Everyone struggles with anxiety to some degree. For some of us it can be a minor frustration, or it can become a living nightmare. Here are some proven ways to reduce and eliminate anxiety – the first things we address in anxiety therapy.
It’s there for a reason. Maybe not a reason you’re all that comfortable with, but it is trying to tell you something. Anxiety is often seen as an enemy – it can embarrass you, hold you back, even make people think you’re less capable than you are. However anxiety is actually more of a friend, a guide… you’re just not getting the message! Your anxiety is giving you signals that something isn’t quite right. Maybe you’re doing too much and are getting overwhelmed? Slow down and process. Maybe you’re terrified of others judging you and ultimately rejecting you? People will make judgments no matter what and you can never please everyone, so learn to have a level of self-approval that you’re comfortable with.
Start noticing the cues that your stress is getting high so that you can figure out what’s “wrong” in order to find a way to make it better. Is it getting into a cycle of working too hard and foregoing exercise and quality time with those you love? Or feeling restless and panicky when your partner is away a lot? The signs might be pointing to the fact that your confidence and self esteem aren’t in great shape, in which case the answer is to work on that by reading up on and practicing techniques, asking yourself questions and digging deep, or getting support from a professional therapist or coach.
2. Do what you can
Sometimes it’s more important to put yourself first. Our society tends to view this as “selfish”, however in many ways it can be exactly the opposite. Put yourself first and say no to that extra work project, drop that class, or give the party-planning duties to someone else if you need to. If you don’t it’s those closest to you who will bear the brunt of your anxiety and temperamental moods – usually those who you were trying to do something for anyway! Everyone around us benefits from us feeling calm, content and fulfilled. “Doing your best” doesn’t mean “doing better than everyone, at everything”, it means doing what’s best for you.
3. Find the source of pressure
Anxiety is often generated because of the gap between our beliefs and our reality. Who is saying that you need to work until 9pm every night or you’re a failure, or must be married by 30 or you’ll be on the shelf forever? Is it you, your friends, your partner, society? It can be incredibly useful to recognise that many of our beliefs and expectations stem from our upbringing. Maybe your parents were taught to believe that it’s vital to be academically successful, or your teacher felt that you must play down your strengths for fear of being seen as a show-off. This happens mostly unconsciously, ie people are not aware of these beliefs so they aren’t acknowledged, communicated or understood. If your parents (and their parents, and their parents, and so on) didn’t have the awareness of these beliefs then they passed many of them onto you. However this is not about blaming people for your misgivings, it’s about recognising where you are in order to process and deal with it. Your beliefs and expectations are now your responsibility, and who is putting this pressure on you now?
What is inside your control and what is outside it here? Usually so much more is outside our control, but we’re uncomfortable letting that be the case. Let. It. Go. You can’t control another person’s reactions to or perceptions of a situation, and there’s no benefits to be had investing worry in something that won’t matter a week, month or year from now. Recognising that many things are out of your control can be scary, but it can also be very liberating. It gives you the freedom to be as you are instead of feeling the weight of all the things you could be trying to be in charge of.
Accept that you’re not a machine. You’re flawed, you make mistakes, you’re human. And machines don’t have feelings! Allow yourself to be however you are, if you end up not liking it you can always go back to running yourself into the ground.
5. Get with reality
Challenge anxious thoughts by applying logic and reason. Start with the good old “What’s the worst that will happen?” and work backwards and forwards from there – backwards: “how likely is it that the worst will happen, really?”, forwards: “if the worst happens, what then?”. Will you really lose your job if you don’t stay late every night this week? Will your friends abandon you if you can’t make it to that dinner party? A great question to ask is “Who is losing sleep over this?”, most likely it’s just you.
Change your expectations. For things you cannot give up or relinquish responsibility, compromise with change. Make sure they’re realistic and based on objective action rather than an opinion or outcome. This could be “I am going to job-hunt for an hour this evening” rather than “I will submit 10 CVs” or “I will have a new job by next week”. There’s nothing wrong with having goals, but altering the focus will reduce any anxiety.
Lastly, be kind to yourself!
To find out more or to get help with your anxiety, contact us now for a free 20 minute consultation.
Let us know your thoughts and comments on our anxiety tips. Have you tried them? What do you do or use to manage your anxiety?
Get in Touch with Us, we love to hear from you!
» Blog » Anxiety Therapy – 5 Practical...