Anxiety is a feeling we experience when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about something that is about to happen, or that we think could happen in the future.
Anxiety is something everyone feels at times, and all kinds of stressful situations can be a part of daily life. They can range from being stopped at a red light when you’re running late for work to full blown financial worries or health concerns, and everything in between. What worries one person, will not necessarily worry the next person as anxiety triggers are different for everyone.
Low-level anxiety and stress are not always negative, they can even be helpful and motivate us to meet deadlines and help us to avoid dangerous situations.
The good news is that once we have identified our triggers, there are plenty of things we can do to help cope with stressful and anxious events.
Identify Your Triggers
What is triggering your anxiety right now? Try to be as specific as you can by thinking about your whole life: home, family, relationships, work, financial, health and major life events. List your worries and think about each one individually. How significant are they? Score each worry out of 10, with 0 being small and 10 being very worrying. Once you have identified your significant triggers, ask yourself what is the ideal outcome? What steps can you take to work towards your ideal outcome and who can you ask for help? Commit to taking back control where you can, and you will get a real sense of achievement.
Accept What is Outside of Your Control
Changing a difficult situation is not always possible, however, you may still have influence over it. Recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on all that you do have control over. You can download my FREE worksheet “Circle of Concern, Control and Influence” here.
Learn to Say No
We can cause ourselves a great deal of anxiety and stress because we do not want to let people down and often find it hard to say no. We can sometimes end up doing or committing to more than we should. Try and be assertive so that you can say ‘No’ without feeling guilty yourself, or upsetting or offending others.
Look After Yourself
Being active can help us burn off nervous energy. Try and spend time in nature if you can as trees and water can be incredibly grounding. It will not make your stress and worry disappear totally, but it can make it less intense. If we eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly and ensure we get plenty of sleep, our bodies are far better able to cope with stress and worry.
Alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes and excessive sugar can all increase anxiety, so are best avoided or limited.
Prioritising relaxation also helps your body return to its normal healthy state. You will be far more effective if you regularly take short breaks. Good relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, walking and yoga.
Talk to Someone and Have a Laugh
Friends, family and colleagues can often help us when we are struggling. Surrounding ourselves with positive and trusted friends can help us see things from a new perspective. Laughter also boosts the immune system which is often depleted during times of anxiety and stress, so if no one is available right now, watch a comedy or a funny movie and laugh out loud!
Effective Time Management
It may be helpful to learn how to manage your time more effectively. We can waste a lot of time doing unimportant or non-urgent tasks, especially when we are stressed, so prioritising our day and doing the important and urgent jobs first can save us time and anxiety in the long run.
There's an old saying that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that it's probably the worst thing you'll do all day. So, if you can prioritise the most challenging task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on, then you will free up valuable worry time. Brian Tracy explains how to do this in his bestselling book “Eat that Frog” (available on Amazon).
Question Your Thoughts and Allow Yourself Some Positivity
The way we think affects the way we feel. If you catch yourself having unhelpful thoughts, ask yourself what evidence do you have that it is true. We often catastrophise or think we can predict the outcome of a future event. This causes unnecessary anxiety. When the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a test to see what percentage of worries did not come true, the results were a shocking 91.4%. This is further summed up by one of my favourite quotes:
"My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened."
Take time to think about the good things in your life. At the end of each day, consider what went well and try to list 3 things you're thankful for.
If anxiety is something you or your loved ones struggle with regularly, then please get in touch to discuss how I can help you. You can book a FREE 45 minute discovery call here