Ways to Manage Anxiety
July 2023, 5 min read
We all experience anxiety from time to time. It's like that uninvited party guest who just won't leave, no matter how many hints you drop. But what if you don’t have to make it leave? What if, armed with the right tools, you can change your relationship with anxiety, and keep it from crashing your party even when it does show up? In this article, we'll explore what anxiety is, why it shows up, and you'll also develop some ways to manage its symptoms.
What is Anxiety?
We know this sounds odd, but trust us when we say anxiety actually means well for us - but it can be a bit too much sometimes. It's a natural response to stress, and in small doses, it can actually be helpful – like when it reminds you to double-check that you've turned off the stove before leaving the house. However, when anxiety starts showing up debilitatingly often and getting in the way of your daily life, that's when it becomes a problem.
Why Does Anxiety Show Up?
Think of anxiety like a smoke alarm – it's designed to alert you to potential dangers. But sometimes, it goes off even when there's no fire. This is partly to do with the fact that many of the “fires” we face day to day are intangible and hard to perceive - did your boss ignore you in the elevator today, or were they just too busy looking at their phone that they genuinely didn’t see you? Various factors can trigger anxiety, including:
Genetics: Sometimes anxiety can be passed down through the family tree.
Brain chemistry: Occasionally, our brains like to play tricks on us, causing an imbalance in the chemicals responsible for mood regulation.
Life experiences: Tough times, such as trauma or chronic stress, can make anxiety more likely to pop up.
Practical Ways to Manage Anxiety
Learning to manage anxiety involves a combination of practical techniques and mental exercises that can help you stay grounded and in control. Let's explore some of these strategies in more detail.
Coming back to the present moment:
There is a safe place that shelters you from anxious thoughts about the future. That place, is the present moment. Here are some ways to come back to the present moment when you feel yourself getting swept up by negative ruminations:
The 5-4-3-2-1 technique: This simple grounding exercise engages your five senses to bring your mind back to the present and away from negative thoughts. Identify five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. You see, your mind has finite attentional resources, and by giving yourself this “task” of coming to the present moment your brain loses its attention in anxiety, breaking its grip.
Mindful breathing: Focus on your breath, and pay attention to the sensation of the air entering and leaving your body. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath. This practice not only helps calm your nerves but also trains your mind to stay present.
Mindfully distancing yourself from your thoughts:
Instead of getting caught up in the whirlwind of your thoughts, try taking a step back and observing them from a distance. This can help you gain a fresh perspective and minimize the power that anxious thoughts hold over you. Here are a couple of ways to create some space between you and your thoughts:
Thought labeling: Recognize and label your thoughts as they arise. For example, if you notice you're worried about an upcoming event, simply label it as "worry" and let it pass. This helps you create some distance between you and your anxious thoughts.
Visualization: Picture your thoughts as leaves floating down a stream or clouds passing by in the sky. This way, you can observe your thoughts without getting too attached to them. It's like being an impartial audience member at the theater of your own mind.
Ways to release anxiety:
Sometimes, the best way to deal with anxiety is to let it out through physical or mental release. By engaging in activities that help you relax and unwind, you can effectively manage your anxiety and prevent it from taking over your life. Here are a few methods to help you release anxiety:
Progressive muscle relaxation: Tense and relax each muscle group in your body, starting from your toes and working your way up to your head. This helps release tension and stress, making you feel more relaxed and in control.
Mindful physical activity: Engage in regular exercise, such as walking. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals. Plus, it's a great way to burn off some of that nervous energy. Try to pay close attention to how your body feels during your activity. Mindfully observe the sensations involved. Your body is like a finely-tuned instrument, and when anxiety strikes, it can send all sorts of signals that something's not quite right. By developing a strong body-mind connection, you can become more in tune with these signals, which can act as an early warning system against the physical symptoms of anxiety. So, listen to your body – it's smarter than you might think!
Try Mindway: Mindway offers a variety of interactive mindfulness meditation journeys, including ones specifically designed to help manage anxiety. If you’ve been liking what you’re reading but it sounds difficult in practice, then Mindway’s VR wellbeing platform makes it easy to isolate yourself from the outside world, focus on the present moment and develop healthy coping strategies for your anxiety through meditation.
Introducing Mindway: Your Anxiety-Busting Sidekick
When it comes to managing anxiety, having a trusty sidekick can make all the difference. That's where Mindway comes in! With a wealth of features designed to boost your overall wellbeing, Mindway can help you strengthen that body-mind connection and develop the skills you need to keep anxiety in check.
From mindfulness meditation journeys that focus on stress management and self-love, to immersive ASMR worlds that help you unwind, Mindway has got your back. So why not give it a try? It might just become your new favorite tool for dealing with anxiety.
Anxiety doesn't have to rule your life. With a bit of understanding, some practical tools, and a dash of persistence, you can learn to manage its symptoms and take back control. Give Mindway a try and see how it can support you on your journey to conquering anxiety. After all, it's always better to have a trusty sidekick by your side.
Remember, you don't have to face anxiety alone. Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for support, and don't be afraid to try new strategies like Mindway to help you on your path to better mental health.