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Managing anxiety

For those who suffer with anxiety, it can be a daily struggle. There are hundreds of moments throughout the day when anxiety can creep in, and there’s often very little warning. Just as there is no typical anxiety sufferer, there is also no typical experience of anxiety; for some, anxiety is a constant, niggling worry at the back of the mind, for others, it is a near-constant series of panic attacks which can be triggered by even the slightest of stressful situations. One thing is common amongst all anxiety sufferers, however, and that is that anxiety is an ongoing battle for control over the mind. Luckily, there are a few simple daily habits which can help you to manage your anxiety and lessen the effects that it can have on your life – no matter what your anxiety looks like.

One of the most common triggers for anxiety sufferers is uncertainty. Whether it be doubt or insecurity about an upcoming change, or even a daily uneasiness around a perceived uncertainty, it can be a constant source of anxiety. The key difference between regular old stress and anxiety – is that anxiety is persistent, and often not based on a realistic understanding of the world around us. Embracing uncertainty involves assessing the real risks of the situation versus the likely risks, and then making small daily efforts to embrace uncertainty. Also identify your tendencies to catastrophise or think the worst of a situation, and perhaps your need to have complete control of your situation or environment.

For example, if you frequent the same coffee shop every day because it’s comfortable and you know what to expect, try visiting a different shop tomorrow for your lunch time coffee. When anxiety begins to arise, assure yourself that the perceived risks (that you might have to wait longer for your coffee, that you might feel slightly awkward until you understand their ordering process, or that the coffee might not be as good as you’re used to) are something that you can manage, and aren’t the end of the world. In fact, you might actually find yourself enjoying this new coffee shop and make it a part of your new routine!

These small, daily shake-ups to your regular routine will help you to embrace greater levels of uncertainty and give you the confidence that you will be able to handle whatever comes your way. It just takes commitment, persistence, and practice.

Of course, you’ll come across situations – be it facing uncertainty or facing a potential stressor – that you aren’t yet able to fully embrace and overcome at the time. Suffering with anxiety means being faced with a myriad of potential triggers. Developing a ‘coping toolbelt’ – a kit of tools at your disposal for when anxiety does raise its ugly head – can help you to quickly and effectively manage your anxiety. And the best part? The more you practice using your tools, the better you get at beating anxiety! Your toolbelt might include the following:

  • Knowing your triggers: Know what events or situations are likely to trigger your anxiety so that you can take action to avoid these or overcome them by assessing them in advance and reducing your levels of anxiety when they do occur.
  • 10 deep breaths: When you do find your heart rate increasing and anxiety beginning to rise, excuse yourself for a few moments and take ten deep breaths. It is amazing how effective this very simple tool can be for lowering the central nervous system and blood pressure, helping to clear the head and becomes more grounded, and assisting in assessing a situation more realistically.
  • EFT: Emotional Freedom Techniques or ‘EFT’ is a tool that uses the body’s energy system to relieve negative emotions which cause stress, anxiety and a range of other concerns. It involves holding the issue within one’s mental focus whilst simultaneously tapping the fingers on certain points of the body, and can be done almost anywhere, at any time. Read more about EFT here.
  • Hypnotherapy: The benefits of Hypnotherapy in overcoming anxiety can be felt long after your session with a qualified hypnotherapist is completed. Hypnotherapy helps to reprogram the subconscious mind to eliminate negative behaviours and reactions which are causing you distress.
  • Mindfulness can be an incredibly effective tool for those experiencing anxiety. Mindfulness helps us to focus on the present moment rather than getting caught up in past or future events, such as worrying about the future or reliving past trauma or stresses. It has a calming effect and with practice, can begin to change our outlook on the world.
  • EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a therapeutic technique which was designed to help trauma survivors with reprogramming their brains’ reactions to triggering scenarios. EMDR can also be incredibly helpful for anxiety sufferers, in helping to recondition the brain’s response to anxiety-inducing sights, sounds, thoughts and events. For more information, read our recent blog on EMDR and mindfulness.

We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but it’s also incredibly beneficial to our minds! Not only does exercise help our bodies to function better, it helps us to sleep better (giving the brain a chance to properly decompress after each day), and the good hormones released during exercise help to combat anxiety. Any amount of physical activity, such as going for a walk during your lunch break, or even doing some HIIT (high intensity interval training) with your personal trainer, can have an immediate positive effect on your mental state. Try incorporating HIIT (read our article about the benefits of HIIT and how it’s helping millions) into your weekly routine, or simply add in a walk or run to the end of your day to help you destress and clear your head. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there is no typical way to experience anxiety. Your experience is unique to you, and so, your strategies for managing and overcoming anxiety will also be unique. Incorporating effective daily habits will help you to manage your anxiety and reduce the effects that it has on you, but its important to know that there is always help available – and that you don’t need to figure it all out on your own! At Integrated Health Specialists, we have a range of proven, effective services to help you manage your anxiety. From psychology and counselling, to EMDR, hypnotherapy, EFT, and more. Get in touch today to find the right type of therapy for you, and don’t let your anxiety rule your life any longer.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen