The world may find itself in something that resembles the twilight zone recently, but that doesn't mean we all have to put up with the worst kinds of obsessive thought patterns that try to rob us of the very beauty of life. The tension between dark and light, good and evil, positive and negative, are part of reality and dealing with this truth is a huge step in the right direction. So, while we tackle this big task, let's arm ourselves with five ways to manage the anxiety we're all facing for a variety of different reasons.
No. 1 - Self compassion - This is so critical. First, notice and state, I am feeling some anxiety; Welcome the anxiety, don’t fight it. Say, “It’s ok for you to be here but you can’t control my life; Breathe - take slow deep breaths, feeling the motion as you take a slow deep inhale in and noticing the slow breath as you exhale. Count each breath up to 10 and then start again and count up to ten again. Repeat as few as 4 time and as many as 10 times; Notice what you are feeling. Maybe even write it down in that journal you bought on amazon because it had a great cover.
No 2. Process interrupt. This can work well with even severe anxiety. When you feel anxious, interrupt the process by getting your mind engaged in a left brain activity - counting backward from 100 to 0 by 3’s. The purpose of this tool is to interrupt the obsessive thinking or feeling spiral. You don’t have to stop the thinking and feeling that has hijacked you, instead you focus on non-emotional content. Above is one example but there are many options, write your grocery list, do calculations, think about a project that you want to do and write out the things you will need for the project. This is using procedural memory, the “How to” do something. It helps get us out of escalating emotions which is more active in the right hemisphere of our brain.
No 3. Take a walk, a power walk preferably. Swing your arms, breath in rhythm with your walking. There's many chemicals that get released in the body during movement and these chemicals are often lacking in our day to day lives. Bring them in like a flood to help that imbalance of chemicals and at the same time release toxins in your systems that need a reason to get out. Go head, get walkin'.
No 4. Funny but totally works. Try to yawn 10 times, even if some of them are fake yawns. Yes, this is weird but research shows the value of this practice. The increased oxygen to your brain allows for more blood flow in your body. The motion of yawning helps stretch the lungs and their tissues, and allows the body to flex its muscles and joints. Get circulation going, wake up a little after that 3 p.m. coffee crash. Plus it's a great practice to focus on instead of those pesky negative thoughts trying to boss you around. Quick
tip, maybe don't start this one three minutes in to your mid morning touch base zoom call with your boss and team members.
No 5. Nature and all it's glory. Go outside, yes, just go over to your front door and open it. Go outside and walk around your house, apartment, office, anything. A change in your surroundings can disrupt rising anxiety. You don't have to convince yourself to qualify for the next big 5K, just do the next right thing to change your space and practice being the master of your thinking!
Remember, you are not your feelings, though they are part of you don’t let them drive the bus of your life. Feelings do pass if we do not let them take over. The above list can help you keep anxiety out of the drivers seat of the bus of your life.
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