Tag Archives: reduce anxiety

Dealing with my anxiety

Photo on 2013-10-16 at 13.33 #5

Dealing with my anxiety

I never really acknowledged my anxiety for many years. I always felt I was more depressed than anxious but now I realise that anxiety has been a constant companion by my side. I have just learned strategies to help get me through.

We all feel anxious at times and this is healthy. It is the body’s way of preparing us for a threat. The problem is that in modern day living, the threat won’t usually kill us yet the body reacts the same way it would if there was a real danger to us. Psychologists say that this is down to evolution and the fact that the ‘old brain’ – the amygdala and the hypothalamus still activate in the same way that they would have thousands of years ago when faced with a hungry lion, for example. So, nowadays, in modern living, we can be triggered by our body’s natural reactions and interpret this as real danger. Understanding that even though our bodies are preparing us for a fight/fight or freeze response does not necessarily mean we are in immediate danger has helped me to separate physical symptoms from any real threat or danger. Well, it’s a start at least!

The other strategy I try to use is to ask myself whether my worry is a real worry or a hypothetical worry (a “what if” type worry). If it is a hypothetical worry, I try to dismiss it and distract myself with something else. I used to believe that worrying would somehow keep me safe but I have since challenged the idea that worry is a good thing. I can think if many times when I have worried and it has had not effect on the outcome. One of my favourite quotes is: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere”. I think this is very true. I see worry as mental torture now and although I cannot stop the thoughts coming, I am better at dismissing them and not focusing on them or giving them any attention. Think of it this way – you can’t control who knocks at your door but you can choose how long you wish to entertain them for. Your thoughts can be seen in the same way.

I also remind myself that thoughts are not facts – they are just my perceptions of reality, not necessarily the actual reality out there.

Anxiety comes and goes in my life. It has been debilitating at times but I have learned that the only way to reduce anxiety is to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone by confronting my fears. Anxiety is caused by overestimating the threat and underestimating our ability to cope. I talk to myself more positively and tell myself that I will find a way through, no matter way. I have to repeat affirmations to myself regularly but they do help me.

Anxiety can be managed, I know because I have done it. I am still a work in progress though as life is naturally ‘up and down’ and anxiety always seems to hover nearby. Having said that, I do feel I am less anxious than I used to be and I keep working at it and resisting it. You can too!

Mandy X

 

3 ways to embrace and reduce stress

 

peace photo

 

3 ways to embrace and reduce stress

I find life very stressful these days. There seems to be less time to enjoy life and most of my time is spent rushing about trying to complete chores and ticking off items on my to-do list. I know I am not alone as many people that I speak to seem to be sharing a similar experience. When did we let it get to this? Stress seems to be an integral part of modern day living. I have found a way that helps me to feel less stressed in the moment and here it is:

1) Acceptance

I have often found myself resisting what is happening in my life. I get angry at the injustice as I see around me, I feel sorry for myself at times and feel frustrated when life doesn’t turn out as I hoped it would. In the past I have spent countless hours resisting ‘what is’. I am getting better at accepting what is going on in my life rather than wishing I had a different life. This does not mean that I have become passive but it does mean that I have stopped resisting the reality that I am experiencing. Acceptance has a lot to do with acknowledging what is going on. Once we accept the true nature of our experience we can begin to create a realistic plan.

2) Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a tricky skill to to master. It requires that we calm our busy brains and focus our attention on the present moment. I find this incredibly hard to do because my mind is always wandering off. Mainly I worry about the future and can get myself into a right tizz over possibilities that may never come to be. Mindfulness ensures that we enjoy the present moment and the present moment is all that we really have. Touch, taste, see, hear and smell everything around you. Engage your senses in the present moment.

3) Detach from negative thinking

Our thoughts create our emotions. If our thoughts are negative and full of worry, our behaviour will be in line with this thinking and our focus will be on our fears and insecurities. Learning to detach from our thoughts is a skill that can be learned. When you find yourself thinking a negative thoughts such as, “I will never find someone to love me”, immediately challenge it. Ask yourself where the evidence is for this thought and check whether there is an alternative way to view the particular problem or issue.

There is a saying: “when you are in your own mind, you are in enemy territory”. This saying is so true. Our thoughts can lead us to heaven or hell. Learn to separate your thoughts from the reality. Thoughts are often based upon our own insecurities and false assumptions.

I have found the above three strategies very useful. When I am in the middle of an anxious phase I stop myself and I mentally go through the above three strategies. I have found them to be very effective in lessening my anxiety and I hope you receive the same benefits.

Mandy X

Perspective

 

Ascend

Ascend (Photo credit: Billy Wilson Photography)

Perspective

For some reason I have always been able to see life from a distance. I liken it to watching a large anthill. Seeing the ants rushing about, carrying food along and carrying out their daily routines oblivious to the larger world that exists around them. The many fields with more anthills all around them. All that exists for these ants is their anthill and along with that awareness comes a limited perspective on what it is really all about.

I’m not saying that I believe in aliens but I often look at our planet and see all the conflict among us, on a micro level between friends and family and on a larger scale where countries, religions and political parties are involved. I wonder if we would all manage to put aside our differences if we were attacked by some unknown outside force.

This overarching perspective has helped me to transcend the petty small issues of daily living. The more we keep our eye on the really important stuff the less significant the small troubles seem.

Tips for maintaining perspective:

1) When going through a tough time, remind yourself that whatever you experiencing will not last forever. See it as an opportunity to show yourself how strong and resilient you can be.

2) Think about how you will feel tomorrow, one week from now or a few months from now. Whatever seems insurmountable in the present often isn’t such a big deal when we look back on it.

3) Keep a sense of humour and always remember that there are others worse off that you. Be aware of all the good in your life to counteract negative thinking.

4) Take time out, remove yourself from the situation if possible. Sometimes a change in scenery is all we need to encourage fresh perspectives.

5) Think about why whatever you are going through is NOT a problem. This encourages logical rational thinking and takes the emotion out of the equation. Emotions lead us to distort reality.

Perspective helps to maintain equilibrium and encourages a healthy detachment from current woes. Meditation helps to maintain perspective and calm a busy brain. Try not to get caught up in the moment when you are feeling emotionally vulnerable or overwhelmed.

Mandy X

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