Guest Blog from Jane Etty:
My first blog about anxiety focused on triggers and how anxiety presents itself. In this blog I want to look in more detail at how to manage anxiety once it becomes a regular occurrence. Certain methods are more effective for different people so I would advise trying as many techniques as possible to see which works best for you.
Stay healthy and practice good sleep hygiene
This may sound obvious but maintaining healthy lifestyle habits is crucial when it comes to mental health and managing anxiety. Eating a balanced diet and taking regular exercise (even a short daily walk) can make a huge difference in how we feel. Ensuring we get enough sleep, in an environment that promotes rest, is also very important. A sleep schedule can help this, a bedroom free from technology and disruptions, and a relaxing routine before bed can also be useful. In other words, we want to create an inviting atmosphere to promote sleep. I’ll be discussing this in a little bit more detail in my next blog.
Practice mindfulness and relaxation
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be a quick and effective way to reduce anxiety, as part of a bedtime routine or at any point in the day when you need to employ them. If you notice tensions building, intervening early can prevent anxiety symptoms from worsening. Popular relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness exercises; there are many apps and videos online to help you find out more about these. You can also achieve relaxation by pinpointing what is relaxing for you, like reading a book or taking some time out to watch your favourite TV show.
Other ideas for drawing your mind away from your anxiety include yoga, swimming or mindful walking. Mindful walking is all about diverting your mind and calming your anxiety; listen to the sounds around you, count your steps, and feel your feet on the ground. Finally, a simple grounding technique can be incredibly useful in reducing anxiety and resetting yourself. Please refer to the graphic I have put together as an example.
Identify patterns in your anxiety and break it down
If you are feeling overwhelmed, creating a list of problems and breaking them into small bite-sized tasks or steps is an easy way to simplify them. A really simple yet effective tool is to write a problems list; this can help to empty your head of thoughts and explore possible solutions. I would advise keeping an anxiety diary, including your thoughts and feelings, what you were doing at the time and rating your experience between 0-10 in terms of anxiety. This information will enable you to take the power back and make steps to control your own destination. It is also important to allow yourself time to think and calm down before responding to a situation. If you are worried about something, sleep on it and make a plan the next day if it is still worrying you.
Looking for patterns in your anxiety, when it might occur and in which situations, is also a really useful way to manage it for the future. For example, some people experience high anxiety in the morning time. For my next blog, I will be writing a short case study on morning anxiety and my suggestions for how to start the day positively.
Try positive self-talk
Using positive affirmations and self-talk – either out loud or in your head – can make a world of difference to your anxiety. This starts with owning your feelings, recognising them, validating them and learning from them. As I mentioned earlier, keeping a journal can help you to become aware of your feelings and set small goals for yourself to change your behaviour going forward. It is so important to stop comparing yourself to others – this is often a major cause of anxiety. It is time to focus on your own personal journey and less about what other people are doing or presenting to the world. Here are some positive affirmations for anxiety that me and my clients have found useful.
Prioritise self care
This is something I have spoken about before, but it is worth reiterating – make time for self care! Take time for the things you enjoy, even five minutes a day can make a difference. Take a break from technology, especially social media, and let your brain switch off from the pressures of the outside world. Practicing self care everyday can have a huge impact on your anxiety. For more information about self care, and easy examples to try, take a look at my recent blog on this topic.
Talk to someone
Talking to someone about how you are feeling, whether it be your partner, a trusted friend or even someone completely removed from the situation, can really take a weight off you. You will soon come to realise who makes you feel good to share with; sometimes this can be someone objective like a wellness coach whereas other people prefer a close friend or family member. Discussing your feelings, and inviting the other person to discuss theirs, can help you to feel supported and in turn support the other person. Socialising in general, connecting with others with shared interests, perhaps trying online events in today’s climate, can also take your mind off your anxiety.
Whilst the techniques I have suggested in this blog, including relaxation, grounding techniques and distraction, can help many people short-term, avoiding facing the anxiety head on can sometimes increase the overall impact long-term. Distraction can become a safety behaviour which keeps the real problem ongoing. This is where coaching, talking therapies and specialist support comes in. I can help you to take steps to notice these thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and then make changes. If you are interested in a discovery session with me, free of charge, please do get in touch and we can start to put together a program that suits you.
Jane Etty is a Health, Happiness and Harmony Coach. Take a look at her website here: Blog 1 — JANE ETTY MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEING COACH