5 Steps to Managing Anxiety

managing anxiety

We are all experiencing enormous amounts of anxiety right now.  Anxiety is helpful to a point; but unmanaged it can be debilitating. Here are some helpful steps:

  1. Take a breath. I use the 4-7-8 method. This means inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and exhale for 8 counts. A longer exhale activates the vagus nerve and can help calm the nervous system. Do 5 rounds of the 4-7-8 method.
  2. Thank the anxiety. This might seem weird. But if you think about it, the anxiety is there for a reason. It is like a warning siren, “watch out…danger….danger!” The part of us that feels anxious is there to protect us from danger. We do need to pay attention and be alert, especially right now. So thank that part of you that is telling you to pay attention. Sometimes the warning siren keeps going off even when we aren’t in immediate danger. That leads me to the next step.
  3. Focus on the present. We need to shift from the “what ifs to the what is”. The anxious part can focus on what if this happens; what if that happens…these can be catastrophic thoughts. Not helpful! Instead of focusing on “what if”, focus on “what is”. What is happening right now? For me, what is happening right now is that I’m healthy, I’m safe and I’m feeling some fear. My children are healthy and safe. I am feeling some gratitude for this.
  4. What do I have control of? Well it’s definitely not the stock market or this awful virus. I don’t have control over when the schools open or when we can all get back to our normal lives. I do have control over how I structure my days; how much news I consume; how much caffeine I drink; whether I exercise or not; how I respond to my family. I have a lot of projects I’d like to work on and I do have control over whether or not I’m spending my time on them.”
  5. What is a step I can take- right now- In the direction I have some control over? I can take a breath; I can put my phone down :); I can put on my shoes and head out for a walk; I can work on that project.