Everyone has anxiety sometimes. Anxiety is a normal and helpful part of being human. If you struggle with anxiety you may be surprised to hear me use the term “helpful”. A level of anxiety is essential to keep us alert and safe; it’s there to protect us not to harm us. We need some level of anxiety to do simple things like cross the road safely. Being slightly anxious before a test or performance can motivate you to prepare fully so that you can perform at your best.
Anxiety becomes a problem when it takes over our lives and hinders us from doing what we need to do or takes away our enjoyment of life. While physical problems such as a thyroid disorder can cause some anxiety symptoms, for most people excess anxiety is caused by thought processes. We feel the way we think. So when we unconsciously learn to think in a negative way, it causes negative feelings and emotions too.
Once you start to understand anxiety, it’s great news. It means that you can learn to control your anxiety by learning to understand and change your thought processes. Some simple self-help techniques can allow you to get a handle on your anxiety.
Here is a simple technique that can help you to immediately feel less anxious.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Breathe slowly and deeply; now, visualise an incident in your life when you felt safe, calm and happy. Make the image vivid and as if you’re looking out of your own eyes. Imagine the colours, the sounds, the smells and the physical feelings of relaxation. If you can’t think of an incident from your own life, try putting yourself into a happy movie scene or imagining what it would be like to be completely calm, safe and happy.
When you do this exercise, your mind can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. As a result your brain reacts as if the incident is actually happening now; your body will respond with the relaxation response and you will feel less anxious.
If your anxiety is overwhelming and taking over your life you may need to seek professional help from your GP and/or a trained therapist.