When your emotions get the best of you and your chest feels tight with anxiety, there are some simple, yet incredibly powerful self help steps you can take. I know first hand how paralysing anxiety can be having lived with it (whilst hiding it) for many years in my teens and 20’s, the best thing you can promise yourself is to be patient and kind as you begin to manage your emotions and anxiety. The more you practice these next steps, the more your nervous system recognises that it is safe to relax and that actually, you are okay, even if in the moment you feel far from it. Put these into practice and you’ll begin to feel a difference right away: 1. Controlled long breaths. Short shallow breathing contributes to anxiety, when someone goes into panic, they naturally start breathing fast and gasp for air. When you pause and take a deep breath in through your nose, and slowly breath out, your body gets the signal that it’s safe, your brain gets a wave of fresh oxygenated blood to it, and your nervous system puts its defence down and relaxes. Try it now, take 3 long controlled breaths and feel the wave of calmness through your body. 2. You are not your thoughts. When your mind is racing with negative or ‘bad’ thoughts, this doesn’t make you a bad person, nor are they necessarily real. Around 80% of your thoughts are a habit and are there through conditioning, so technically many of your thoughts aren’t even your own! They are what you’ve picked up from childhood and over the years you’ve began believing them and practiced them enough that they have become a habit.
So the next time you find your mind racing and it triggers a feeling of anxiety, remind yourself you are NOT your thoughts – and choose to think something differently. You are back in the drivers seat and have shown yourself that you can have control. Keep repeating this by changing your focus to things your grateful for, what you’re looking forward to or even distract yourself with some music or a podcast. 3. Swap the caffeine out. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants, your body can have a similar reaction to these as it would show signs of anxiety. Faster heart rate, feeling shaky, sweaty palms, jitters – try swapping your afternoon coffee or cola for a decaf or soft drink and notice the changes! You’ll no doubt sleep better, feel more relaxed and able to manage your emotions. A powerful self help tool to take on the go is the Warrior CBT Wristband, helping you to keep your thoughts in check and give the band a snap when you feel anxious or worried.