Last week, we visited a local primary school and delivered a workshop all about anxiety, and specifically how to manage it. One of the key things about anxiety is that it affects us physiologically AND psychologically. It affects our body and it affects our thoughts. And so we have to manage it in both those ways.
When we feel anxious, we experience a lot of changes in our body. This might be faster breathing or heart rate, dilated pupils, sweaty hands, tense muscles or shaking, or even feeling a bit sick. All these things happen to protect our body and to keep us safe, providing us with the energy that we need to fight a threat or to run away.
However, these responses can sometimes happen even if there is no physical threat, which can be more unhelpful than helpful. We can use a variety of breathing exercises and self-soothing methods to focus on the present, and help our body relax and return to its normal state. Have a look at our previous blog on managing emotions to find some ideas of strategies to self-sooth. See if you can find a strategy that engages each of your 5 senses.
Once we have been able to calm our body, and our muscles have relaxed, our heart rate and breathing have returned to normal, we can focus on ways to calm our thoughts.
Some great questions you can ask yourself about an anxious thought are:
1. What is the evidence for and against this anxious thought?
Think about the facts surrounding this situation. Think about all the times you have been in a similar situation, and what the outcome has been. Do you know other people who have been in a similar situation? What would you a remind a friend if they were worried about a similar thing. You could even make a table to write down all your evidence for and against the thought.
3. What is the worst-case scenario if this did happen?
Think about what is the worst thing that can happen. Often identifying the worst case scenario reminds us that it isn't as bad as we think. If the worst case scenario did happen, how long would it last or affect you?
4. Do I have control over this situation?
If you do have control, think about what you can do to make the situation more managable. If you don't have control, change your focus onto things that you do have control over.
5. How can I find a positive in this situation?
What is the potential best case scenario in this situation? What could you learn from this situation? If you can't identify a positive of the situation, switch your focus onto other positive's about your life of things you can be thankful for.
6. Who can I talk to about how I am feeling?
Even though talking can't always take a worry or situation away, it can help to process and share the load! Who are the people you can go to when you are feeling worried or anxious?
Remember that everybody has times of feeling anxious! We have all experienced a lot of change this year and so it is okay to feel overwhelmed and more anxious than usual. Remember to be kind to yourself.
If you are concerned about your anxiety or mental health, please find someone to talk to. We are still offering virtual mentoring for young people at this time so please check out our blog to find out more.
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