You know that feeling when you have a million and one things to do and barely any time to do them in? I think we all do. I could be having a productive day and then, my overactive mind decides to go into overdrive mode, and anxiety kicks in. The rest of the day is spent in a state of stress and overwhelming thoughts — but what has changed to cause this? Usually nothing. Usually, I’m doing great, and then it all just kicks in.
So, the panic settles in and my world implodes, but how do I handle it?
Write a list of what you’re grateful for.
Anxiety fills your mind with all the negative thoughts it can conjure up, so writing a list from a place of gratitude can help refocus the mind. Your list is completely personal to you so write whatever you feel grateful for at that moment, however big or small it seems. It could be gratitude for the friends and family around you or your latest great achievement.
Speak to people
In moments that seem overwhelming, it can be easy to turn off your phone or lock yourself away to shut out the people around you but the facts are that you need them. Confiding in someone that you trust allows you to offload all your negative thoughts and make room for the positive ones — they don’t need to offer any advice or guidance, all they need to do is listen.
It’s also equally important to let people help you — whether that’s by speaking to a counsellor about your thoughts, by speaking to your boss about how your work-life could be made easier or by asking for deadline extensions at school.
Do things that make you happy.
Replacing all the negative thoughts with ones of positivity can seem like a huge challenge amidst all the emotions. Take some time out of your day to do something that makes you happy, that will calm your thoughts down and help you to refocus. For me, I turn my phone off and head out for a walk — being amongst nature is a great way of relaxing for me, especially during a time where socialising is the last thing I want to do. You may have a completely different happy place so choose whatever works for you.
Know that it won’t last.
If you suffer from anxiety, then the likelihood is that you can relate to the experiences that I’m talking about and they’ve become part of your life. But if you can relate to the difficult aspects of anxiety then you can also relate to the fact that these feelings don’t last forever and eventually they will just drift away. So remind yourself every time you are faced with the overwhelming stress and emotions that you’ve got through it before and you can again.
Grounding is such a simple technique for those experiencing anxiety with the aim being to refocus the mind to the present moment and allow all the negative thoughts to drift away. In your head, make a list of five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one good thing about yourself. Acknowledging the world around you will help you to rejoin the present moment and will also distract you from the overwhelming thoughts.
At the start, I asked if anything had changed to cause these emotions and the answer is no. More often than not your life doesn’t change at all, what changes is your perspective on life, and the methods laid out above will help you to regain a positive perspective.
My final piece of advice is not to ignore your progress. Remember how well you’re doing and the achievements you have made — be proud of yourself and remember that all the negative emotions will pass in time.
“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming” — Robert Tew