If I had to describe anxiety, I’d say it’s like a Vise Grip on your brain, squeezing tighter and tighter until all you feel is fear and all you see is doom and gloom. You’re not yourself anymore. You’re not free to think your own thoughts. You’re just controlled by this thing, and your attempts to get rid of it.
How nice would it be to have your brain back? These 5 tips will help you get back in control.
Tip #1: Identify what's making you anxious
Sometimes you can be anxious and not even know what you’re anxious about. Please do not accept this as just “general anxiety.” Anxiety always has a source. Even if it’s something large like social situations or failure at work, put a name to it.
Identifying where your anxiety is coming from immediately gives you some control back.
Tip #2: Pick one thing to be anxious about
Now you’re going to break it down even further. We women tend to think we’re multi-taskers, but in reality, we can only do one thing at a time well. The same is true for anxiety.
You may be anxious about lots of things, but usually there’s one thing that you’re anxious about, and it casts an anxious shadow over everything else.
To illustrate this, let’s pretend that I’m anxious about tomorrow. We’ll say tomorrow is Monday, and I have a morning meeting at work, a ton of tasks on my to-do list, and I have to fill in at the front desk for an hour during lunch time.
At first glance, I’m anxious about the whole day because it’s busy and I’m unsure if I can get everything done.
But if I try to pick one thing, I realize that I’m nervous about filling in at the front desk because I haven’t had a lot of training and I’m naturally very introverted. Once I get through that, I’ll feel better.
See how that works? If you have trouble with this, ask yourself, “What one thing, if it were removed, would make me feel better?” Now you can put all the other anxieties aside, and just deal with one thing.
Tip #3: Push anxiety off until later
This is the only time I’m going to tell you to procrastinate, but with anxiety, it’s actually a useful tool. How many times have you been anxious for hours, even days ahead of a presentation you had to give or an interview you had to go to? Did you really need to spend all that time being anxious?
With this tactic, you decide when you get to be anxious. You say to yourself, “Self...you will be anxious the day of, and not a minute before.”
Knowing that you are allowed to be anxious makes you feel okay with pushing it off until later. And do you know what happens when the day rolls around? You’re actually less anxious because you haven’t been thinking about it for hours on end!
Tip #4: Do the opposite of what you normally do when you're anxious
What do you do when you’re anxious? Do you jump into action, trying to get everything done at once? Are you paralyzed with fear? Whatever that behavior is that you compulsively do when you’re anxious, stop. It’s not helping you. If it was, you’d immediately calm down after doing whatever it is you do. But you’re not calm. So try the opposite.
If you normally jump into action, try taking a break to reset your mind. Take a bath, take a walk, or watch a show. If you normally do nothing, try to take one step. Maybe that’s writing a to-do list, or preparing in some way. You’ll find that doing something different gives you some perspective. Maybe it’s not as bad as it seemed!
Tip #5: Trust in something bigger than yourself
At the root of anxiety is a fear that you are unable to handle something. That you are inadequate. So don’t trust yourself. Trust God! He’s big enough, powerful enough and loving enough to be everything you can’t be.
How many times have you gotten through situations that you looked back on and thought, “I have no idea how I got through that?” You’re still standing, right? So when you’re facing something that you’re not sure if you can handle, that’s okay! That’s a perfect time to invite God to help you in that situation.
Okay, now you have 5 ways to reduce anxiety. Go get your brain back, girl!
P.S. If you want to understand exactly why you struggle with anxiety and where it all came from, click below to download my free worksheet, Discover the Roots of Your Anxiety.