Five Stress Management Techniques to use When Feeling Anxious
Let’s be clear. Anxiety sucks. Stress sucks. Feeling out of control sucks. All of these sucky feelings require stress management techniques that are sure to help you feel calm when anxiety strikes. Keep reading to find out five techniques that are proven to work.
2. Do Something that Scares You
3. Change Your Mindset
4. Check Your Expectations
5. Be Kind to Yourself
I know that this is a four-letter word to a lot of people. Let me be clear that when I say exercise, I do not necessarily mean running 5 miles a day, getting your heart rate up and breaking out into an uncontrollable sweat. What I am talking about is movement.
Just get up and move. If you can, get out into nature. Science has proven to us that there is a direct link between nature and that feel-good hormone called serotonin.
I like to start my morning with 20-30 minutes of Barre or Pilates work. I don’t like to do more than 30 minutes because it is not sustainable for me. I recommend Sadie Lincoln for Barre and Ellen Barrett for Pilates. They helped me lose two pant sizes without really breaking a sweat.
Exercise should be a lifestyle. With that in mind, only do what you can do forever. A wise person once told me that we should move in a way that feels good to us. In other words, don’t run if you hate it. Pick something that you like and do that.
Over time, I guarantee that your mind will start to feel clearer and your anxiety will reduce.
Do Something that Scares You
Why would I do that, you might be asking. After all, anxiety requires us to run away from fear.
Here’s the thing, though. If you are constantly running away from fear, you are never actually running toward success. So how about we run toward the fear?
The reason that we need to do that which scares us is because the goal is that it won’t scare us. If we keep running away from fear, that fear will never go away.
Don’t worry, baby steps are okay. I like to pick a few things a week. If you are really brave, you can pick one a day. It could be something simple or something bigger. Examples might be
- Going to the grocery store
- Making that phone call you have been putting off
- Going to a party alone
The point is, by forcing yourself to do something that causes anxiety, the more likely that you will be able to squash that anxiety.
Doing something that scares you takes practice. Don’t expect to no longer feel anxious because you made one phone call. You will have to do it multiple times. But I guarantee that after just one time, you will feel empowered.
There are two ways that people think. One is a growth mindset, the other a fixed mindset. One helps us to see possibilities, the other hurdles.
Fixed Mindset: People with a fixed mindset answer questions with a “yes, but.” They are always looking for reasons that something will not be able to happen. Those with a fixed mindset tend to think that things cannot change.
Growth Mindset: By contrast, those with a fixed mindset answer questions with a “yes, and.” They see possibilities in everything and realize that while things may not be ideal in the moment, there is potential that one day it will be.
Be like the person with the growth mindset.
Those with anxiety tend to have a fixed mindset. Not because they are negative people or do not want change, but because they are afraid that they do not have the power to effect change in their own lives.
We all have more power than we think. When we are feeling anxious, it is far more productive and powerful to think in terms of “yes, and.”
Here’s an example:
Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset
I will never be able to overcome my anxiety
I may be struggling now, but I will keep trying
There are many resources that you can use to help with mindset. I recommend Panic Away, which is a researched-based, proven method of overcoming anxiety and panic attacks.
Check Your Expectations
If you expect too much from yourself too soon, you will only be disappointment. That disappointment will drive you to be more likely to quit.
Starting small is imperative in the road to overcoming anxiety. Be where you are, and move forward from there.
If your biggest fear is being a group of people, maybe don’t go to a New Year’s Eve party where there will be 300 people. Instead, start with a small gathering of 5-10 people and work your way up.
Be Kind to Yourself
Overcoming anxiety is a process. You have likely spent years doing the same thing. It is going to take time to change.
Stay focused. Write down your goals. If you think it will be helpful, find an accountability partner; someone for whom you can share your plan. Over time, you will find that you are stronger and able to face the fear, knowing that you can conquer it.
It takes more than applying these four stress management techniques to fully have your anxiety under control. Panic Away is a great program to start with. I use it myself, and find that it helps me to stay grounded.
Remember, anxiety always begins as as stress. The goal is to stop the repeated thoughts before that stress turns into anxiety.