3 Things you can do Right Now if you’re feeling anxious

Everyone feels anxious sometimes – some people feel anxious far more regularly and intensely than others. If you can recall a time when you were anxious, you probably recognise the immediacy of the experience; how it swarms around you, affecting you physically, cognitively and emotionally.

Here are 3 things that you can do when you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by anxiety:

  1. Label your experience from moment to moment

Name, out loud or in your head, whether you are having a thought or experiencing a feeling, i.e. “that’s a thought” or “that’s a feeling”.

Thoughts and feelings will probably be arising very quickly, but focus on labelling them as close to their appearance as possible

This is simple but it’s very effective. Instead of getting wrapped up in the story of the anxiety, this practice allows us to view our thoughts and feelings from a more objective standpoint.

  1. Focus on bodily movements

I find the most effective form of physical movement on which to focus is walking. If we concentrate very closely to the physical act of walking, we find a lot of distinct movements and physical sensations.

i.e. bending the knees; moving the hips; the feeling of the heel touching the ground, the sole of the foot touching the ground, etc…

Again, name out loud or in your head, each physical sensation as it occurs.

This practice is most effective when we walk slower than we normally would – this gives us time to accurately register and name each movement and sensation as it happens.

This practice helps us to develop moment to moment concentration, weakening one of the main forces that drives anxiety: lack of focus.

  1. Curiosity of experience

By labelling and focusing on our experience, we begin to notice that our thoughts and feelings are not what lead to anxiety.

What leads to anxiety is our attitude towards the fact that we are having them.

Anxiety occurs when we struggle against our experience, either through pushing away or avoiding certain thoughts and feelings.

If we can find a way to accept that they are there, the struggle and, subsequently, the suffering associated with the anxiety will stop.

I’ve found that practicing curiosity is an effective way of accepting any thoughts or feelings that may appear.

If we are curious, we are not judging, reacting to or avoiding anything; we are simply allowing experiences to flow in and out at their own speed.

I have written more about the power of curiosity and how to use it in a previous blog, which I would encourage you to read.

I will be updating this blog every week with self-help for anxiety practices, so that you can begin breaking this cycle. Or you can head over here where I talk about some ways that you can continue this journey now.

Also, I’d be very happy to hear of any thoughts or questions you may have, so feel free to leave your comments below!

About the Author:

I am a fully qualified counsellor and psychotherapist in private practice in Dublin, Ireland. From my experience I have seen the transformative effects of an open-minded, non-judgemental therapeutic relationship and how it can help us to make useful and healthy changes to how we behave, think and feel about ourselves and our relationships with others. I hope you find some useful information here and feel free to contact me through my website.

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