Anxiety is a common mental health issue, affecting 6-18% of people globally. It has the power to ruin relationships and job prospects, and leave you completely debilitated. Anxiety doesn’t just exist in the mind. It exists in the body too. It creates tension in your muscles, can make it hard to sleep, cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. You might feel hopeless when you start to feel anxiety in your body, but there are ways to overcome these feelings. You don’t have to live with anxiety forever. Here are a few things you can do to help change your anxious habits and live a fuller life.
Recognize Your Triggers
An important step in managing anxiety is to recognize where your anxiety comes from. For some people, it might be an unhealed trauma, but for others, it might be a social situation, a new experience, a sound or taste or smell. Identifying the source of your anxiety, and the things that trigger an anxious response in your body is the first step to better understanding yourself. UnwindingAnxiety.com says that by identifying these triggers you can “stop [the anxiety] before it starts, or unwind it once it has started.”
Get in Tune With Your Body
When you start to feel anxious it’s time to check in with your body. Close your eyes and sync up with your breathing. Focus on regulating your breathing by taking deep breaths. Pay attention to where you feel the anxiety in your body. Is it in your chest? Stomach? Hands and feet? Bringing awareness to these parts of your body and fully acknowledging the anxiety is an important habit to form.
Pause Before You React
Anxiety triggers your fight or flight response, which makes you want to act impulsively when you start to feel anxious. You might have the urge to make a snap decision, run away, yell, or hide. Instead, try pausing. It can feel impossible when your entire body is screaming at you to run, but pausing is a really effective way to slow down and think before you react. As anxiety starts to rise in your body, take a second to notice the feeling and sensations, and observe what’s happening in your mind. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and take note of them. It’s okay if you feel sad, or scared, or angry. Observe them and acknowledge them and try not to get caught up in your racing thoughts.
Journal Your Experience
Journaling is a great way to process your thoughts and feelings, either while they are happening or after the fact. It is also helpful to be able to look back on previous entries to look for common themes. You might be able to identify triggers and habits that are either helpful or unhelpful to managing your anxiety. Writing your thoughts down can also help you understand them better and recognize them as anxious thoughts and not facts.
Anxiety can be overwhelming and scary, but you don’t have to handle it alone. You can learn to manage your thoughts and move toward a more mindful future.