Our Blog

Anxiety- Ready or not here I come

by | Anxiety

Do you remember playing hide and seek as a kid? Someone starts to count down and the hunt for the perfect hiding place begins. As the counting continues, you must be hidden by the time the other player comes to find you. What if your hiding spot is not good enough? Specifically, the game can make your heart pound and give you a rush of adrenaline which mimics the anxiety we have every day.

Whether you realized it or not, starting in childhood, things like anxiety can start with a simple game of hide and seek. The panic of needing to find the perfect spot so that you don’t get caught too fast by the seeker. The worry of when you will be found, or what if you are never found? Will I get lonely here?  You are only a kid but find the game both fun and scary. We may not have realized it as child, but anxiety was already showing itself, and anxiety does not hide for too long.

OVERWHELMED AND OVERTHINKING

As we become adults, the presence of anxiety can be overwhelming in our lives. In other words, we do not have the courtesy of a countdown to take cover, it’s just there… ALL. THE. TIME. It is telling us we are not enough, we are never enough. It removes us from our lives, giving us endless to do lists in our heads. You can never really accomplish these tasks because once something is done you have 100 more tasks after it. Consequently, you are running and running but getting nowhere. It can feel frustrating, overwhelming and heavy.

First, let’s try to understand why we feel so much anxiety.

Why we worry so much?

Anxiety arises from the flight-or-fight response to threats in our lives. These threats can come in the form of a bad boss at work, being a stressed-out parent, illness, or even the good kind of stress such as falling in love.

Furthermore, the good stuff can also be scary because what if we lose it? We see a threat in our lives and we try to protect ourselves. Our minds are always coming up with solutions of how we will protect ourselves or “fix” problems. This can cause us to overthink and even carry substantial pain in our bodies.

PULL FROM YOUR STRENGTHS

So how can we find a safe space to go when our brain is on overdrive?

We all have strengths we can pull from. Think back to a time where you were successful in reducing your anxiety. What were you doing? How did your social circle help or not help? What comforts you? What activities can help you take a break from your thoughts in a healthy way? Take some time to explore your strengths and write them down. You DO have strengths!

FIND YOUR TRIGGERS

In addition to finding things that have helped you in the past, look at what has been unhelpful. Maybe after that 3rd cup of coffee you find your anxiety creep up. Actions like limiting alcohol and caffeine can be helpful because these substances can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. Or maybe calling certain family or friends doesn’t help calm you down but only gives you more to worry about. Find what your triggers can be, whether it is low blood sugar or a toxic person in your life. Write your triggers down and start to plan for the best ways to avoid them when you can. What can you get more help with?

THE MIND

Have you ever tried to play hide and seek alone? Seems impossible right? It can also feel impossible to change how we think and to control our thoughts.

Consequently, it may feel daunting to change the way we think by using our mind to combat anxiety. We can help control our minds by creating mantras, or positive statements, that we say to ourselves when we see negative thoughts coming in. An example of a mantra would be “I AM” statements. List all the things you aspire to be. Below is an example list to help you get started.

“I am calm”

“I am loved”

“I am abundant”

“I am grateful”

“I am connected”

THE BODY

In the words of Taylor Swift…  “shake it off.” Our body often uses our anxiety to create tension that builds up in our bodies. So how do we get rid of this excess stress? First, start with a quick body scan. Next, begin from the top of your body and go down, can you can tense up your face and then let the tension go, tense up your shoulders and let them go, and so on. Move all the way down to your toes letting most of your body parts tense up and then letting the tension go. This is a good way to start to evaluate how much stress and anxiety you are holding in your body.

THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION

Just as the game of hide and seek is beautifully simple, so is taking a breath. The breath is the bridge to the mind-body connection. Therefore, it is the starting point to reducing anxiety and feeling safe. Try to take a 90 second break and breathe deeply, fill your belly up with breath – take it in for five seconds and out for five seconds and see if you feel a little better afterwards. As you breathe in you can think of words like “peace,” and as you breathe out you can think of words like “love.” Do you feel safer, more relaxed and connected?

THE GOOD NEWS

Here is the good news – anxiety is not all bad! We NEED some anxiety in our lives because it helps keep us safe; some threats are real. Change is always present, and the goal is to be able to move through change in the healthiest way we can so that anxiety does not get out of control. So, give thanks for your anxiety and tell it to not hide too much because it is needed at manageable levels. Moreover, if you are getting to the point where it is unmanageable, it’s okay to ask for help, seek counseling, or take time to plan for ways to reduce your anxiety.

Ready or not, I am going to count down from 10 to the top things you can do to help your anxiety:

Take 10 with your 5 senses

When you are fixated on a problem that you can’t stop thinking about, take a 10-minute break to reset and come to the present. The best thing to do is use your five senses to get into the present moment.

  • LOOK– Look around the room and notice what you see. What colors and patterns do you see?
  • SMELL – Find something in your space like scented lotion or a flower that smells pleasant. Notice the way it smells and see where it takes your mind and body.
  • FEEL – Touch different textures and notice how they feel on your skin to connect to the present moment. Go for a walk, notice how you body feels with the brisk movement.
  • HEAR – Listen to your favorite song, podcast, or simply listen to the sounds that are around you in the space you are in.
  • TASTE- Enjoy a food break and eat each bite slowly. Truly taste the texture of the food. Enjoy tasting the different flavors.

 

Limit your triggers

Are you in a bad mood if you go too long without eating, or if you talk to a co-worker you don’t like? There are times when you cannot avoid things that put you over the edge but knowing what your triggers are and trying to minimize them with a proper plan will go a long way.

Get enough sleep

We all stay up too late sometimes or find ourselves looking at our phones right before bed. If this is happening all the time and you find you are in a bad mood because of your lack of sleep, it may be time to change your routine.

Move your body

Find a way that you like to move. You don’t have to call it exercise if that sounds like a punishment. Maybe just put on your favorite song and dance a little or go for a family walk to connect and move.

Take deep breaths

Go back to the basics and breathe when you are feeling out of control with worry. Deep breaths turn on the parasympathetic nervous system which helps create a sense of calming.

Laugh

What makes you laugh? Is it a funny cat video or your favorite comedy TV show? Invite more laughter into your life.

Find your self-compassion

No one that I know is perfect, so cut yourself a break and forgive yourself for mistakes you make along the way. Use mistakes as learning tools instead.

Find the evidence

Having major anxiety over an upcoming flight? Research how safe flying really is and see if the evidence helps you feel better.

Don’t take yourself so seriously

Be silly with your kids, friends, and family. Let go of your worries of what people will think of you and just be goofy sometimes! It feels good to let go around people you feel safe with.

Think about what you enjoyed a kid

What made you happy as a kid? Did you like to draw or play games like hide and seek? Maybe invite some of those activities back in your life by getting an adult coloring book or buying a new game.

Check us out at Turning Stone Counseling for more information!