Anxiety is a normal part of life, but when it becomes overwhelming and disruptive, it can be difficult to find a way to cope. Fortunately, there are mindful strategies that can help you reclaim your inner peace and reduce anxious thoughts. From deep breathing to positive self-talk, these ten strategies can help you take control of your anxiety and lead a calmer, more balanced life. By dedicating time to your mental health and using the strategies outlined here, you can learn to manage your anxiety and move towards a life of greater peace and joy.
Notice That Your Anxiety
When we’re anxious, we often find ourselves thinking about the things that make us anxious and it’s usually something in the future, or past, that we can’t control. This is a natural part of the anxiety process. The very act of becoming aware of your anxiety brings you into the present moment and shifts your attention. Just by noticing, which is different than knowing, you can interrupt the negative cycle of anxiety and start to gain more insight into what is triggering you.
When you feel your anxiety taking over, you can use grounding as a way to return to the present moment and bring yourself back to a state of calm. The technique of grounding can be done anywhere and involves four steps:
1) Focus on your breath and bring your attention to your breath as it enters and leaves your body.
2) Bring your attention to your feet and imagine roots growing from your feet down into the earth. Imagine that your roots are growing down into the ground, going deeper and deeper until they reach the center of the earth.
3) Bring your attention back up to the surface of the earth and feel the energy of the ground flowing up through your roots and into your body and up through the top of your head.
4) Bring your attention back to your breath and notice how you feel now that you’re grounded. Grounding may feel silly at first, but it is a very effective way to bring yourself back to the present moment and interrupt a stressful cycle.
When we’re anxious, we often identify strongly with our anxious thoughts and feelings. Separating yourself from your thoughts and feelings is a helpful way to become less entangled in your anxious feelings. You can practice this technique by putting a distance between yourself and your anxious thoughts and feelings. Here are my 2 favorite ways to do this:
1) You can do this by imagining that you’re watching yourself from above, that you’re outside your own body, or that you’re looking at yourself from a distance.
2) You can close your eyes and put a boundary between you and your anxiety. You can visualize an ocean, a glass barrier or anything that helps you feel that separation. This can be especially helpful in situations where you feel like your anxiety is taking over and you want to regain your sense of control.
Ask Your Anxiety Questions
Anxiety often stems from not knowing what triggered it or what the source of it is. Anxiety can also be caused by a lack of understanding of your emotions and what they mean. By asking your anxiety questions, you can hopefully identify the source of your anxiety and work towards a more peaceful state.
While this can be more difficult if you have generalized anxiety disorder, it can be helpful if you can identify the cause of your anxiety and work towards calming it. The questions you ask yourself can vary, but some examples might include: What am I anxious about? What are my feelings? What are my emotions trying to tell me? What is this situation triggering in me? What is happening in my body right now? What is the cause of my anxiety? By asking questions like these, you may be able to pinpoint the source of your anxiety and find a way to calm it.
Notice Where You’re Creating Friction
Anxiety often involves worrying about the future or ruminating on the past. For people who experience anxiety symptoms, they often try to make their anxiety better by shoving it down or shaming themselves for having anxiety. Although this might seem like the best thing to tame your anxious brain, it actually makes it worse.
Imagine telling a crying kiddo to “shut-up” or “just act normal”. You and I both know that would only make it worse. It’s like trying to beat yourself better. It’ll never work. Instead, turning towards you anxiety, like you might turn towards a child, and welcome it with open arms. This might sound counterintuitive, but if you think about it, it’s really a way of loving yourself. And I promise, you’ll never go wrong with more love.
Noticing where you’re creating friction in your life and then finding positive ways to move past that, can reduce your anxiety and help you find more inner peace.
Nurture Your Anxiety
When we’re anxious, we often try to push it away and ignore our feelings. However, there is a way to practice with your anxiety and allow it to be present in your life. You can do this by bringing your attention to your anxiety and allowing it to be there. This can be hard, but it’s an important part of dealing with your anxiety and finding ways to reduce it.
Bringing your attention to your anxiety also allows you to sit with it and nurture it. Imagine that same child we referenced above and think about what works. With an anxious child, you soothe, nurture and use your body to help regulate their body. You can use these same practices with yourself.
Find the Breath Connector
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you may have noticed that you have a difficult time calming your mind. You may have also tried other strategies, such as counting your breaths or using mindfulness, but found that they don’t help much.
Here’s a breathing exercise you might not have tried. Breathe in and find that spot where your in-breath connected with your out-breath. Just stop, for one moment, and be that place between the in-breath and the out-breath. This can help calm your nervous system and make your mind more settled.
Check Your Vibration
Another way to work with your anxiety is to notice the vibration that a certain thought brings. Say the anxious thought out loud. Notice what happens to your body as you say it. Notice what happens to your energy. How are talking? How are you being?
Now, try a different thought and check your vibration. Notice the shifts, if any, in your body and your thoughts. Be aware of how this thought feels. If it feels good, stay there as long as you can. Return as often as you can.
Journal and Reflect
Journaling is a great way to gain insight and have awareness about your anxious thoughts and feelings. You may notice patterns in your anxious thoughts or see connections between your anxious thoughts and other areas of your life. This can be a helpful way to take a step back from your anxiety and gain insight into it.
Journaling can also be a helpful tool for processing your emotions, whether they be positive or negative. It can be cathartic to write down your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, giving them a space to be expressed. This can be helpful in moving towards more inner peace and becoming less entangled in your anxious thoughts and feelings.
When we’re anxious, it can be helpful to remember that anxiety is a normal part of life and that many other people experience it as well. Having compassion for yourself and others can be a helpful tool for moving towards a calmer state. Having compassion for your anxiety can help you move away from negative thoughts and towards a more balanced state.
Anxiety can be a difficult part of life, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or debilitating. There are many ways to deal with anxiety, such as being present, connecting with your emotions, and having compassion. If you struggle with anxiety, don’t be ashamed or embarrassed; it’s simply an emotion that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Remember that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and there are many ways to combat it. With these techniques, you can overcome your anxiety and live a happier, more fulfilled life.
Knot Counseling specializes in anxiety therapy. Our therapists are trained to help guide you and your anxious brain in a way that releases the burdens that anxiety brings.