Many of us will experience varying levels of anxiety during our lives for different reasons. Significant life events, such as moving house or starting a new job, can lead us to feeling anxious. Worrying about basic needs, including food and money, can also be triggers for this.
It’s important to recognise these feelings, exploring ways in which we can manage this anxiety through helpful methods and tips.
Prevent your anxiety
Taking part in body scanning activities can help us to identify how and when we experience anxiety. This can be done through progressive muscle relaxation, which focuses on tensing and relaxing particular muscles in order to lower your overall tension and stress levels. Journalling is an additional preventative measure, where you can note your mood and physical symptoms, such as being dizzy or feeling sick.
As you begin to practice these methods, it’ll become easier to identify how you’re feeling, leading to you being able to effectively use these measures to stay feeling calm, in control, and safe in your body.
Know your triggers
Many of us have triggers which make us feel anxious. Although these triggers may differ in levels of intensity, it’s important to identify what they are and when they occur. Examples could include a change in your job role or public speaking. Having knowledge of this will help you identify areas of your life which you may want to work on to build a sense of confidence.
Create a scale of anxiety
Low levels of anxiety can sometimes help us to focus, giving us the ability to perform a task or role. Develop a scale of anxiety where you can recognise when the anxiety starts to become intense and unhelpful. From there, create a scale of one to five - one highlighting small feelings of worry, which has no physical symptoms and allows you to still perform tasks. The opposite end of the scale at five outlines debilitating anxiety where you’re unable to focus on any task.
It's helpful to plan in ‘worry time’, where we take time out in a quiet space to reflect on how we feel, exploring scenarios and consequences. Worrying is a normal emotion, so we need to allow ourselves space to feel this, and recognise when it starts to become unhelpful.
Develop an anxiety plan
An anxiety plan will help you to think about different scenarios, and the various ways in which you could manage them. Within the scenarios, identify what you can and can’t control. This will help in gathering wider perspectives to get a well-rounded view and accurate assessment of the situation. Using positive self-talk, such as affirmations of positive phrases, will help you to feel in control. Think about who you can go to for support, what services might be helpful, or the tools you can utilise to take charge of how you feel.
Put together a toolbox of strategies
Everyone experiences anxiety in different ways, which is why a wide selection of strategies can be useful. Pull together a toolbox of the best strategies and tools which work for you, to be used as part of your prevention and anxiety plan. Some coping tools may include:
- Drinking ice cold water through a straw to help reset your nervous system
- Gently pulling and playing with your ears to help tap into acupressure points
- Use hand cream to massage your hands, creating a sense of relaxation in your body
At Northpoint, we provide a range of talking therapies to thousands of people across Yorkshire and surrounding areas. Find out more about what we do here.
Guest blog by Liz Maskew, school therapist at Northpoint