We've all been there.
You’re in the waiting room. Or just waiting somewhere. Soon it will begin.
Your leg is shaking nervously. You can’t really hear that well what someone next to you is saying.
Your thoughts are one big jumbled incoherent mess.
Perhaps you have a big test in school or an important meeting/job-interview. Maybe you have an uncomfortable appointment with your doctor or dentist.
Whatever it is, it makes you feel worried and anxious.
Now, what I’m talking about here aren’t anxiety attacks or anything that serious. I know very little about such problems and possible solutions.
But the following 8 tips have helped me handle the lower and medium levels of anxiety and worrying that most of us experience from time to time.
1. Take 30 belly-breaths.
Actually I’ve found that just after 10-15 belly-breaths stress or anxiety will dissipate and you’ll feel a lot calmer. But you may want to take 30 just to be on the safe side.
This simple exercise works remarkably well whenever you feel negative emotions like anxiety or anger trying to drag you down. For practical instructions about belly-breathing, have a look at this short article.
2. Get good knowledge.
Anxiety often comes from uncertainty. Knowledge blows away uncertainty and replaces it with more certainty and a clearer picture of what is to be expected. And when you dig up some information then the problem is many times not as bad as you imagined.
So, ask someone who has been where you are how it is, what they did and what’s to be expected. Read about it in books or magazines. Research and Google it.
3. Redirect your mind.
You don’t always have to think about your problems and create more anxiety. If it feels bad redirect your mind.
- Watch a couple of episodes of an excellent sit-com like The Simpsons or Seinfeld.
- Have a great conversation or night out.
- Go to the gym and really focus on the workout.
When you are done your feelings will most likely be more positive. If there’s something you can do about whatever is causing your anxiety now you are in a much better position to do something about it than when you were all wound up in those negative feelings.
4. Don’t forget to eat.
The most obvious advice of this article. But I know that if I don’t eat when my body needs to then my blood-sugar drops and I more easily become irritated, nervous or anxious. When your body needs energy feed it.
If your negative emotions start to pop up in your day without much reason then it might just mean that you need to eat something.
5. Ask yourself: is this useful?
I often stop and ask myself if a train of thoughts I’m having is useful. I have found it to be quite helpful to put a stop to negative thoughts and negative thought spirals (when you get more and more negative during several minutes while thinking about that big meeting that’s coming up).
If I ask myself this question and realize that my current thoughts aren’t that useful at all then it becomes easier to just let go of them.
6. Observe the feeling.
Sometimes the anxious feeling can be quite intense and sticky. It’s hard to get rid of it.
A good way, in my experience, to let go of such a feeling is to surrender to it.
If you have read this blog for a while then I’m sure you have heard about this method before. But the reason I keep mentioning it is because it’s simple and more effective than you might expect at first. Here is what you do:
When you feel a negative feeling then accept that feeling. Don’t try to fight it or to keep it out (like many of us have learned throughout life).
Say yes to it.
Surrender and let it in.
Observe the feeling in your mind and body without labelling or judging it. If you let it in – for me the feeling then often seems physically locate itself to the middle of my chest – and just observe it for maybe a minute or two something wonderful happens.
The feeling just vanishes. And your mind will stop putting in new energy into the problem.
7. Stay in the present.
Anxiety is sometimes a fear of the future. One way to lessen anxiety on a more long-term level is to not to think of the future more than necessary.
Instead stay in the present as much as you can.
This is not that easy if you are used to spend much time thinking/worrying about the past or imagining the future.
So you need to work on it, just like when trying to learn a new sport or instrument.
You can start by just paying attention to what is happening right now. Just focus on the scene and the sounds right in front of you. Don’t think about the reports you have finish before 5, the meeting tomorrow and what you want for dinner.
Just pay attention to the present moment and nothing else for a few moments.
Make it a habit and try to expand the time you can spend in the present moment before your thoughts drift away again. You can also look into some form of meditation to strengthen your connection to the now.
8. Find good ways to relax and deal with stress.
A good place to get started with that is with this article, it contains 33 tips that can help you with the stress.