5 simple tools to tackle anxiety

Pandemic or no pandemic, everyone can experience anxiety. Bec MacCallum offers her tips for turning down the dial on stress and building resilience.

Modern life is stressful at the best of times, but in a pandemic it’s natural that anxiety and stress levels will rise. And if you’ve been working from home, particularly with children around, it’s a wonder you’ve managed to keep it together at all.

We can all do with a little help managing our stress at times. Luckily, there’s some simple techniques you can use at home to help restore calm to your mind. Let me talk you through.

1. Live in the present

Anxiety is fear of the future rooted in the learnings of the past. In other words: when we’ve had negative experiences, we fear that these will happen again when triggered by similar events.

For example, when we lose a contract we start to worry about money, which can escalate to “In three-weeks time, I’m not going to be able to feed my kids”.

Instead of living in the reality of the present, where we could secure a new contract the next day, we worry about the future.

2. Practice ‘The Switch’

‘The Switch’ is a really simple technique that helps you combat these negative thoughts. It goes like this:

  1. As soon as a negative thought (i.e. “I’m going to be destitute”) comes into your mind, catch it.
  2. Then say ‘Switch’.
  3. Now replace the thought with an opposite, positive thought (i.e. “I have other opportunities to make money and I’ll focus on them”).

By doing this consistently, it’s possible to retrain your brain, building your mental resilience in the long-term as well as the short term.  

3. Just breathe

'And breathe' read neon lights hanging in a dense bush

Conscious breathing is used in all relaxation therapies from yoga to hypnotherapy, because breathing is your body’s natural calming mechanism.

Taking deep slow breaths can slow down your heart rate and help you to focus on what is important.

If you feel stress and anxiety rising take a moment and just breathe deeply for ten or more breaths.

Ideally take yourself away from the situation first and give yourself as long as you need. You’ll soon feel calmer and more able to cope. 

4. Switch off

Whether it’s watching the news or scrolling through social media, our digital behaviour can have a harmful impact on our mental wellbeing. It can be overwhelming and we can absorb the negative messaging.

In moments of high anxiety it’s ok to switch off. The World will still be there when you switch back on again.

5. Connect with nature

You can combine all of the above behaviours just by getting out into nature without electronic devices. Take a walk somewhere peaceful and then take a moment to sit on the grass, breathe in the fresh air and listen to the birds.

Wherever your head is right now, remember that it’s perfect – there’s no right or wrong way to feel. And know that if you’re in a bad place, you have the power to turn it around.

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