Trying to explain anxiety to those who have never suffered, can be extremely difficult… so difficult it could trigger your anxiety.
We often resort to metaphors or analogies to explain what anxiety feels like.
“It feels like being strapped in a chair but looking at a wide open door.”
“It’s like that feeling when you miss a step, but the feeling doesn’t end.”
“You’re swimming and swimming and swimming, getting more and more tired, but there’s no land in sight.”
If you’ve ever suffered from it I’m sure you have you’re own analogy to explain the feeling.
For a while now I’ve been setting my intention on trying to silence the noise. To turn my anxiety into an acquaintance rather than an enemy I’m in constant conflict with. I wanted to be in control again.
Here are 5 things I’ve found that help:
Stop and breathe
Anxiety can often feel like you’ve forgotten how to breathe. It’s the simplest of tasks and then suddenly it becomes the biggest challenge. Every so often take a few moments to pause, and take a conscious breath. Do this often until it doesn’t seem strange anymore, put reminders in your phone, or little notes all over the house. You’ll be surprised how much it helps.
By being aware of your breath you are instantly bought back to the present moment. The only moment you really have. So much of anxiety is caused by the unknown future or the rumination of past events, that by simply just being aware of your breathing it can help you refocus. As well as breathing exercises try bringing your attention to your hands, or your feet it will also bring you back to the present. Back to yourself.
A social media hiatus
Social media can be powerful, so powerful that we really don’t fully understand the affects of it yet. We’ve seen how social media can be used for good and for bad. But what is most powerful is how subconsciously it’s shaping how we think. We’re constantly exposed to pictures of what life ‘should’ be like, where we ‘should’ be by age 25, or what we ‘should’ look like. This feeds into dangerous habits of comparison and not being appreciative of what we do have. We constantly dismiss the present for a perfect fantasy.
If you find yourself feeling drained after a social media scroll, it’s time to call a hiatus. Take a break. A break from ‘perfection’. Enjoy the taste of your meal rather than the look, enjoy the conversation with the company you keep rather than perfect selfie. Once you cut all that out your left with enough energy and focus to enjoy the moment.
Remember all those bed time routines you would huff and puff over as a child, turns out they’re extremely important.
There is nothing that can make you feel as good as a full nights sleep. When I’m suffering from anxiety pretty bad, I will wake up at 4am routinely. I won’t be able to sleep properly after that, and I definitely will find it harder to be aware of my thoughts. At least an hour before bed put away your phone, pick up a book or journal instead. Start a routine and try to get as many zzz’s as you can. Trust me, there is no substitute.
When I’m worried about something, no matter how big or small it may seem, I practice zooming out. For example, if something has happened at work which I’ve been unable to shake off, I ask myself will this matter in 3x months? 9x months? 18 months? 5 years? I zoom further and further out until the picture becomes clearer.
I’ve learnt that you can’t stop thoughts, the moment you think you can stop them, that then becomes your focus and they’re heightened. What you can do is become aware of them.
The moment you become aware and watch them, you realise that they will come and go. Think of thoughts as guests, some are welcomed and some can be uninvited and unwanted. But the thing about guests is that they’ll leave. The thoughts will pass as does everything else. When you watch your thoughts you learn how to not get attached and that is how you begin to quiet the noise.
What are some of your techniques of dealing with anxiety?