Throughout my life, anxiety has often got the better of me….capturing my attention and hooking it in with thoughts and worries about the past or the future….things I couldn’t control. At times worries have prevented me from doing things I enjoyed and held me back from challenges.
When anxiety comes, it’s like a weight on your shoulders….instead of engaging in life and enjoying the moment, thoughts simply weigh you down. However, it’s important to know that anxiety can be treated and managed.
Here are three of my favourite tips for reducing worry. Try these simple tips and see how they work for you. I suggest practicing them when you’re feeling good, so that you can learn them and then apply them during times of increased stress.
- Slow your breath. Breathe in for 3 seconds, then out for 3 seconds. Repeat 10 times, and notice how you feel. Slowing your breath is key for controlling anxiety symptoms – slowing the breath will signals to your body to relax, and will help you to start to breathe more deeply (diaphragmatic breathing). You can do this technique anywhere!!
- Try worry time. Spend 5 minutes each morning actively worrying (yes, that’s right!). By giving your worries the time of day they’re looking for, often they don’t distract us so much throughout the day. If you start to worry later in the day, put that thought aside for worry time tomorrow!! For full instructions on this techniques, see this detailed post on Worry Time
- Practice mindfulness. Regular mindfulness practice can help us to unhook from our thoughts when they’re distracting us. Rather than trying to challenge our thoughts, mindfulness can help you to let go of your thoughts and maintain a focus on the present. Mindfulness is also relaxing and can be a fantastic way to unwind after a stressful day. Download a free app, such as Smiling Mind, and try practicing mindfulness for 10 minutes each day for a week, and notice how you feel! For more details on mindfulness, see this post.
Taking time out for self care is essential for managing anxiety. Would you try these tips? What else works for you when you’re feeling worried?
If you find that worry is interfering with day to day life, call Lifeline (Australia only) on 13 11 14 for free telephone counselling on a 24/7 basis, and see your GP for further help.