Top 5 things to do when anxiety hits

Anxiety has been with us since the birth of man yet we seem to be feeling the effects of it much more recently. Whether it's due to our moving more away from our ancestral hunting and gathering or the drastic shift in what is considered normal these days, anxiety is a real issue.

So here are the Top 5 things to do when you feel anxiety strike!

Stop. Yes, stop what you are doing, right now. If you are in a situation that is causing it remove yourself for a moment; if you are driving or operating machinery then park up, make it safe and step away for a moment. Giving yourself some space when anxiety strikes is the quickest way to stop it escalating and will help you manage its de-escalation.

Breathe. I know you do it all the time but this time really focus on it. That movement of air past your lips or through your nose, deep into your lungs, expanding your chest and pushing out your diaphragm. There are several breathing techniques such as the 7/11 or the 4/7/8. If you know these then great, if not it doesn't matter, just focus on the air moving into and out of your body. This will start to remove the other thoughts that are causing the anxiety to start and also remind you that you are still alive and in control of something!

Ask yourself the question - Is there really something to be worried about? It may sound like an obvious question but often our anxiety can be caused by the smallest of triggers which manifest in places where there is no need to be worried. By asking the question to yourself you can begin to engage the intellectual brain and analyse the situation rather than being a slave to the emotions. It can also be useful to help you recognise that you may be in a situation where there is a cause or reason for you to be anxious. If this is the case then you can begin to find solutions.

Analyse the answer to the question and any others that are asked at the time such as why am I feeling this way or what is this feeling trying to get me to do or avoid. When you are in a safe place try to reflect on what the answers may be. It could be something irrational that from a distance you can recognise as such, this will begin to override the trigger next time it starts. It is also a good way of actually recognising things that are a problem and creating this feeling inside you for good reason. Here you can begin to look for solutions and ways to not feel that way in the future.

Lastly, test your thinking. It's all well and good coming up with answers but unless you test them you won't know for sure. If stepping outside the house suddenly feels like the worst decision ever and your analysis is that you have manifested a fear that you will become deathly ill or that you find all the changes so different that you won't be able to cope, fine. But the next step is to find out if this is based in any reality or not. The first thing you can do to test this is to look back and see if this has ever been the case for you before. If so then what did you do to solve it then? When were the exceptions that allowed you to go out anyway? Then you can do the same as before or at least remember the times when you were stronger and had the power to overcome the issue. If you can't find any historical references then this should give you some courage that it will unlikely happen, so go and find out. If there really is an issue then by testing it, you can really drill down to what the problem actually is, what actually is causing this. Then you have a much better chance of finding that solution.