Anxiety is a natural part of our life and not something we can or should completely rid ourselves of. In fact, stress can be a good thing when we learn how to harness its energy properly.
The purpose of stress is to motivate us into action. It is a natural reaction to perceived changes in the environment that may threaten our overall sense of security. When we experience the proper amount it heightens our awareness, gives us physical strength and sharpens our thoughts. However, when it gets out of control, it can wreak havoc on our abilities to respond appropriately. This often leads to us shutting down or running away to avoid our anxious feelings.
Keeping your anxiety in check comes down to some basic skills that anyone can learn.
Challenge or threat?
If you want to keep your stress in check, then notice how you are appraising the situation. People who deal with their stress more productively view their problems as challenges while less successful people see the as threats.
If you see your problem as a threat, then you’re telling yourself that if you don’t succeed in dealing with this, your life as you know it will be in danger. Simply put, you are viewing the moment as a life or death situation? Because of this extreme interpretation, your nervous system is supplying you with more than enough energy to help you run or fight for your life.
The problem with this is that we are hardly ever in a life threating emergency. In fact, most of our anxiety is produced when we are thinking about our problems, and not actually dealing with them. To the brain, however, this doesn’t matter because the nervous system that regulates our fight or flight response can’t tell the difference between what we imagine to be true and what is true.
Successfully dealing with stress begins with stepping back and carefully evaluating the situation as a challenge instead of a threat. In doing so, you start to realize that your problem is not a matter of life or death, and whatever it is you are dealing with, you can handle.
A challenge is something we can rise up and conquer. By seeing your problems as challenges, you are affirming that by being persistent, you can deal with them effectively. A challenge is not life threatening, but rather a game and a time to dig deep into your bag of tricks and discover a workable solution.
Experiencing anxiety causes our breathing to become rapid and shallow. This type of breathing limits the amount of oxygen getting to our brains which lead us to unconsciously believe we are suffocating. This then leads to us to panic, even more, reinforcing the belief that we are being attacked.
Deep full breaths, on the other hand, sends plenty of life enhancing oxygen to our brain. The cool thing here is it also communicates an opposite message that instead of suffocating, we are in control and everything is fine.
Tell yourself, “I make myself calm.”
A few years back I started experiencing anxiety quite often, and for no real reason. At this point, I began searching for an effective way to deal with it. I tried many different solutions. I found that silently repeating the words, “I make myself calm,” as I take a nice full breath of fresh air worked better than anything else I had discovered.
I would practice breathing thinking those words, several times throughout the day. The results were incredible. Within two weeks I was no longer experiencing unnecessary anxiety. As a bonus, I am now able to do this once and immediately begin to reap its relaxing benefits.
The trick with this one is to breath in slowly and thoroughly while thinking the words with a calm and relaxing voice. I think the words, “I make myself” as I inhale and “calm” as I slowly exhale.
Ask yourself, “What problem do I have at this very moment?”
Most of the times, our problems are really us anticipating an adverse outcome to something that may or may not happen in the future. By asking yourself if you have any real problems right not, you are able to redirect your thoughts into the current moment where you are presently safe.
If you do have a problem right now, then deal with it. But if it is one you are anticipating, keep your mind in the present moment, see it as a challenge you can rise to, and breathe fully while telling yourself, “I make myself calm.” And move on to step five.
Create a plan of action.
Not dealing with the source of your anxiety will only prolong and strengthen your stress. Instead of avoiding your problems, decide what you can do about them and get into action. You might be nervous as first, but I promise you, doing something about it empowers you and always leaves you feeling a little better.
Make the decision to conquer your fears. Create an action plan and get moving. Remember, it is nothing more that a challenge that you can handle.
Question: How do you effectively deal with your stress and anxiety? You can leave a comment by clicking here.