4 Healthy Ways to Distract Yourself from Anxiety
Anxiety is a natural dialogue between our mind and body. It’s a red flag that something might be going on in our surroundings that requires our attention.
For most of us, anxiety is an uncomfortable but fleeting feeling that pops up on occasion during particularly stressful times. For some, anxiety may be more present and color more of their daily life. And for still others, anxiety is a constant torture; a nightmare they can’t awaken from.
Depending on your level of anxiety, there are some healthy coping strategies you can use to manage it. Here are 4 I recommend:
Mind Your Mind
How often are you aware of your own thoughts? Our thoughts tend to bubble up from our subconscious without much control from our conscious mind. For those experiencing anxiety, many of these thoughts will be negative and frightening, although the majority will not be based in reality.
Start to pay attention to the thoughts behind the feelings. Instead of thinking the worst will happen, challenge the thought. What is the realistic likelihood the worst will happen on a scale of 1 – 10?
The more you do this, the more you will retrain your mind to process life differently.
Remind Yourself What Anxiety Is
Beyond frightful emotions, anxiety often comes with physical sensations like tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. In other words, it can feel like you are dying.
But you’re not.
You are having a physical response to a fear or thought. Remind yourself of that ancient dialogue your mind and body are having and know that, in reality, you are okay. Once you’re in fight-or-flight mode it can be challenging to shift it, but thinking of the anxiety as an emotion, a reaction, not a permanent or uncontrollable experience, can help. You are not the anxiety.
Learn Your Triggers
Once you learn to pay attention to your thoughts and remain calm knowing you are having a natural reaction to what you perceive as a threat, find the threat. Observe your surroundings to find the potential trigger that activated your reaction. If there are other people in the room, notice their reaction to your trigger. Do they seem uneasy or concerned in the least? Chances are they don’t because the threat is not real. Store this information away so eventually your subconscious mind will stop thinking of the trigger as a threat. Or, if others around you are, in fact, reacting a lot to the trigger issue, remove yourself from the situation. Being with others who are stressed or anxious only exacerbates your own.
Slow, deep breaths have been shown to instantly calm a person. Your heart rate will slow, your muscles will relax, your entire body will return to a normal state of being. Focus on every little bit of relaxing that your body does and remind yourself that you’re in charge of your body’s reaction. And paying close attention to the breath keeps your mind from doing the “what if”s and “it’s awful”s and thinking about the future. If it’s hard to stay focused on the breath you can count, out loud even, and try to match the length of the in breath with the out breath.
If you find you need a bit more help controlling your anxiety, please get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how we can work together to help you.