 :
❤ “How can a person deal with anxiety? You might try what one fellow did. He worried so much that he decided to hire someone to do his worrying for him. He found a man who agreed to be his hired worrier for a salary of $200,000 per year. After the man accepted the job, his first question to his boss was, ‘Where are you going to get $200,000 per year?’ To which the man responded, ‘That’s your worry’” ~ Max Lucado 🙂
Do you have any tips to share on how to handle or reduce anxiety? Please share them in the comments below.
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