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5 steps to reduce anxiety

releasing-anxiety total balance

Many of the people I work with tell me they are feeling more anxious than usual. It has been an unsettling time in the world – both financially and environmentally. For those of us living in Victoria, the bushfires heightened our sensitivity to global warming and the fragility of our existence at every level. Even if you’re not prone to anxiety, challenging times such as these can still make you more vulnerable to stress.

One of the more common types of anxiety is known as ‘generalised anxiety disorder’ and it often presents itself as excessive worrying. People who suffer from this ailment experience symptoms such as irritability, difficulty in concentrating, restlessness and agitation. They find it difficult to relax and often have trouble sleeping. The result is that their enjoyment of life is significantly reduced.

Five steps to manage anxiety

1. Understand what drives your worry

There are a range of factors that contribute to ‘generalised anxiety disorder’. Whilst external influences contribute to how much you’re worrying, it’s worth reflecting on what it is that drives you internally. Some common contributors are the desire to please others, an excessive need for control, perfectionism or a need for approval. Once we’re aware of our drivers it gives us a choice to re-evaluate how useful and valid these factors are in our lives.

2. Notice your thoughts

Begin by just paying attention to the often unconscious messages and thoughts that repeat themselves in your mind. Notice how often you gravitate towards ‘what if’ thinking (‘what if I lose my job?’, ‘what if I mess up my presentation/interview?’ ‘what if my business doesn’t thrive?). It’s draining to be in a constant state of worry and as most of us know, the majority of things we worry about never actually happen. It is the worry itself that affects our quality of life.

3. Challenge your thinking

Once you’re aware, take some time to write down one or two of your worrying thoughts. Then ask yourself a series of questions to explore your worry more directly.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely is it that this outcome will occur?
  • What is the worst thing that can happen?
  • What is the best thing that can happen?
  • What is most likely to happen?
  • How would you advise a friend in your situation?
  • What actions can you take now to alleviate your worry?

4. Learn to physically relax

Stress and worry often present themselves as physical symptoms in our bodies. Some of the common feelings include tense muscles, racing heart, shortness of breath, a whirling feeling in the mind or a knot in your stomach. Spending just five or ten minutes allowing yourself to physically relax can reduce the amount of adrenaline in your system and help you to feel instantly calm. Find a comfortable place to lie down and put on some relaxing music. Slowly work from the top of the head all the way down your body relaxing each and every muscle. In your mind say to yourself ‘I’m relaxing my forehead; my cheeks are softening; I’m letting my shoulders drop’ as you slowly work down through the body. Allow yourself to stay in that physically relaxed state for five minutes.

5. Learn to meditate

  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted and take the phone off the hook
  • Sit in a comfortable chair and begin by taking some long slow deep breaths
  • Begin your meditation by simply focusing your attention on the sound of your outward breath
  • When your thoughts distract you, gently let them go and return your focus to your breath
  • Don’t worry about whether your technique is right. Just the simple act of stopping and resting will make a difference.
  • If you have time, meditate for twenty minutes, checking the time on a watch or clock. If you can’t sit still for that long, begin with five minutes. Even a short meditation will help.
  • Take your time coming out of your meditation
  • Sit quietly at the completion of your meditation before resuming your activities

 

5 thoughts on “5 steps to reduce anxiety

  1. ohmanohman, i wish i could join you in bali! if you ever need a counselor-type assistant, i’m your girl, kate!

    your comment on my blog was touching and heartfelt. i hope you keep doing what you think is best. i know you will.

    nothing beats loving our kids.

    xoxo

  2. Love this blog Kate. I have a friend who is going through a very tough time at the moment, and this would help her a lot. Your words are beautiful and supportive and most of all helpful!

  3. Thanks for your offer kj…I’ll keep that in mind! I completely agree that nothing beats loving our kids.

    I hope your friend is ok Kate. It’s lovely of you to be thinking of her when I know you have a completely full life of your own.

    Thanks for visiting Siddharth. I’ll drop by your blog.

  4. Kate I entered both your comments because they were both appropriate.

    I don’t find it insensitive, but what I did find was how compassionate and caring you are to have noticed Lynne’s comment and want to make it better and acknowlege her loss.

    You are always amazing.

    I absolutely love this post and will be coming back to print this page and write it out.

    I think you have just given us a free meditation class.

    Bali sounds so amazing.

    Love Renee xoxo

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Posted in: Wellbeing
Kate James

I'm Kate James and the owner of Total Balance. I work with people who care about living purposeful, creative lives. My clients want to clarify their personal values, identify their strengths and learn about how they can make a difference in the world in their own unique way.

I run workshops and retreats in Melbourne and Byron Bay to give you the chance to escape the noise of everyday to discover what really matters to you.