Sisters For Sunshine

Receive God's Warm Love Through Reflection

Ways To Beat Anxiety

on May 11, 2017

I am currently reading The Anxiety Toolkit, which is a great resource on dealing with and overcoming your anxiety. I’ve only read the first part of the book, but there are a lot of insightful advice about overcoming anxiety.

Author Alice Boyes describes three main components to overcoming anxiety: 1. “Self knowledge about the thinking and behavorial patterns that have caused your anxiety”, 2. Building “resiliency”, that is building up the strengths and tools for coping with challenges, 3. Self confidence in yourself.

The author of The Anxiety Toolkit wrote this article on ways to beat anxiety, and I thought to share.

  1. Take a slow breath. Continue slow breathing for 3 minutes.  – I like to breath in for a count of four, hold for seven, then breath out for a count of 8.
  2. Drop your shoulders and do a gentle neck roll.
  3. State the emotions you’re feeling as words, e.g., “I feel angry and worried right now.” (Aloud but to yourself.) – I try to think positive emotions in my head to counter the negative and make me feel calmer.
  4. Massage your hand, which will activate oxytocin.
  5. Put something that’s out of place in its place. (Physical order often helps us feel a sense of mental order.)
  6. Take a day trip somewhere with natural beauty. – I find that getting out of the house and in sunshine really helps my mood.
  7. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Then, ask yourself, “How would I cope if that happened?” Now answer those questions.
  8. Take a break from actively working on solving a problem and allow your mind to keep processing the problem in the background.
  9. Take a bath. – I like using Epsom salts in a foot bath each evening.
  10. Forgive yourself for not foreseeing a problem that occurred. – This is hard for me. I’m often too hard on myself. I need to focus on letting go, having peace of mind, and being kinder and more patient with myself.
  11. Throw out something from your bathroom. (The order principle again.)
  12. Take a break from watching the news or reading newspapers.
  13. Make a phone call you’ve been putting off. – For me, making phone calls is something that actually makes me anxious. So do what you think is best.
  14. Write an email you’ve been putting off. – I find that writing my thoughts down, typing them, even making these blog posts, really helps my mood.
  15. Take another type of action on something you’ve been putting off.
  16. Throw something out of your fridge.
  17. Try a guided mindfulness meditation. (Google for free mp3 downloads. There are some good ones out there.)
  18. Take a break from researching a topic you’ve been over-researching.
  19. Cuddle a baby or a pet. – Hugging really makes me feel calmer and more peaceful.
  20. If a mistake you’ve made is bothering you, make an action plan for how you won’t repeat it in the future. Write three brief bullet points.
  21. Ask yourself if you’re jumping to conclusions? For example, if you’re worried someone is very annoyed with you, do you know for sure this is the case or are you jumping to conclusions? – I often jump to conclusions regarding what other people think of me; I’m working at focusing on something that I like about myself that people WILL notice versus if they might be thinking badly of me.
  22. Ask yourself if you’re catastrophizing, i.e.,  thinking that something would be a disaster, when it might be unpleasant but not necessarily a disaster.
  23. Forgive yourself for not handing a situation in an ideal way, including interpersonal situations. What’s the best thing you can do to move forward in a positive way now? – Again, try not to be so hard on yourself, and think positively about conquering the situation next time.
  24. If someone else’s behavior has triggered anxiety for you, try accepting that you may never know the complete reason and background behind the person’s behavior.
  25. Recognize if your anxiety is being caused by someone suggesting a change or change of plans. Understand if you tend to react to changes or unexpected events as if they are threats.
  26. Accept that there is a gap between your real self and your ideal self. (This is the case for pretty much everybody.)
  27. Question your social comparisons. For example, is comparing yourself only to the most successful person you know very fair or representative? – I find myself comparing to others, feeling confused as to why others can cope but I can’t. I need to accept who I am and look at being stronger.
  28. Think about what’s going right in your life. Thinking about the positive doesn’t always work when you’re anxious, but it can do if anxiety has caused your thinking to become lopsided and you’re not seeing the big picture. – When I’m feeling bad, I immediately go through the alphabet and recall positive words that make me feel calmer and happier.
  29. Scratch something off your to-do list for the day, either by getting it done or just deciding not to do that task today. – Writing down a to-do list really clears my mind, and then I am able to focus on what’s important to do first.
  30. Ask a friend or colleague to tell you about something they’ve felt nervous about in the past, and to tell you what happened.
  31. If you’re nervous about an upcoming test, try these quick tips for dealing with test anxiety.
  32. Do a task 25% more slowly than usual. Allow yourself to savor not rushing.
  33. Check if you’re falling into any of these thinking traps.
  34. Try gentle distraction; find something you want to pay attention to. The key to successful use of distraction when you’re anxious is to be patient with yourself if you find you’re still getting some thought intrusions about the anxiety-provoking topic. – Great advice for getting rid of those negative feelings! When I feel anxiety coming on strongly, I force myself to focus on a photo of my dog or a memory of being with my family on a vacation. Make me focus on the good in my life.
  35. Go to a yoga class, or do a couple of yoga poses in the comfort of your home or office.
  36. Get a second opinion from someone you trust. Aim to get their real opinion rather than just reassurance seeking.
  37. Allow yourself to do things you enjoy or that don’t stress you out, while you’re waiting for your anxious feelings to naturally calm down. – I’ll go read something positive, watch Ellen or something that makes me smile, or walk outside in the sunshine.
  38. Go for a run. – Exercise in general really helps my mood. Going outside and exercising is even better!
  39. Find something on YouTube that makes you laugh out loud. – I love watching Ellen or The Tonight Show video clips on YouTube!
  40. Lightly run one or two fingers over your lips. This will stimulate the parasympathetic fibers in your lips and you’ll feel calmer.
  41. Look back on the anxiety-provoking situation you’re in from a time point in the future, e.g., six months from now. Does the problem seem smaller when you view it from further away?
  42. Imagine how you’d cope if your “worst nightmare” happened, e.g., your partner left you, you got fired, or you developed a health problem. What practical steps would you take? What social support would you use? Mentally confronting your worst fear can be very useful for reducing anxiety.
  43. Call or email a friend you haven’t talked to in awhile.
  44. If you’re imagining a negative outcome to something you’re considering doing, also try imaging a positive outcome.
  45. If you rarely back out of commitments and feel overwhelmed by your to-do list, try giving yourself permission to say you can no longer do something you’ve previously agreed to do.
  46. Do any two-minute jobs that have been hanging around on your to-do list. It’ll help clear your mental space. – Very true! When I have something that I don’t like doing on my to-do list, even if it takes only a couple minutes, I have to remind myself that I CAN get them done really quickly, and then once I do them and finish them in just 5 minutes, I feel so much better.
  47. Jot down three things you worried about in the past that didn’t come to pass.
  48. Jot down three things you worried about in the past that did occur, but weren’t nearly as bad as you imagined.
  49. Do a form of exercise you haven’t done in the last six months. – Exercise has been such a wonderful outlet for me to clear my mind and improve my mood. I love FitnessBlender videos.
  50. Allow time to pass. Often the best thing to do to reduce anxiety is just to allow time to pass, without doing the types of activities that increase anxiety.



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