5 Steps to Deal With Anxiety
I'm personally not an anxious person with only a few times in my life where I have really experienced anxiety - that was until this year and the endless emotional challenges that have accompanied it.
It seems I am not alone, according to Anxiety UK there has been a 69% rise in reported increases of anxiety since lockdown 2020.
My anxiety peaks at night and during times when I am severely stressed it will wake me up around 3am for the duration of the night - it is truly exhausting. From that point on, my mind will not stop and I can physically feel an increase in my heart rate and a slight tremble in my hands. Over the years I have learnt some amazing tools that have helped me deal with it.
This is by far the most powerful tool to calm down our Automatic Nervous System (ANS) and kick start our Parasympathetic Nervous System which is the side of rest and restore. Our breath is one of the few bodily functions that is both automatic (like sleeping/ blinking/ digesting) and that we can also do consciously. It is also quite literally our life force, without it would not last much longer than 5 minutes (Wim Hof aside).
‘The mind is the king of then senses, but the breath is the kind of the mind’
By simply elongating our exhalations, we tell our body that it is time to relax, we calm our nervous system and we stop the production of cortisol and adrenaline- the stress hormones in our body. Think about when you are stressed and you take a long sigh, the body is naturally helping you to calm down. The following breathing routine will help with this:
Get comfortable sat on the floor or a chair with you spine straight
Become present, get grounded, so feel your bums and feet and be aware of your body
Take a few rounds of breath to help you get present
As you inhale breathe deeply into your belly an then up into your diaphragm
Follow the rhythm below:
Inhale – for a count of 4 seconds
Exhale – for a count of 8 /10 / 12
Hold your breath out after the exhale - for a count of 4
Repeat for 5 minutes then gently let the controlled breathing go and come back to your
2. Get in Nature
Nature is magical! It reminds us that there is an order far greater than beyond us, how does an acorn grow into a tree, how do cells mutilate to create a perfect baby, how are the best colours on earth in the natural world and made for pure delight?! No science or computer could possibly create the oak tree! Nature also reminds us of seasons, of rituals, of beginnings and ending. It gives us perspective on life, our place in the world, of life and death and the great circle of life. It is utterly majestic and breathtakingly beautiful. For me personally, nature is also the easiest place for me to connect to my Soul, to the quiet rhythm of life; lay in grass, jump in cold water, stand on a mountain, walk in the rain, soak up the sun, bathe in the ocean.
This is so simple, you can literally find the nearest piece of grass, take off your shoes, ground and breath. Soak up all that natural energy and enjoy.
3. Move Your Body
Below our necks we have these amazing things call bodies, go say hello!! One of the most common ways we connect with our bodies is through sex or intense exercise. Yet our bodies are talking to us all the time; aches and pains, stiffness, space an flexibility. Energy and our emotions get stuck in our bodies and cause us to get more and more physically tight, to the point where you might not even be breathing whilst doing activities. Moving our body and doing exercise encourages us to look after our bodies and oxygenate them at the same time. Getting massages as well will help move the stuck energy so go treat yourself or buy some good quality and give yourself a self-massage. Any exercise really is great here but Yoga needs a special mention as it aligns breath with moment. So if you really want to help your anxiety give Yoga a go – you won’t regret it.
4. Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t
For so many of us life feels overwhelming at times, with so many personal challenges, work challenges and then community and environmental ones. It can feel like we are climbing a never ending mountain. This is why it is so important to focus on what you can control; these might be things like your diet, exercise, your thoughts, how you look after your health, what you watch on TV, who you surround yourself with, how you spend your time and the work you choose to do. Things you can’t control may include; COVID, the economy, the government (here and abroad), what other people think of you, whether you can sing well or not, the weather, how other people drive…
When we focus on things that we can’t control it creates more stress and anxiety in our bodies and we feel helpless and more unhappy. By focusing on what we can, which may be as simple (or profound, depending on your perspective) as how we choose to see our current circumstances – are they hard or are they lessons? For example we can become much more peaceful and accepting. Surrender to things that are out of your control and trust that whatever is unfolding, even on your darkest days they will eventually be in service of you. How many times have you had the ‘gift of hindsight’? Well you can have that in the present, its called trusting and letting go.
5. Improve your evening routine
Getting a good nights sleep really makes all the difference to our entire bodies and mental health. Sleep is where we rest, rebuild cells, restore energy, and our bodies heal. So a good evening routine is super important. Here are some basics to get you going.
· Try not to eat later than 7pm.
· Have a consistent bedtime preferably before 11pm (mine is 9pm!).
· Make your bedroom a tech free space.
· Don’t use any technology at least 90 minutes before bed.
· Have clean sheets.
· Avoid the alcohol – it might send you off quick but it is guaranteed to wake you up and keep your sleep quality low.
· Drink a soothing tea – something with camomile.
· Have a bath.
· Massage yourself in essential oils.
· Use dim light like candles, a Himalayan Salt Lamp.
· Practice gratitude and reflect on the great things in your day.
Even when I travel I take a little candle, my favourite book and journal, and a lovely pillow spray that is calming so I can create some kind of relaxing ambiance before I go to sleep
With all of these things doing it once may not make much difference, but if you build up in all areas over time you will notice a huge shift in not only how you feel in regards to your anxiety, but to many other areas of your life as well!