Tip 1 – Understand that anxiety is not your fault
Why are we collectively dealing with so much anxiety?
Understanding the roots of your anxiety is essential and also realising that it is not your fault is the first step to moving away from its crippling effects on your life. Quite simply, you are programmed to survive and you, like us all, have a negative bias that keeps us alive and protects us from danger. This negative bias is, therefore, strong and for good reason; it is a fundamental part of our survival and must be maintained so that if we are confronted with a threat or trauma we have a strong resource of this energy to help us cope in times of genuine need.
Think of this as similar to having savings in the bank which can be used in the case of an emergency. However, this out of date system is constantly being triggered due to the pressures of modern life. Cortisol (the stress hormone) is persistently triggered and released leaving many of us living in a constant state of fight or flight. This has developed into a pattern of automatic response; we have developed the habit of anxiety.
TIP 2 – Understand your subconscious power
Your subconscious mind is very open and suggestible and you have a lot more control over it than you may imagine, in fact, you have complete authority over soothing anxiety and focusing on being calm and confident. Due to the highly impressionable nature of your subconscious, it is important to learn how to communicate with it. If you think your subconscious mind is like a small child and your conscious mind is the parent, everything that you say conditions a response of either fear or love depending on your thoughts, wouldn’t you choose to be kinder and calmer to the child? Becoming more positive is not about changing who you are, it is about accessing a part of you that is already there. It is about tapping into your higher self, best self or executive self – the part of you that is free and lives moment to moment. This is the power of programming your subconscious to focus on love rather than fear which is what drives anxiety.
TIP 3 – Discover a positive self-concept
The way you speak about your life (in your own mind and out loud to others) is essentially a way of creating your own story, both to yourself and to other people. The words that you use to describe yourself, your family, where you live and the work that you do are important. These words form the framework of how you feel about yourself and the life that you have created. How you describe yourself, how you describe your family, your home and your work. This is the story you tell yourself and has a huge impact on your daily life. YOU are telling the story to yourself. Make it a good one!
How to apply a positive self-concept in everyday life – First thing in the morning and last thing at night visualise yourself going through each day the way you wish to think, feel and behave. As humans, we are unique in our ability to imagine. When you close your eyes and imagine something, your body will respond to the images in your mind as if the event were really happening. Each day acknowledge what was good about the day and make a point of telling your family and friends about the good or funny things that happened. The mind forms memories through experiences so it is useful to acknowledge positive events and to build on these.
TIP 4 – Learn to love and parent yourself
Becoming an adult is essentially about shifting the power and responsibility from your parents to yourself. It is about letting go of any real or perceived hurt and pain from the past and realising that to feel safe, secure and loved you must cultivate these feelings from within. The full realisation that you are responsible for yourself is a fundamental step for mental well-being. You have everything you need within yourself, you are complete and whole. Feeling you are worthy of care and love and providing that for yourself is liberation. The most important relationship that you will ever have is the one you have with yourself.
Stop the habit of negative thinking – Negative thinking is a habit and habits must be broken when dealing with anxiety. Negative self-talk (the inner critic) is often a habit of which we are not even aware. By watching your thoughts you can begin to learn a lot about how your mind operates and the effect your thoughts have on your feelings and ultimately how you behave. When you tell yourself that you have no energy, or that you are fed up, stressed and frustrated then that is what you will feel. Does this sound familiar?
Top love tip – Have a photograph of yourself as a child somewhere you can see it every day. Each time you see it remember that your inner child is still within you. Always choose to speak to yourself with compassion and understanding, as you would speak to a child that needed your help.
TIP 5 – Start caring for yourself
The habit of practical self-care is essential to implement when dealing with anxiety. Your body responds well to having its needs met and soon recognises the rewards of a healthy self-care habit. After a period the body craves what the body gets. For example, if your body is regularly exercised it will begin to automatically expect this and feels deprived if it doesn’t get it.
If you have ever had a pet, let alone a child, then you will know how much care and attention is needed to look after them. There is an episode of The Simpsons where Homer is surprised his dog is so angry. ‘Hey, why is the dog so angry?’ Homer asks, and Bart replies, ‘You never feed him, take him for a walk, or let him go out to pee.’ We wouldn‘t expect our children to wake after a restless four or five hours sleep, forget to feed them breakfast and send them off to school in the morning in the hope that they have time to grab a quick snack at lunch if they have time to stop their school work. Yet many of us treat ourselves in this manner and wonder why we feel worn out, exhausted and struggle to think clearly. It is important to emphasise the necessity of choosing and establishing a self-care programme that works for you. The words to note here are ‘self’ and ‘care’. When you care for yourself you love yourself and have a healthy respect for serving your own needs. With this comes a deep sense of love and compassion.
Top care tip – Your body always knows what it needs and when you slow down the mind we can hear the message it is giving you. Listen actively to the signals from your body each day and develop an open relationship between your body and mind, so that both may flourish.