It’s hard to believe that the 1st of January 2020 was just 3 months ago. What a year we have experienced so far, both here in Australia, and around the world. Faced with fires, floods and now a global pandemic leading to social isolation, job losses, businesses closing (both temporarily and permanently) and financial challenges. All resulting in panic, fear and most egregiously, anxiety.
Certainly, in most of our lifetimes, the stress and anxiety levels we have been feeling will not be anything we will have collectively experienced before. This is whole new territory. And whilst there is so much that is outside of our control, one thing we can do is focus on taking care of our mental health. And more specifically, our anxiety.
Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress, so it’s not at all surprising the levels have risen incredulously of late. However, for us to survive this ever-changing time of adversity, we must reduce the stress our body is responding to. Integrating these following strategies into our lives daily is one way to reduce our anxiety and increase our sense of peace and calm.
PRACTICE FOCUSED, DEEP BREATHING
Periodically throughout the day (a minimum of 6 times a day), stop what you are doing, and breath. Focused deep breathing will even out your breath, and slow your heart rate, calming your anxiety.
Follow the 5-3-5 technique, which is to breath in fully for 5, hold for 3, and breath out fully for 5. Doing this for up to 5 minutes at a time will calm the mind and emotional body and shift the nervous system from sympathetic (fight and flight) to parasympathetic (rest and relax).
QUESTION YOUR THOUGHT PATTERNS
When we experience anxiety, it means our thoughts are negative and in the future. With so many unknowns currently, our mind will unconsciously focus on the worry and fears about the future, increasing our stress levels.
However, we do not know what the future holds. We never have know, and that is as true today as it has ever been.
In order to shift from future negative based thoughts to calming present moment thoughts, we need to question our thought pattern. A great question to ask yourself is:
‘What thoughts do I want to be thinking in order to feel calm and peaceful NOW’?
Our mind is an incredible focusing organ, and when we give it direction, it seeks it out. It will begin to think about those things that are calming and peaceful, and your emotional response will reflect those thoughts.
Movement allows you to focus on your body and not your mind. Go for a short walk, do some yoga or exercise movements, stand and stretch your body.
Bring your attention fully into your body and notice the sensations of your body as you move. Allow the movement to relax and soften any tension or tightness, lowering your anxiety. Do this for a minimum of 15 minutes, twice a day (morning and evening)
Writing down what is in your head is a great way to release what you are holding onto. The physical act of writing allows the intensity of your thoughts to calm, giving you a sense of relief, and helping you gain a new perspective on your situation.
Once you have written everything down, focus on one thing that you have control around, and disregard the rest.
Spend a minimum of 5 minutes each day with your feet on the ground, breathing in fresh air, and bringing your attention to the present moment of NOW.
As you are grounding say 10 ‘I AM’ statements either out loud or in your mind.
Integrating these strategies into your life will not remove anxiety completely. However, they will reduce the amount of anxiety you experience. And over time, with focus and dedication, will increase your levels of calmness and peace, helping you to respond in healthier ways when dealing with what is now our new reality.
With Infinite Love