I came across a novel treatment for anxiety on social media this week – custard creams under the duvet! I love this for its compassionate approach to the self, but there are other strategies out there for helping ourselves when our anxiety is triggered. Here are some that we recommend:
Getting outdoors: Go for a walk regularly, noticing the birds, flowers, trees, rain and sun and landscape. Research shows that trees actually give off chemicals which have a calming effect on humans.
Exercise of any kind: Doing the kind of exercise where your heart rate rises takes your mind into your body, stimulates ‘feel-good’ hormones and promotes physical rather than mental tiredness.
Relaxation: Relaxing does not have to mean doing nothing. Reading, sewing, drawing, doing puzzles etc all help distract and rest the mind from worry.
Breathing: Some people find it very helpful to simply notice their breathing and gently slow it down. You can count, breathing in for 3 and out for 3, or you can imagine breathing in calm and goodness and breathing out worry and stress.
Mindfulness: Rather than fighting our anxious thoughts we can try to accept them and let them flow over us like clouds passing over the sky. The aim is to be in the moment – if we are anxious in the moment we can choose to be kind to ourselves and accept the anxiety as it is. See the book Mindfulness – Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Prof Mark Williams, or the Headspace app.
A compassionate inner voice: If you are anxious something inside you is saying it needs more looking after. It’s therefore very important to care for yourself by eating enough and healthily, getting plenty of rest, avoiding draining people and situations and putting your own needs first. Say to yourself: ‘I am listening’.