Calming the Anxious Mind
Ways to Reduce Challenging Emotions
Anxiety is a common emotion, from time to time all of us will feel anxious for a variety of reasons, work, relationships, sometimes waiting for a big event, to name just a few reasons. However many of us are feeling more and more anxious on a regular basis.
Given our current circumstances, lockdown, high case numbers and economic difficulties, many of the things that we were looking forward to possibly returning to in 2021 seem further away than ever. This is a mental struggle for all of us regardless of our circumstances, and the more we focus on the difficulties surrounding us the more anxious we become.
Although feeling anxious is a difficult emotion there are a number of things that we can do to help reduce the effects it has on us.
Disconnecting Psychologically from Work
Many of us are guilty of bringing our work home with us, however this is even more challenging at the moment. With so many of us working from home, it has become even more difficult to disconnect psychologically form our jobs.
In order to maintain work life balance it’s important to find ways to disconnect from work at the end of the day. Ideally having a separate work space at home will create a boundary between work and home. However if that’s not possible clearing your workspace at the end of each day will help. Tidying away work equipment will create a psychological boundary and create distance between work and home routines.
Creating these boundaries allow us to switch off mentally, if we create a work space that is in view during our down time the anxieties that can come with our professional lives will follow us after we log off for the day.
Getting active is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Physical exercise is the most often used activity however there are many other ways that we can get active, such as:
- Helping someone else. Helping someone not only gives us the boost of knowing that we have made a difference in someone else’s life but it also creates empathy for others. This allows us to see the bigger picture and break the cycle of our own negative self-talk.
- Write: Putting our thoughts and feeling about our lives on a page can be a daunting task and difficult to begin. However journaling has been proven to improve our overall wellbeing and helps us overcome challenging emotions such as anxiety. By writing as clearly as possible what we are thinking and feeling allows us to gain perspective and look at what we are experiencing from different angles.
Taking time out for self-care is important regardless of the situation we currently find ourselves in. Lockdown can be intense and even taking a few minutes to yourself can make a huge difference.
There are many examples of things we can do to help reduce our anxiety:
- Meditation: This can take many forms such as mindfulness or yoga. It’s important to find what works best for you. Breathing for even 20 seconds can help to calm our minds and nervous systems.
- Positive self-talk: Without realising it, many of us spend a lot of our time criticising ourselves throughout the day. Taking time to catch negative self-talk and changing the narrative to a more positive or realistic story about ourselves will help us gain some perspective and give ourselves a break.
- Notice Feelings: It is important that we notice how we are feeling, if we are feeling anxious for example it’s important to acknowledge it rather than pushing through or distracting ourselves through work, or social media.
When we are going through difficult times it can be hard to try new ways of taking care of ourselves. Our energy and motivation is low and at the end of the day it can be tempting to do what we have always done, eat watch TV, scroll through social media, repeat.
To make a positive change, start small, try making a new meal, going for a walk in a new place, plan a surprise for someone. Anything that will make our daily routine a little more interesting will break the cycle of anxiety and help us persevere through these difficult times.