Most people feel anxious from time to time. However, anxiety can become abnormal if it interferes with your everyday life which it did to me a few years ago. When my anxiety kicked in, I would feel fearful and tense and normally this would escalate into physical symptoms. My heart rate would increase, and begin thumping (palpitations), I felt sick, chest pains, experienced headache and rapid breathing…the list continues... Initially, I thought I was having a heart attack and I ended up taking myself to A&E MANY times! However, I gradually began to understand that these physical feelings were actually my anxiety and I needed to learn how to control it.
Here are a few things I used to practice to help me overcome my moments of extreme anxiety and moments of feeling incredibly low:
· A simple breathing exercise:
Sitting down, relax your body. Drop your shoulders and let your jaw relax. Now breathe in slowly through your nose and count to four, keep your shoulders down and allow your stomach to expand as you breathe in. Hold the breath for a moment. Now release your breath slowly out of your mouth and smoothly as you count to seven. Repeat for a couple of minutes.
· What we say to ourselves has an amazing impact on how we feel. Turn your negative thoughts into positive thoughts – it helps to write them down on paper. This can be very hard to do but the more you practise it, the more you will become aware of it and the easier it will become. Some examples: “I am wonderful just being me”, “It's an opportunity to learn something new”, “I am going to live today as if it’s my last”.
· Start speaking to yourself as you would to your best friends. What we say to ourselves has an amazing impact on how we feel and what we do. For example, telling yourself things like; “I’m so stupid for doing that”, “I’m so fat”, “I’m so useless” – is destructive and critical.
· Cut these words out of your vocabulary – “Cant”, “shouldn’t” and “not allowed” and replace with words like “I will” and “I can”.