Wow! Can you believe how fast these 30 days have flown? We’ve reached the end of the 30 Day Overcoming Anxiety Challenge, and I sincerely hope you’re feeling more in control of your anxious mind and that you’ve gained a toolkit of real strategies you can use to feel better despite occasional bouts of anxiety.
We’ve covered a ton of information in this short 30 days. You may need to go back through it to remember some of the advice and action steps. That’s okay. In fact, it’s really a smart idea to review the information from time to time so that you can keep your favorite strategies at your fingertips for use when you need them most.
No matter how much anxiety you’re facing, there are things you can do all by yourself to lessen it. Seeing a mental health professional is also recommended if you need expert guidance and support to handle your level of discomfort. But knowing that you have the power to lessen your own discomfort related to stress, anxiety or overwhelm is pretty darn empowering.
You’ve learned what anxiety is, the ways it affects your brain and how to recognize it. That’s all a great foundation for understanding this toxic condition that can take hold of our lives. You also now understand the impact anxiousness can have on your job, relationships and overall happiness. It’s serious business.
You don’t have to feel overwhelmed, though, because you now know several coping mechanisms for diminishing those awful feelings that come along with anxiety. You can recognize it creeping up on you and know how to frame it in a realistic way. Strategies like deep breathing, exercising, visualization and eating well are things that can be used to maintain a more positive frame of mind with higher energy levels and to stop anxiety in its tracks when it catches you off guard.
Using calming techniques, taking control of your finances and environment, practicing gratitude and beating procrastination are also active methods to reduce anxiety. Finally, please remember that you don’t have to face anxiety and stress on your own. Rely on your support network to help you through the tough times.
Get out there and be social, even when you feel overwhelmed by the world. As social creatures, we need to be around others. Let them help you, make you smile and heal you. Giving of yourself to others is also a way to lessen your fears and put things into perspective.
Which of these 30 days of exercises has resonated with you the most? Which seem like they will fit into your lifestyle and mesh with your personality?
These are the ones you should add to your anxiety toolkit first. When a strategy makes sense to you, it will be easier to implement. Once you begin to gain confidence and feel that you can impact the way you’re feeling, add some other techniques to the mix. Keep what works. Toss what doesn’t, after giving it a fair shot and practicing the method for a bit. I truly hope you feel more control over your anxiety and are ready to face the world with more confidence, peace and enthusiasm.
Today I have another great coping strategy to share with you. It’s deceptively simple, but quite effective. Whenever you find yourself anxious about something that’s about to happen, or might happen in the future ask yourself: “What’s The Worst That Could Happen?”
It may seem too simple, or even a little silly but it works like a charm every single time. When you start to worry or are getting too anxious about something stop and start to imagine in great detail what the worst possible outcome could be. If everything that could go wrong, would go wrong, what would happen? Chances are that the worst that could happen isn’t all that bad.
Let’s say you’re anxious about getting up in front of a group of peers to make a speech. The worst that could happen is that you mess up and stumble over your words. You might not get a big round of applause and may end up with a red face. It’s not the end of the world and since you’re no longer in middle school you don’t have to worry about being teased about it.
Keep running through these little mental scenarios anytime you start to worry and get anxious. This simple little mental exercise puts you back in control. You decide what the worst possible outcome is and then take control of your own actions.
By asking yourself what the worst possible outcome would be, you’re looking at the problem from a different angle. You’re facing your fear and suddenly you’re not anxious about the unknown anymore. It becomes a known quantity and it allows you to decide if this worst-case scenario is worth the risk of going for it.
Nine times out of ten, the worst case scenario is less frightening than the anxiety about the unknown. Most of the time it will be something you can easily live with. Best of all, it’s a quick and easy way of reducing anxiety. Try it and see for yourself how well this works whenever you’re anxious about a future event.
If you’ve been following along with our 30-day Overcoming Anxiety Challenge, I hope you’re starting to feel positive about the ways you can take control of your anxiety through some simple life modifications. These changes can reduce the intensity and regularity of your anxious feelings, for sure. Sometimes, though, a burst of nervousness or panic can hit you out of nowhere.
There are various relaxation exercises that can help in times like these. One of these is to use the power of visualizing to your advantage. Keep reading to discover just what this strategy is and what’s involved in using visualization to calm down.
The idea of visualization exercises can seem a bit intimidating at first. It involves actively picturing yourself in a place that is soothing and relaxing to you.
Essentially putting yourself in different surroundings is a powerful method to trick your mind into believing you are in a safe space that makes you feel happy and at peace. It’s a way to self-soothe or calm yourself when you need it.
Let’s break down the steps involved in an ideal visualization session.
The first and most important step is to choose your safe place. It can be a real spot you’ve visited in the past or even somewhere close to you that you encounter regularly. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be somewhere you’ve physically experienced or one that exists in reality. This is an exercise in imagination, after all.
If you’re a creative person, you may want to bring a whole new world to life in your mind, an ideal place that would delight all of your senses. Make your visualized space personal in as many ways possible in order to receive the greatest effects. The space you create should be the one you always go to in your mind when you need to calm yourself quickly, so make sure it resonates with you strongly.
When actually putting visualization into practice, you want to find a spot that’s comfortable. Doing so will make it much easier to take your mind where it needs to go.
If suddenly finding yourself in a crowd has brought on a bit of a panic attack, seek out a place to retreat like a semi-empty coffee shop or even a locked restroom in a pinch. Make yourself as comfortable as you can before imagining your special space. Then close your eyes and start to think of yourself truly being there. Think about the sights and sounds around you.
Consider why this spot makes you feel good, and embrace those feelings. Surround yourself with as many details as your mind can summon and let yourself embrace each of them. Be mindful of your body’s state at the moment. Feel the tension release from your individual muscles.
If anxious thoughts begin to creep in, picture yourself actually removing or destroying them. You can visualize the anxiety as a dark cloud that is banished by a ray of sunlight or some other physical object that you can rid yourself of.
Visualization can be a powerful technique for taking control of your anxiety the minute it strikes. With some practice and an open mind, you’ll find yourself in control of your anxious feelings and enjoying this quick mental retreat.
Here is a simple and quick meditation to try today.
There are so many lifestyle changes you can make that have positive effects on your anxiety levels. You’ve learned that making changes to your physical environment, adding a nice walk to your day and even incorporating calming scents into your surroundings can lessen the tension you feel.
Taking control of your day and looking ahead to schedule time for meeting your goals is another strategy that can make a huge difference in your life. Read on to learn how a day planner can reduce stress and anxiety. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this life-altering tool.
Do you prefer to write things down in a notebook or keep it all in electronic form?
Would your lifestyle fit a small, portable calendar you can take with you everywhere or do you respond best to having a large visual reminder like a desk calendar or whiteboard that hangs on the wall?
Give it some thought and start with what you think will work best. You can always make tweaks to your system later.
Next, you’ll want to get in the nightly habit of creating a to-do list for the following day. This routine has multiple benefits. It lets you create a “brain dump” by getting a lot of the information that’s floating around in your head out on paper. You’ll likely fall asleep faster with fewer small details cluttering your thoughts. You can look ahead and place some of the tasks in time slots, knowing you’ll be able to complete them when it’s best for you. This exercise also lets you feel confident you haven’t forgotten anything important.
Keeping a day planner adds structure to your life. We all know this is important in reducing anxiety and stress. You can add long-term goals to your agenda, as well. This step lets you feel more in control of the direction in which you’re heading and puts you in the proverbial driver’s seat, rather than feeling like you’re at the mercy of fate.
Along this same line of thought, another great way to keep tabs on your time is to write down regular, mundane activities in your calendar ahead of time. Stuff, like doing the laundry, preparing meals for the coming week, study time for your or your child, paying bills and exercising, can be included on your weekly to-dos as a way of easily holding yourself accountable. Stuff’s more likely to get done when it already has its own time slot.
Finally, don’t forget to add leisure time to your schedule. Planning ahead for a night out with friends or even just sitting down to read a good book will bring relaxation and fun to your life. You can clearly see the ways a day planner can lessen your stress and anxiety. Enjoy the process and make it one that fits your lifestyle.
Getting hit by anxiety isn’t a good feeling. In fact, it can be frightening and your first inclination may be to panic and worry, making the anxiety all that much worse. Stop right there! Panicking is the worst thing you can do in this situation.
I’m serious. The best thing you can do when you start to feel the anxiety rising is to take a deep breath and calm yourself down. The problem with fear and anxiety these days is that it is often unfounded, or not nearly as serious as we may think.
Back in the cavemen days, it made a lot of sense to put our bodies and minds on high alert, when we were faced with a threat like a wild boar about to attack. Our life was in danger and we needed to either be ready to fight or run for our lives.
A fast beating heart, increased breathing, and a big boost of adrenalin made sense in those days. There was even a good reason to lose your lunch. But today, when the fear and anxiety is about getting up on stage, being able to make the next car payment, or going on a blind date, those responses aren’t quite as helpful anymore.
When we are in this fight or flight state, it’s hard to look at the situation rationally. We aren’t very good at objectively judging danger and make rational decisions when we are anxious and stressed out. Everything is much worse than it is in this state of mind. That’s why it’s important to start by calming down. And the best way to do that quickly is to just stop and take a deep breath.
You can do this anywhere, anytime.
When you are feeling the anxiety rise, stand or sit comfortably, close your eyes if possible, and slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat a few times until you can feel yourself starting to calm down. We’ll talk more about breathing exercises in a couple of days. Think of this as the simplest version.
As with many things, it becomes easier and more natural the more you practice. Get in the habit of closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths whenever you start to feel a little anxious or wound up. It also helps do this breathing exercise when you first wake up, before you sit down to get to work, and even before bed. Start practicing and keep up with it until it becomes a habit.
Going forward whenever you get anxious or fearful, your first reaction should be to stop and take a deep breath. After that, you should be able to look at the situation more calmly and be better able to judge if there is actually anything to worry about. You’ll also find yourself calm and collected enough to start making a plan and working through whatever issues arise, instead of simply reacting from a feeling of anxiety.
Let me ask you a question. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, do you have a good support system in place for those bad days when the anxiety becomes too much, or you start to slide into depression? A handful of people who are there for you, that you can use as a soundboard and whose shoulders you can lean on can be invaluable in times of high anxiety?
We’ve talked in the past about the fact that we can get in a spiral of anxiety that it’s hard to get out of. We are anxious and worried, which in turn makes us more anxious and worried about being anxious and worried. You get the idea. If you rely solely on yourself in those situations, it can be hard to get out of your own head long enough to look at the situation objectively and realize that things aren’t nearly as bad or frightening as they seem. This is where that support system will come in handy.
Think about the people in your life that you are close to. Who gets you? Who understands the anxiety you suffer from? Who is a good at pulling you out when you’re having a bad day by offering a hug, drags you out for coffee, or uses humor to make you forget what you’re anxious about, even for just a few minutes?
While you may not feel like socializing when you’re having a rough day or week, or if the idea of spending time with people in itself may make you a little anxious (particularly if you’re an introvert), social contact and connections are important. We are at our core social creatures. That’s why it’s important to set up that support system and reach out to it in times of need.
Of course, you aren’t limited to your circle of family and friends when it comes to this support system. Maybe you aren’t comfortable sharing your anxiety issues with them. Maybe they aren’t willing or in a position to provide you with the encouragement and support you need. Or maybe they just aren’t quite enough help. That’s ok.
Finding a support group or can be a big help. A therapist can be another key figure in your support system. If you are seeing a therapist right now, or are working with a life coach, ask them for help to build out the rest of your support system. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out to your system when you’re in need. They are here to help.