8 tips to keep calm when anxiety creeps in
An increasing number of women suffer with anxiety. For many, it only takes a moment for anxiety to creep in and cause an attack that makes time stand still. While we're aware of the facts and figures on young women suffering from anxiety, these will never be able to portray the battle many face on a daily basis.
From one Brighton Girl with anxiety to another, here some tips to help you ride the wave when you’re feeling anxious.
1. Acknowledge the first sign of anxiety
It might sound silly, but most people don’t realise they are suffering with anxiety until they are in the midst of it. Being aware of what makes you anxious and what the first signs are before an attack can be very productive in counteracting the anxiety.
When you know the signs of an attack, you can take measures to overcome them as they happen, as well as working to prevent future attacks when you know which measures work.
2. Accepting that you’re anxious
By accepting that you’re anxious, you can minimise the effect it has on your mind and body. Giving the feelings and thoughts a label means it’s easier to understand and work with it. Accepting you’re anxious and telling yourself it’s okay to feel like this can make your thoughts and feelings less scary and more manageable.
3. Validate your feelings
Give yourself a reason for why you’re feeling anxious. It could be that you heard a strange noise behind you whilst walking home, or that you overheard your name in a conversation and think people are gossiping about you. For me, being in busy and crowded places brings on anxiety - especially when I feel I can’t escape.
It doesn’t matter how big, little, serious or silly the reason behind your anxiety is, it is still important. Validating your feelings puts things into perspective, and also allows you to focus on possible solutions.
4. Confront the anxiety
It’s so easy to run away from things that make us uncomfortable. We have learnt through both nature and nurture to stay away from situations that are dangerous, so running away from them will teach your mind and body that you are in danger.
For example, if you get anxious in a supermarket it is better to stay in the supermarket and teach your mind and body it is not a life-threatening situation, rather than running away. Confronting the fear and staying in the situation until you calm down will teach your panic response that the situation is not dangerous and reduce the number of future attacks.
Common signs of anxiety are a tight chest and shortness of breath. Controlling your breathing will help you focus on something whilst the world is spinning while also reversing the release of adrenaline. Breathing slowly and deeply can help your body cope both physically and mentally when you’re feeling anxious.
6. Stop thinking negatively
It’s so easy for our minds to play games with us when we feel anxious. They tell us we’re not good enough, or that we’re stupid to feel this way. They tell us that by feeling anxious we’re weak and don’t deserve X and Y.
When you notice you’re in a negative thought cycle, keep telling yourself to STOP. Every time you notice yourself going back into the cycle, tell yourself again: STOP. It may not stem the thoughts and feelings for long, but it is a good way to stop the catastrophic thought cycle from escalating.
7. Use positive coping statements
In addition to the STOP advice, using coping statements can really help to break the cycle further. Telling yourself “I can do this”, “I’ve gotten through this before” or “I can do it again” can really have a positive impact on your mind and body.
8. Shifting your focus
Adult Colouring books have risen in popularity in the past few years, with many people finding that distracting their mind temporarily can really help with the immediate symptoms of anxiety. It doesn’t have to be colouring - it could be writing in a diary or going for a run - but an enjoyable activity can be a fantastic outlet for when you’re feeling uneasy. Sometimes it’s the simple things in life which have the greatest effect.
Written by Imogen.