Anxiety is defined as the feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. The funny thing about that definition is that it sums up all those emotions you are usually feeling into just three words. I have been an extremely anxious person most of my life. The thing about anxiety is that it activates the human primal instinct which is ‘fight or flight’ even when there is no real threat. This is a response to a stimulus in your body that thinks you are in danger. At that moment, your body feels like it wants to shut down or run away. This response normally leads to either an anxiety or panic attack. It is normal to feel nervous or scared in unfamiliar territory. However, people who are more anxious than normal experience a lot of anxiety and panic attacks which are very disruptive. Managing anxiety is the key to being free from it.
Remind yourself that you are okay
This may seem like a very small task but it is very important. Your body will continuously be in a defensive mode until it feels there is no threat. That means your heart rate will be elevated, you will be sweating and your hands may be shaking. You need to remind yourself that you are fine and not in any imminent danger. As you begin to calm down, think about the situation more carefully. For example, if it is a speech you are about to give, ask yourself what is the worst that can happen and what would happen if it did happen. Once your mind internalizes the worst-case scenario and realizes that it is not that bad, your body starts to relax.
Accept that you cannot control everything.
The word ‘control-freak’ is used to describe someone who feels the need to control everything little thing down to the last detail. Most people who suffer from anxiety are control freaks. They want to ensure that things go their way. So when they are confronted with a situation where they do not have control or do not know the outcome, they panic. Learn to live life knowing that you cannot control every little thing in your life or other people’s life. It does not matter how hard you try. Once you get accustomed to this idea, an excess worry of things which are beyond your control becomes a thing of the past. Going through life with an open mind helps manage anxiety efficiently.
Find a distraction
You may be seated somewhere and then all of a sudden you are engulfed by a feeling of worry about something you cannot quite point out. Trying to figure it out at the moment will only make things worse. Instead, engage your mind in an activity, preferably something you enjoy that relaxes you. You can listen to music, a podcast, dance around a little, or talk to a friend about random things. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to get stuck in your head. This is also a great technique when you are about to present something or go to a big gathering.
Find Out What Makes You Tick
Often you will realize that the things that make you anxious are connected to your personality. For example, shy people get anxious in social gatherings. Finding out what makes you tick beforehand helps you deal with the situation better. If it is a presentation you are giving, ensure that you are prepared. You may still be anxious but it is better than showing up unprepared.
Learn To accept it
It is important to accept that you are an anxious person. Running away or pretending that it doesn’t exist does not fix things. It is like ignoring a problem and expecting it to disappear. It may cause you to have fear but if you fear anxiety that fear can actually make your anxiety worse. You basically get stuck in a loop where one thing causes the other. Talk about it openly, and don’t try to hide it when it bugs you. The more you talk about it, the easier it will be for you to overcome it.