As two counsellors based in Manitoba, Deandra and Karli are helping people manage anxiety, which is your body’s natural response to stress.
While there are many different forms of anxiety, the impact it can have on your daily life can be debilitating no matter how anxiety presents itself as. Anxiety can range from panic, generalized anxiety, social and separation anxiety to phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Even though anxiety is seen to impact the mind, it can often have physical effects. Common effects are an increase in heart rate, feeling light-headed or nauseous; sweaty, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, fatigue; and headaches, and muscle tension or pain.
The physical responses are also your body’s way of responding to stress, meaning it is alerting you to the threats and how to deal with them. In short, anxiety can be incredibly debilitating, but acknowledging it and having self-awareness of what is going on can help you manage it when it presents itself.
Here are five self-awareness tools to help with anxiety
Build Self Awareness
Specific situations or actions that lead to you feeling stressed are triggers. They can worsen your symptoms to the point where you can have a panic attack. Triggers can include both internal factors — such as underlying medical conditions — and external factors such as live events.
Triggers are unique for each person and won’t be the same for everyone, but there are ways you can recognize your triggers so that you can learn how to manage them. These include keeping a journal, identifying major stressors, reflecting on experiences, talking to someone, and listening to your body.
Getting outside is one of the best ways to regulate your nervous system and reduce anxiety. Breathing in the fresh air and changing your physical environment can help reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety. It also helps to shift the mind if you are feeling stuck in a certain pattern of thoughts.
Move Your Body
Sometimes it can be helpful to think about anxiety as trapped energy in the body with nowhere to go. Moving your body in a reasonable way, such as walking, yoga, biking, Tai chi, swimming, and hiking is a great tool for managing anxiety in the moment and on a longer-term basis.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your awareness to the present moment. You can do this in meditation, but it can also be done throughout the day. Often when we are experiencing anxiety we are thinking about things that are not happening at the moment. We are anticipating a future scenario, or we are replaying situations from the past. With mindfulness, we are calling ourselves to the present moment and focusing on what is right in front of us. This can help redirect your mind and over time can help you to take space from your anxious thoughts. Mindfulness can be facilitated by certain activities such as colouring, playing music, puzzles, cooking, etc. Any activity you can redirect your attention to, over and over again.
Often times anxiety shows up when there is something deeper going on. Before accessing counselling, journaling can help you gain some insight into this. Yes, it’s true, the anxious thoughts we have often don’t make any sense, and it’s best not to listen to them. However, when anxiety shows up, it’s often about something other than the thoughts we are having. Spending time taking note and writing about your anxiety, as well as the stress in your life, will help create space for you to see your experiencing head-on.
Journaling is private for you. Being honest and upfront about yourself will help you understand what is really going on for you emotionally. In the process of free handwriting, not only are we able to brain dump some of the irrational thoughts that are coming up, but you can also gain some self-awareness around what is really bothering you and what are some helpful steps forward.
You are welcome to access our free resources to learn more about podcasts, other websites, and organizations dedicated to helping you with your anxiety. Book a free 15 minute consultation with the counsellors at Grit & Growth Wellness by clicking here.