10 ways to cope with anxious thoughts and feelings…
It’s normal to feel anxious when we’re in a scary or stressful situation. We all feel this way from time to time, but anxiety can become a problem if it starts to creep into your every-day life, more and more. Try these coping methods when you’re feeling particularly anxious or stressed:
Go for a walk in the sunshine – a change of scene and distance from your thoughts and feelings might be just what you need to clear your head. Listen to a meditation podcast or try a simple yoga exercise routine – focusing on your body and breathing can help to distract you from buzzing, negative thoughts and feelings.
- Question yourself
Is the thing you’re worrying about even true? Question is this fact or an opinion?Are you worrying about something that could be easily resolved? Challenge your own fears and thoughts and analyse the situation to take back control. Sometimes, our thoughts can run away with us or become distorted when we feel anxious and we start to imagine worst-case scenarios when really everything is perfectly fine. Stopping for a moment to pick apart these kinds of feelings can halt stressful thoughts in their tracks.
Focusing on your breathing really does help to calm and steady racing, stressful thoughts. When we become anxious the body enters fight or flight. This is the bodys natural response to a threatening or scary situation. It causes a series of events such as increased heart rate and shallow breathing. This is to prepare you to fight or run (flight). Whilst this is useful if we were under attack, it can feel scary and out of place if we are out shopping. Take slow, deep breaths, in and out, you can practice them daily. This calms the fight or flight response. Close your eyes to help you focus and imagine your worries seeping out of you as you exhale.
- Write it down
Jot down your worries on a piece of paper. Seeing your fears in black and white can help to make them less scary and makes it easier to put things in perspective.
- Use distraction techniques such as
Count to 10
Count to 10 in your head (or aloud) then count back down again. Do this as many times as you need to until you feel calmer. Some people recite the alphabet, a poem, or the lyrics to their favourite song – do what works for you.
Busy your hands
Do something practical with your hands. You could wash up dishes, pet a dog, doodle, sew, or fiddle with a fidget toy. Keeping your hands busy helps to create a calm mind.
Do something to distract yourself from anxious thoughts. Watch a bit of TV, read a book, paint your nails, or play a computer game. Focusing on something else entirely can help to take your mind off things and make you feel calm.
- 5-4-3-2-1 technique
Slow your breathing and try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. This exercise is designed to engage all five senses to help ground you when your anxiety is becoming overwhelming. Look around you and find:
- FIVE things you can see.
- FOUR things you can touch.
- THREE things you can hear.
- TWO things you can smell.
- ONE thing you can taste.
- Hold on tight
To someone or something. Wrap your arms around a weighted blanket or hold onto your partner’s hand. Sometimes, we just need a physical squeeze to comfort and ground us.
- Soothing scents
Calming scents like lavender and sandalwood can reduce stress and help you to relax. Pop a few drops of oil in a warm bath or apply a scented lotion to soothe your senses.
- Face your fears
Anxiety can be uncomfortable, and we can often find ourselves avoiding the very situations that leave us feeling anxious. This can lead to us avoiding our feelings and more and more situations, making it harder for us to do the things we once enjoyed. Face those fears slowly .It will feel uncomfortable, but gradually your body will adjust to the feelings and your anxiety will start to go down.
- Accept the feelings
Try to acknowledge and accept the feelings of anxiety. It’s a normal (yes uncomfortable) feeling that we all experience especially if we are facing something new or challenging. In the same way other emotions such as sadness or anger pass, so can anxiety. However, if this is affecting your everyday life do seek help. For more help and advice on anxiety, click here and discover our top five apps for anxiety here!