Finding calm in the chaos.
During times of uncertainty and global change it’s 100% normal to be feeling anxious, and if this is something you’re experiencing right now please take comfort in knowing there are tools and techniques here to support you.
Anxiety, and persuasive worrying, kicks in when our mind wanders into the ‘What ifs’….What if I get sick? What if schools close? What if I can’t work? What if there’s no toilet paper!? We become so consumed by the unknown that our body starts to react in ways that cause us physical and/or mental stress. Maybe you experience shortness of breath, racing thoughts, trouble sleeping, or maybe you have full on panic attacks. Either way, it can feel very overwhelming.
So, what’s going on exactly?
When we have prolonged anxious thoughts, we activate the oldest part of our brain called ‘the Lizard Brain’. This is the part that focuses purely on survival, and directly controls your flight or fight response. When you’re functioning from this part of the brain all rational thought goes out the window, in turn forcing your logical (mammalian) brain to shut down. Now this is handy in the face of extreme immediate danger, yet not so handy for long term survival.
Therefore, the key to letting go and learning how to manage your anxiety effectively, is to lean into it.
Below are a few of my favourite tools and techniques to try, that can help with this.
Focus on the now – Shift your language from ‘What if?’ to ‘What is?’
Uncertainty and future rumination feeds anxious thoughts, therefore get factual about what is true for you in the moment. Instead of focusing on ‘what if’, list everything that ‘is’ true about you and the situation.
Slow your breathing – practice the 4-7-8 exercise
When you’re anxious your breathing becomes shallow and short, which only causes further tension in the body. To help regulate and relax your nervous system practice breathing in through your nose for a count of 4, holding your breath for a count of 7, and then breathing out through your mouth for a count of 8. Do this for 3 cycles a few times throughout the day.
Bring your body into the present moment – activate your 5 senses
When your mind is racing stop what you’re doing and run through the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. Take note of 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can feel, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste. This will immediately pull your mind and body back into the present moment and ground you in your physical reality.
I hope these help bring some peace and calm to your inner world right now, and please reach out if you would like to talk through any difficult feelings and thoughts you're experiencing .
With all my love,
(Photo credit: Olivia VanDyke)