We may call it stress. We may call it worry. We may not even know what to call it. But what we do know is that things don’t feel right. This is anxiety.
It affects all of us at some time or another, and it’s especially powerful in times of pressure, uncertainty and transition. Here are a few things that I know about anxiety:
Anxiety is a bully.
We’re all just walking around, minding our own business when suddenly it approaches. Our confidence, calm and focus are ripped away and all we’re left standing with are panic, stress and fear. It steals from us, and it has no regard for our plans or priorities.
Anxiety is sneaky.
Sometimes we can see it coming, but other times it jumps out of nowhere. We might be having a perfectly good day, when we’re suddenly blindsided by worry and fear. We feel immobilized, unsettled, and completely unsure of what to do next or how to make things better.
Anxiety is the worst.
It robs us of sleep, damages our relationships and interferes with our goals. It disrupts joy and makes us wonder if we’ll ever be calm again. It makes everything feel “wrong” and we’re left standing alone - scared and overwhelmed.
How Can We Fight Back?
The good news is, there’s actually a lot that we can do to combat anxiety. Self-care and self-compassion are two natural enemies of anxiety. Therapy can also be extremely effective to help defeat anxiety. In addition to these strategies, mindfulness meditation is one of the best tools to deal with anxiety.
Using Mindfulness to Defeat Anxiety
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that brings our attention to the here and now. Instead of being overwhelmed and paralyzed by our feelings, mindfulness allows us to sit back and witness our thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness teaches us to accept our thoughts and feelings without judgment, frustration or pressure. Here are a few tips for successfully using mindfulness to combat anxiety:
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Sometimes we put ourselves in an impossible position. We feel overwhelmed and in desperate need of relief, but we feel too overwhelmed to actually find relief. We sit and think, "I need to find the 'right thing' and I need to do it in just the 'right way'”. This is when we need to set a super low bar and just try something. The great news is that there’s no one ‘right’ way to practice mindfulness. A mindfulness exercise can be as simple as finding a quiet place to sit for a few minutes, taking a few deep breaths, and turning your attention inward. Set judgment aside and try to visualize your thoughts and emotions as they drift past. Try your best to accept your thoughts and emotions as they are.
- Make it easy. Technology is your friend. Even though technology can often be the source of a lot of our stress, it can also help us deal with it. There are about a million different resources available to us, but my two favorite tools are apps called Headspace and Calm. These apps are full of excellent mindfulness exercises and other helpful tools to quickly and efficiently combat anxiety and relieve stress.
- Build it into your routine. You brush your teeth every single morning without even thinking about it, right? When something is built into our daily routine, we do it without question. Build mindfulness into your daily routine, and I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can reduce anxiety and increase calm.
Hope you’re having a good day and check in if you need me!