Living in a world where everything is expected of us now, has us all running at such a fast pace while trying to get through the day as best we can. More often than not this leads to us having very little down time in each and every day. When we look at our lives through this lens it’s easy to see why so many people struggle with high levels of anxiety.
We all struggle with anxiety at times some of which is very normal and even in certain situations can be helpful. If you’re asking why I say helpful, anxiety at times simply “motivates us to action”. Examples of this can be meeting a work deadline on time or a student getting their assignment over the line before its due date.
So yes, anxiety is normal and even helpful. The problem arises when it becomes more of the norm in our lives as opposed to something which only occasionally rears its ugly head.
For anyone who struggles with anxiety they know only too well how debilitating it can be and the negative impact it has on their lives. Often preventing people from doing many of the things they would like to do if it wasn’t for their anxiety in the first place.
Some common physical symptoms of anxiety
Feeling caught for breath
Feeling nauseous/sick in your stomach
Sweating, muscle pains, feeling shaky and getting startled easily
Being generally on edge
Some common ways anxiety affects your behaviours and feelings
Having a strong urge to avoid situations that trigger your anxiety
Feeling you have to do everything perfectly
Feeling pessimistic in respect of all life’s endeavours
Constantly worrying and thinking something will always go wrong
Asking lots of questions and constantly needing/seeking reassurance
Anxiety can often lead to people avoiding events such as birthdays, weddings or maybe not going to
a gym class due to the anxiety it provokes by just the thought of walking in the door. It can prevent
you standing up for yourself in the workplace or finding your voice within your relationships.
Struggling like this for extended periods of time has a knock on effect on a person’s self-esteem and
So what can we do to reduce Anxiety?
Remove all unnecessary stress
It’s very enlightening when we step back for a moment, take an inventory of our life and look at all the unnecessary stress that we have in our lives. It might be rolling out of bed last minute in the morning and rushing to get ready to leave the house. Now you’re stuck in traffic and running late, so before you’ve even started your day at work your stress levels are through the roof. For many people anxiety has already kicked in at this point. Even if it hasn’t yet, you now are far more vulnerable to being anxious as the day goes on.
How do we fix this?
Get up at least an hour earlier than you normally do giving yourself plenty of time at the start of your day.
Now look through all other aspects of your day and do the same, looking for any unnecessary stress we impose on ourselves and work towards problem solving or just completely removing it from our lives altogether.
Other common things can be, not taking sufficient breaks throughout the day, saying yes to
everything that’s asked of you even though it may not be within your capacity, not having a plan in place for the day ahead and procrastinating on things of importance which only ever leads to higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Morning and Night Routine
Getting up nice and early, giving yourself plenty of time before you have to leave the house, have a shower every morning for 7-10 minutes and if brave enough use the last minute of your shower and run the cold water. This is not to get clean, obviously getting clean is a bonus and helpful to your work colleagues but having a shower first thing revitalises you and can help shake off any unwanted emotions of fear, panic and even helps increase motivation.
Do a 10 minute mindfulness breathing practice; these 10 minutes can be the difference
between us having a good or bad day, especially when practiced on a regular basis.
Mindfulness has shown to activate the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This produces a
calm or relaxed feeling in the mind and body and decreases stress and anxiety.
Eat a healthy breakfast; it goes without saying breakfast is one of the most important meals of your day, and it’s important to note that hunger has been shown to often trigger
symptoms of anxiety.
Your night routine is just as important as your morning routine. We want to be as relaxed as possible each night before we go to sleep; the reason for this is it helps us get a longer period of deep sleep. Deep sleep is associated with tissue repair and rejuvenation and this is where our body and mind get to recover.
Go to sleep early rather than late, sounds simple but many of us make the mistake of staying up late to fit in another episode of our favourite TV programme or to watch the end of a movie. We lose out on getting a sufficient amount of sleep where we should be looking to get close to the 8 hours.
We may also then struggle to get to sleep when we want to and for those that struggle with anxiety this is often the time that the mind goes into over drive.
Refrain from watching TV, being on social media or use of any other electronic devices the
hour before you want to be asleep. Another 5-10 minute mindfulness practice will get you started on your way.
Start reading, reading is a brilliant way to slow down our mind and helps to get us into a
relaxed state so we can actually fall asleep when we want too.
No caffeine after 6pm and for some this often needs to be earlier. Choose to drink a cup or
two of camomile tea in the pm as this also aids us getting a restful night’s sleep
Talking about your anxiety
When we keep worries to ourselves that cause us emotional difficulty of any kind, it then becomes a bigger issue in our minds.
Whether it’s talking to your friend, a family member, GP or a therapist, sharing how your struggle with anxiety can be a huge relief in itself. Sharing about your anxiety will also help you get some clarity around your anxiety and support you in working towards overcoming it.
Food and exercise
Both food and exercise are really important factors to look at. Through a healthy diet we can ensure that we are getting the sufficient nutrients we all need for our body’s to operate effectively. A poor diet leads to us lacking in these all-important nutrients and makes us vulnerable to many different health issues including anxiety.
Exercise is the king of natural remedies. Having exercise built into our day and week plays a vital role in aiding us to maintain a healthy state of mind and has clearly shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety amongst many other mental health issues.
Taking time to Relax
It’s really important that we take time to relax every day, this can be difficult for some so being disciplined around making the time is important, especially if this is something you struggle with. This can be walking, yoga, Pilates, mindfulness or other forms of meditation. It also could be meeting a friend for a chat, having a bath or watching your favourite TV programme.
Seeking Extra Support
For some people their anxiety can be so bad that’s it’s become too much to manage on their own. When this is the case seeking support from your GP, counsellor, psychotherapist or psychologist are good places to go for face to face contact to discuss and form a plan to support you moving forward. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) in particular has shown to help reduce and overcome
symptoms of anxiety.