I have lived with anxiety for more years than I was aware of. Originally blaming teenage hormones, bad relationships or work stress it took many years to turn my view inwards and try to find the pilot light for what I was experiencing.
This is still all very new to me so I am always discovering different ways to manage my emotions as I learn that this is a part of who I am and not something I can bandage up and wait for it to heal itself.
So here are my 5 tried and tested methods of how to remain grounded when anxiety kicks in and turbo boosts me into the stratosphere.
Now this always seems like a ridiculous suggestion, of course you are breathing, but how are you breathing? Slow, sharp, shallow breaths can be panic inducing, fuelling anxiety and making it feel like you can’t catch up. Close you eyes and place your hands on your abdomen, sloooooow doooooown. My personal favourite is alternate nostril breathing, although this is not really something you can practice in public! If you can try to visualise the air as it enters your nostrils, travels down your throat and swirls around your body. Hold it in for just a second then let if flow out of your nose or mouth. Slow and steady, picture the breath, let your shoulder relax and breath. Even just a few breaths can make it feel like the treadmill you are on has slowed to a pace where you can gain a little perspective.
I have practiced Yoga, on and off, for many years. Initially wanting to be flexible and show off by doing some crazy balance but I soon learnt there was so much more to it than that(which is a good job as I am still not flexible and can’t do any crazy balances!). I have attended classes but sometimes life gets busy and you need a quick fix. Thankfully I discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, she’s a life saver! With sessions for every mood; from 5 minute instructional videos to full 50 minute practice there is something for people of all experience levels. Feeling the mat beneath me helps me to ground myself, relax my body and quiet my mind. Here are a few of my favourites when feeling anxious:
3. Walk the Dog
Animals are such wonderfully grounding creatures. They truly live in the moment with no worries about yesterday or anxieties about tomorrow (jealous much?). Being around them can help you channel that state of mind. I’m the first to admit that I can find it frustrating when, somedays, my dog chooses not to do as he’s told. We can’t take this personally, we just have to be. They will pick up on how you are feeling so getting more anxious and wound up just won’t help. Get out into the fresh air and walk, play, run, be in the moment and enjoy it. The more positivity you put out there the better your dog will respond, in turn boosting those good feelings.There are many studies to evidence spending time with animals can assist physical and mental illnesses as well as bringing people out of their shells, check out the amazing work the charity PAT (Pets As Therapy) do to find out more.
4. Turn Should into Could
Life can get so hectic and overwhelming but if you sit back and think about it there is very little that you HAVE to do, mainly go to work and pay the bills. I have had mornings where I open my eyes and, for no apparent reason, there is a dark cloud over me. Unable to brush it away and skip out of bed I often find myself adding to the cloud by drawing up a mental list of everything I should be doing: Not being lazy & getting up, going to the gym, cleaning the house, writing a shopping list, returning that dress I borrowed from a friend, calling family I haven’t spoken to for weeks. Before long I am so angry at myself and stressed about the day ahead I just want to crawl back under the covers. But what happens if we turn should into could. If it helps write a to do list then work through is saying “I could go to the gym” or “I could do the food shopping today”. You will soon realise that perhaps you could do it another day or maybe getting a task done will actually drag you out of your funk. I often feel that the gym, yoga or dog walking is a chore on days like this but I know that doing them will make me feel better. Other tasks like house work or ironing can always wait until the cloud has lifted.
5. Be kind to yourself
It’s OK to feel what you are feeling and adding to it by telling yourself off is not going to help. Somedays you just have to accept you may be less productive than usual or not be as social as you’d like. The temptation is always to reach for the chocolate or order in a take away, there is nothing wrong with this but be careful not to gorge yourself to the point of regret. There is nothing wrong with treating yourself but try to treat yourself well. Cook some homemade comfort food and curl up in front of your favourite film or soak in a bubble bath and pamper yourself. You can’t fire on all cylinders all of the time so don’t dwell in these moments but comfort yourself as you pass through them. Tomorrow you can hold your head up and be ready to face the world a fresh.
Working through these feelings is never easy, somedays I do it with ease and others I can have a real battle on my hands. I’d love to hear if you have your own tricks so please share, if you can, in the comments below. If not, through trial and error you will find what works for you but in the meantime give these a try and let me know how you get on.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a happy & healthy week ahead xx