There’s an old adage that says anxiety is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but gets you nowhere. If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety then you’ll know just how much time it can take up worrying about things that may never happen. Anxiety can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally, even though it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly what triggered your anxiety in the first place.
Physically, anxiety can cause feelings of panic, such as a tight chest, shortness of breath, dizziness and a racing heart. Mentally, anxious thinking can lead you down the road to worst-case outcomes as you worry and fret and agonise over what might happen. Emotionally, it can feel as though you’ve become paralysed with fear, unable to act and feeling trapped, and with an underlying sense of unease.
Physiologically, anxiety comes from the ‘fight or flight’ response that releases adrenaline into our system in the face of a potential threat. Everyday ‘threats’ can be job interviews, having to perform or speak in public, or having an argument with a loved one. The adrenaline gives an extra boost when needed. But with people with anxiety, the ‘fight or flight’ response can be triggered even when the threat is tiny or imagined.
Anxiety is indiscriminate in who it affects: young, old, rich, poor, men, women, and even famous people who suffer the scrutiny of being in the spotlight. However, anxiety can be managed. Here are some tips gained from years of offering psychotherapy to people with anxiety.
How to calm your anxiety
Stay in the moment. Don’t project your thoughts and fears into the future. Concentrate on being fully present now. Keep everything you need to do for the day in the day. Think about tomorrow when tomorrow comes.
Let go of what you can’t control. Anxiety is often about control. You may feel out of control because of your projections into the future. You may find yourself trying to control everything in order to live your projection, rather than letting go of what you can’t control.
Trust yourself more. Anxiety can make you overthink and fret and ruminate over decisions you’ve made in case they weren’t the ‘right’ ones. Go with what feels right to you and let other options go.
Set realistic expectations. Ever given yourself an impossibly long and complex to-do list, only to find yourself anxious and stressed and berating yourself for not being able to cross everything off your list? This is guaranteed to stoke your anxiety. Keep your diary up to date and be realistic with your work and
personal commitments. Otherwise you can become overwhelmed with filling the
Embrace the unknown. OK, this is extremely difficult if you suffer from anxiety because not knowing what’s going to happen – and the anticipation of something bad happening – can be far worse than knowing what’s around the corner. You can’t foresee everything, so keep your focus on what’s happening right now in front of you rather than fretting over what might be coming over the horizon. Accept what will be will be, and make the most of now. No rocking chair required.
If anxiety is overwhelming you and you need some support then speaking to a therapist could help. Call our team on 020 8673 4545 or email [email protected] to book an appointment.
I have had a lot of anxiety problems since I was a little kid. I can keep it in control most of the time. However, when I am going through a big life change, it comes back in full force. I am about to get married soon and I am starting to get random anxieties about silly things. So, I like that you talked about how you need to let go of things you can’t control.
It sounds as though you have developed some coping strategies for your anxiety that have worked well you – but these can be tested by major life events that give you many more things to worry about. Learning to let go of what you can’t control may be an important next step for you. Good luck with all the wedding plans. Best wishes, Michaela
I have to stay conscious and reassure myself constantly that everything is going to be OK! I am loved and lovable and give way too much. Reading about grooming and I grooming helps to educate yourself to be more aware of alternate resources. I study when I get triggered. Listen to love songs, do something physical to ground the broken little one inside. Raise Seritonin
Hi there, thank you so much for taking the time to comment on our blog post and for sharing your coping mechanisms with us.
I really like the suggestion to embrace the unknown. As someone who is about to embark on a whole new chapter of his life, this is something I really feel like I needed to hear right now. I can’t control everything, I need to trust myself more, and I need to realize that worrying about the future is generally much worse than actually living it. Thanks for sharing.
Good luck with your new chapter
All the best Michaela
I think it’s a great idea to trust yourself more, and go with what feels right. A few of my old friends suffered from major anxiety, and they never really went with what felt right. It’s great that there are ways to help you overcome this.
Hello Gregory. Thanks for your comments. When we lose touch with our gut instinct, and what feels truly right for us, it’s like losing a compass to navigate us. We then end up lost and anxious. Trusting yourself can help you navigate the unknowns and avoid anxiety along the way. Best wishes, Michaela