Nobody wants to feel anxious. In fact, as soon as it rears it’s head we want it gone immediately, or even better, for it never to come.
We try to paper over anxiety by any means possible. We stay busy, we mainline Prosecco, we binge on reality TV or we buy up half the stock on ASOS. Sadly, anxiety will continue to knock at your door until you realise that it’s not, in fact, an enemy that you need to cast out, but a friend. It’s actually the best kind of friend — one bearing gifts!
As the author of The Anxiety Solution: a Quieter Mind, a Calmer You, I learnt a lot about dealing with anxiety.
What is anxiety trying to teach you?
Emotions are there for a reason; they’re letting us know what our needs are. And if you listen, it’s going to let you know exactly what to do to heal your anxiety and bring your mind and body back into balance. Ask yourself what does this anxiety want me to do, change or heal?
1) Switch up your priorities
So many of us have gotten our priorities all wrong. We chase after goals — that pay rise, a partner, a house deposit — hoping that when we reach these goals, we’ll finally be happy. But the reality is that there is no guarantee that reaching our external goals gives us the satisfaction and happiness we crave. In the frenzied pursuit of them, we can make ourselves miserable and anxious.
2) Prioritise how you want to feel NOW.
For me, work used to be my priority and I hoped success would make me happy. These days, peace of mind and wellbeing are what I’m aiming for and I organise my life around that instead. Strangely, success has come more easily too since I made that decision. How do you want to feel now, and what do you need to do to create that feeling?
3) Take Control of Your Reaction
Life is full of stuff that is outside of our control. Your boss is a dick, house prices are soaring, you get ghosted on Tinder and people walk in front of you really, really slowly (it’s as if they’re doing it on purpose!).
This is stuff you cannot change.
But one thing you do have control over is your response to that stuff. One of the best ways to change the way you respond to things is to upgrade your brains hardware; by meditating. Meditation is not simply some airy-fairy relaxation technique.
It changes your brain to make you happier and calmer; shrinking your amygdala (that’s the bit that gets you all in fight or flight mode) and growing more grey matter in the front of your brain (hello emotional reasoning!).
The evidence to support meditation is overwhelming — I’d say if you’re anxious, it’s essential. Try listening to a guided meditation, downloading the Headspace app or learning Transcendental Meditation from a trained teacher.
You can also get a FREE relaxation MP3 when you visit www.calmer-you.com/free.