“Don’t wait for your feelings to change to take action. Take action and your feelings will change.” ~ Barbara Baron
Anyone who has struggled with anxiety will recognise the racing mind, the thousand of little worries that gather together to create a tightness in the chest, the shortness of breath, and the overwhelming sense of fear at what is round the corner. Sometimes the source is obvious, but many times it gradually creeps up on you. Today’s busy world does little to help you keep perspective.
Anxiety is distress, caused by fear of danger or misfortune (real or imaginary), and while in short bursts can be motivating and productive in achieving one’s goals, over worry in the long term will deplete the nervous system and lead to exhaustion and negative thinking patterns.
Taking action, and learning the psychological skills needed, can transform your way of being to a much more grounded and productive place.
You can create your own road map with these skills to navigate stress, anxiety, and worry in five steps.
- Slow your roll.
When anxiety hits, everything around us seems to speed up. Physically, we feel our heart rate quicken or breath become shorter; and mentally, we might start to head down a rabbit hole of worst-case scenarios.
When this happens, slow down. Shift activities, call a friend, watch a funny YouTube video, go for a run—anything that interrupts the cascade of worry and overwhelm that can create a mountain out of any molehill.
- Ask yourself: “What is true or what is actually happening right now?”
Sometimes, just labeling exactly where you are in time and space (i.e. “I am driving to work.” “I am sitting at my desk.” etc.), helps to refocus the brain and disrupt the physiological response that happens when stressors arise.
Focusing on what is actually happening instead of “what if” helps us to minimise our initial reaction of panic and fear to awareness, and helps you maintain perspective.
- What do I fear losing if this is true?
Because anxiety is driven by fear, it is both empowering and helpful to label where the fear actually stems from. Many times, this can be from a fear of losing something—security, money, friendship, or love.
By noting mentally what we are afraid might happen in a given situation, we can easier recognise the worry for what it is, most often, a fear of loss. The next time you feel anxiety coming on, it may be helpful to ask yourself which of these areas you fear losing?
- Where might I be limiting myself within this belief?
As human beings, we have a tendency to focus on what is not going well, limiting our beliefs to those that focus on scarcity or lack. When anxiety is high, it can be much easier to focus on all that is wrong or bad instead of what is working or going well.
By simply pausing and recognising where you might be holding on too tightly or limiting your possibilities, you may notice that the picture is in fact, much bigger than you had originally thought.
- Could there be a hidden gift or silver lining amidst this situation?
We often learn from problems, mistakes, or painful events. Reminding yourself in a moment of panic that you’ve always landed on your feet can help you to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Envisioning yourself on the other side of this stress, lesson in hand, can be enormously helpful in actually getting you there. Sometimes simply re-framing the situation to seek the lesson or hidden positive at the onset of a stressful situation can be useful in diffusing some of the anxiety.
I have learned, through years of exploring and recognising my own anxiety triggers, how to create a sense of peace and calm even when things seem dire.
As human beings, we are capable of creating our experience and have the power to choose whether we lead with fear and anxiety or a balanced perspective and curious mind. Which do you choose? What experience will you create?
About Stephanie Burg
Stephanie is a Certified Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach and professional ballet dancer. Her coaching programs and workshops have helped successful women who struggle with their weight, diet and stress levels to achieve a body they love so they can live the life of their dreams. To schedule a complimentary breakthrough session, or for healthy recipes, visit her website.
This post was republished with permission from tinybuddha.com. You can find the original post here.