“What can I do about my anxiety?”
When people first contact me for support with their anxious experience, there are a few things we start with right out of the box. On their own, they won't solve your anxious problem, but they can form helpful steps in the right direction. Living with overwhelming anxiety? That's tough. These baby steps can make it a little more doable.
You can start to relieve your anxiety now.
2. Get enough sleep. You've already eliminated the coffee, so that will help. I know you’re tired of hearing this, but getting enough sleep helps everything. Including anxiety reduction efforts. For one thing, you’ll cope better with life when you are fully rested. Here's the thing, though, anxiety is a great sleep disruptor. It's not always as simple as getting to bed on time, however, getting to bed on time is a great start. When I interview Anxious Folk in my office about their bedtime habits, I find getting to bed on time can mean anything from midnight to 1 a.m. So, let's start with that. Get to bed earlier. Although many of my twenty-something clients are a generation of sleep deprived vampires, even they can retrain themselves over time. The rest of the adults I work with will also benefit from a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Many people I work with find developing a routine, such as getting things set up for tomorrow, laying out your clothes, packing your lunch, and gathering your stuff by the front door help soothe out the evening and make for an easier morning. In addition, reading, meditating, or taking a warm bath or shower are great ways to ritualize bedtime and get ready for rest.
3. Don’t believe everything you think. This one is huge. I can't say it enought. Your busy brilliant brain is churning out between 60,000 and 600,000 unique thoughts a day. Most of them anxious and negative. Ninety percent of them are the same nasty negative thoughts you had yesterday. Ugh! Your bright and beautiful mind (Oh, did I fail to mention it’s bright people who tend to suffer from anxiety in the first place. Yup! True story. You're brilliant. That's why you're miserable. Great, right!?). Anyway, back where I was, your bright and beautiful mind busies itself with solving problems and churning out problems to solve. At a certain point your anxious mind just runs away with itself into catastrophic, worst-case scenario thinking. Exhausting! And hard to turn off. So, step back and notice the scary story you’re telling yourself, label it as a “story,” and watch it like a movie. Believe it or not, consistently reminding yourself you’re telling yourself stories is a very significant step in dismantling the impact of your scary, negative stories. Besides, if you can step back and watch your mind thinking, who's doing al the thinking anyway? You. Are. Not. Your. Anxiety.
4. Pick up some real relaxation techniques. And do them. Good solid relaxation techniques have always been a big help in reducing and managing anxious experience. Let’s face it, we Anxious Folks tend to be stress cases. Anything we can do to “bring it down” a bit is going to benefit us (and everyone around us). There’s now great brain science supporting the tremendous benefits of meditation for everyone and especially for those of us who are most stressed. Meditation has been found to make measurable differences in the brain. At any age. Isn’t that amazing? Spending 10-20 minutes once or twice a day can do a whole lot for helping you cope with the rest of your day more effectively, while improving your sense of well-being overall.
Self-soothing is one of the things I teach people in every day. Another tool to consider learning is Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). You can Google it. It's a great way to become familiar with the way your muscles are holding tension in the body.