We all know anxiety in some way, yet, so many of us experience unhealthy levels of this emotion, potentially leading to associated and long-term health implications! So what’s to do to alleviate unhealthy anxiety?
Let’s get this ‘demon’ out of the way, right off the bat! Unlike depression* (a no less important illness), anxiety states can more readily lend themselves to exercise. We often ‘feel the need to let off steam! The form of exercise chosen is completely for us to decide. It certainly doesn’t need to be about setting immediate goals to complete a marathon or iron-man(woman) event! Cardio work, such as HITT training, jogging, cycling and swimming are all useful and equally so, are yoga and pilates (hard work done slowly!). My personal favourites are yoga and walking!
*Depression symptoms can also be significantly reduced with exercise.
Meditation or Mind-training
Regular readers will know that a cornerstone of my personal and professional practice is around maintaining my emotional and physical well-being via Mindfulness. It really can be life-altering! Slow things down and the world around us can quite suddenly return to a place of reality, rather than mistaken cognitive patterns formulated from less positive past experiences.
Moods and foods are known to strongly correlate with each other. If I consume healthy food and drinks more often, respecting my body, I feel better!
Rest and Relaxation (R&R)
Laugh, love, and engage in healthy hobbies or activities that make YOU happy. “Positive selfishness” may be necessary!
Being in close proximity to animals is a wonderful way to ‘ground’ ourselves and find compassion. (Preferably animals not intent on eating you!)
Counselling, Psychotherapy or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
These are known as Talking Therapies and can be useful when, despite own efforts, anxiety and unhelpful thoughts persist. These models are useful in the individual or group setting, where available. Many times, anxiety is present based on formative and perhaps less than optimal styles of parenting, or family situations over which we had no control, but became embedded as part of our sense of safety – and self. Trauma, emotional and or physical in those early years will also provide fertile ground for anxiety in later life.
Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
It is so easy to find ourselves engaging in the negativity of others. Growing awareness of whether this, and other behaviours nourish our sense of well-being and place in our world can help to inform just who you listen to, and engage with! Observe for those individuals who bring positivity to the table, and see how this can be available to us.
As with No 7, consider whether you are automatically following all the news, all of the time! So much of the ‘news’ content is negative and leads to us engaging in judgemental attitudes. It IS useful to know what is going on in the world, both locally and internationally, but 24/7?
When we are under sustained duress, as found with intrusive anxiety, it can be observed that we may look to try and offset the psychological and emotional turbulence via alcohol, drugs, gambling, infidelity or unhealthy diets.
Clearly, whilst some of these behaviours are undertaken with attempts at justification such as, “look, I’m tired, stressed and on edge, I just need to ‘treat myself”, they will only exacerbate the symptoms of imbalance. Try asking yourself, if you recognise these behaviours and ask, “What is my relationship to the behaviour?”. If I’m grabbing for a bottle of wine or a beer, is it purely recreational, or am I attempting to use ‘it’ as mechanism to ‘cope’?
Can the STRESS be Reduced?
A precursor to so many of us suffering with anxiety is when we are subjected to intense and consistent stress, loading pressures over and above any of the available resources we might have. We believe we ‘should’ cope, that we are smart and strong and …
If we can choose to acknowledge what we think is ‘hurting’ us, and find acceptance for what at this time has to remain unchallenged – and take action for that which we can change, life does come back into focus – and objectivity and clarity can once again lead us to a more balanced, reasoned view – with less emotion.
In the end analysis, the oft quoted (and one of my favourite) meme’s can help us worry less in the knowledge that whatever is lending itself to worry us… “This too will come to pass.”