In today’s ever-busy, always-working, rise-and-grind #hustleculture, all people are inevitably wired for anxiety.
The current demands of life are no joke, whether you’re a successful CEO, a data analyst, a yoga instructor, or a paycheck-to-paycheck post-grad trying to figure out what to do next.
Anxiety is something everyone faces from time to time, and while we can’t control how our bodies respond, there are a few things we can do to convince our brain that everything’s gonna be alright. So, in the event your worries ever escalate into anxious thoughts, here are some ideas of what to do:
Name the thought.
For many people, just naming and normalizing what’s happening inside their minds—knowing that the thoughts are not indications that there’s something wrong with them but are actually coming in the service of health and healing—is half the battle toward recovery.
When you name the thought, you’re already defusing it, because naming it requires that you’re witnessing it. This one small action is how you begin to widen the gap between stimulus and response.
Expose the lie.
If you believe the thought is true, you will go down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression. If you can say, “This is my familiar intrusive thought, and even if I think it’s true, I know it’s not true,” you will take an essential step toward defusing your attachment to it.
Sit with the underlying feeling.
Once you get used to items 1 and 2, you will be left with what the thought is covering up: a sense of inadequacy, insecurity, vulnerability, sadness, groundlessness of the human experience.
Breathe into those feelings and remind yourself that being human—with all of its vulnerability—isn’t something that you can get over. It can’t be fixed. The best we can do is be with ourselves with love and compassion. And in that loving, we find freedom.
Recognize that it’s a completely normal feeling.
Feeling anxious about our life and what’s happening in it is completely normal. What you need to recognize is that every human being has this same fear at some point in their lives (sometimes at many points in their lives, in fact) and that it’s a completely valid fear to have.
Write down honest, rational thoughts.
While this might sound like a great piece of advice for how we should generally act in life, being honest with yourself is an important life-hack to combat feelings of anxiety. A lot of our anxiety stems from our brains repeating those irrational negative thoughts. While it’s unrealistic to switch our mindsets to only think positively, you should try to think as rationally as possible.
One way to do this is by completing a small writing exercise. Whenever you feel sad, mad, anxious, or out of control, write down what you’re thinking and just ask yourself whether or not it’s true. Learning how to talk back to your own thoughts is really helpful. By talking (or rather, writing) back to your own thoughts, you can start to take control of your mind.
Slow down with diaphragmatic breathing.
Diaphragmatic breathing, a type of deep breathing, is characterized by contracting the diaphragm rather than expanding the chest. This breathing practice is especially effective in treating anxiety. It goes like this: three seconds in, six seconds out.
While it might sound simple, this easy inhale-exhale practice can reduce anxiety levels.
Take a rest.
One of the best preventive measures for anxiety attacks is to prioritize rest and get a good night’s sleep. Not sleeping enough alters the function of the thyroid, adrenals, liver, and gut, and can worsen anxiety.
Increase your support system and improve your communication with your loved ones.
Rebuilding this real connection to those around you starts at home. Be intentional about putting your devices away so you can be present with your family. And then take the time to see your friends in person—instead of just chatting over social media.
Try talk therapy or life-coaching.
Sometimes, we need the help of someone who is actually trained to listen to us and identify powerful opportunities for us to grow. The goal of working with this person is for them to be able to identify when your thought processes are cutting you off at the knees and thus worsening the anxiety.
Their role is to offer up a different perspective or approach that invites you to respond more proactively and powerfully to whatever situation you’re in.
Have other tips on how to manage anxiety? Share them with us in the comments section!