What to Do If You Experience Anxiety

When you experience anxiety, you feel out of control. You’re in fight-or-flight mode and life feels overwhelming. I know because I experience anxiety myself. It’s not a nice place to be in.

Anxiety is often about the future, and the lack of control we have over a situation. We fear something that could happen, or not happen. When we don’t feel we have control of a situation, we panic.

Anxious feelings can build when there is too much going on in our lives. We all have our list of things to do, people to care for and feed, deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, bills to pay, children’s activities to dash to on weekday afternoons and weekends, and so on.

We also have all the digital noise of emails to check and send, incoming notifications and alerts to glance at, social media posts to do, articles we feel we must read and news to catch up.

Breathe.

The more there is to look after, the more there is to worry about.

When we feel things are getting on top of us, we fret. We can also struggle to make decisions. Indecision further exacerbates anxiety. When we feel anxious we feel a desperate need to escape in one way or another. It’s where a lot of addictive behaviour stems from.

There is no ridding anxiety from our lives as such, but there are ways to tame the severity.

What can you choose to simplify or let go of?

The chaos of daily life is hard to avoid. We all have responsibilities. While we can’t choose some things in our life, we can choose (or not choose) others.

We can’t choose whether to feed our children or not, but we can choose how simple a meal we do prepare, and teach children from a young age (in a gentle encouraging way) to become self-sufficient.

We may not be able to say no to attending back-to-back meetings, but we can choose to practise clearing our mind so we don’t take work home with us. Or excuse ourselves briefly and go somewhere quiet in the office to take a breath.

Updating our social media account might be necessary for our business, but we can choose not to look at the platform once we share a post.

Life is loud and fast, but we can slow the pace of it down by making choices to do so.

When we are overwhelmed and anxious, we don’t think clearly and we aren’t very productive. We can often reduce the intensity of anxiety by practising self-care. By making choices and taking action in small ways to reduce the noise and chaos in our lives.

Slow down

One of the things they suggest when dealing with anxiety is to slow your movements down. Physically slowing down the way you walk through a room or move your hands, calms your body and mind.

When I did acting classes recently we practised Tai Chi before each session. The instructor said it’s a really good thing for actors to do before performing because it calms the nerves.

Mindfulness also helps us simplify and slow down. Rather than multitasking, focusing on one activity at a time and paying attention using our senses allows us to slow down.

The choice to slow and simplify various elements of our life is something each of us can do. But it is something we must be willing to do. It’s easy to make excuses. We all do, myself included. And we often think that those around us aren’t as busy or struggling as we are.

“I have no option but to think of work when I’m at home — my career/business depends on it.”

“The kids need to do multiple activities a week or they won’t succeed.”

“I’ll fail the exam if I don’t pull an all-nighter.”

“I can’t afford to take a sick day, I need the money.”

Chances are we would all feel calmer within (kids included) if life was a little slower and simpler. If we gave our minds a chance to clear and our bodies a chance to rest when needed. We often fill our lives with so much that we are scrambling to keep up. We push ourselves for too long and burn out.

It’s okay to slow down. All will not fall apart if we allow ourselves time to breathe once in a while.

  • Turn off unnecessary notifications on your phone or email subscriptions
  • Read the news once and leave it for the next day
  • Choose one activity for each child, focus on it for a while and try another the next semester/year
  • Before you leave the office write down everything that needs to be done, highlight the two that you will focus on the next morning, leave it there and go home to connect with your family
  • Find a handful of simple nourishing meals to feed your family and rotate them throughout the month
  • If you find a moment to catch your breath — ignore incoming calls
  • Take a sick day when unwell and allow yourself to rest completely
  • Create space around each activity so you are not rushing around

A busy life isn’t always a good life, as we are led to believe. Feeling like we are progressing is important. But so too is stopping to smell the roses once in a while. A good life involves pausing from time-to-time to look around, notice and appreciate the details around us.

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