It was when I became a Mum that I first felt real anxiety.
Until then I'd felt stressed with work and overwhelmed by having tons of things to do as a busy working woman. But I wouldn't say that was anxiety.
When I became a Mum I felt such a huge sense of responsibility. I was so concerned about being fully responsible for such a precious little bundle. It felt like it was all on me and that this was something I absolutely could not mess up!
That was when I'd say I first experienced Anxiety.
And Oh My! It's so hard to feel this way! It's exhausting!
"Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.
However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily life."
Belinda of @flourishingmother and I discussed anxiety on a zoom call which was streamed into her FB group live. I talked through the following 5 tips.
5 ways to Calm your Anxiety
1. Acknowledge your feelings
It's really important to 'name it to tame it' and treat yourself with kindness and compassion so you can turn down the dial on how you're feeling.
Focus on slowing down your breathing.
Say an affirmation or a mantra in a calm, firm voice such as
It's OK, you're safe and you've got this."
Or 'I see you/ hear you but I don't believe you. I'm OK'
This reminds you that you can and will move through this feeling.
Belinda mentioned she visualises protective armour that covers where she feels her anxiety in her chest and it holding and comforting her.
2. Get curious with your Anxiety
Writing down what's going on for you and worrying you helps you distance yourself from it and gain a new perspective.
Coaching helps you because we don't swoop in and rescue you. We help you find your own strength to move through it and you can coach yourself by thinking about what you would say and how you would talk to a good friend.
Scenario planning, when you're feeling calmer, can really help you to know what you'd do if your particular fears and worries come true. Having options of what to do in particular situations that scare you is really comforting.
3. Movement helps anxiety
Moving through your anxiety in the moment reduces your threat receptors.
Exercise as a regular routine is a proven way to reduce anxiety too.
Dance, Stretch, Sway, Star jump. Get out for a walk or a run in nature.
Whatever helps to distract you and feel calmer.
Cold water therapy is another proven method to reduce anxiety which Belinda mentioned she is trying. Anxiety often comes with an increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Exposure to cold water lowers the heart rate, which makes you feel calmer and therefore less anxious.
4. Remember: Thoughts are not Facts
Your thoughts are guesses, stories, memories, ideas and theories. Sharing them and talking them through to process them and reframe them helps a lot.
You can reframe risks to challenges to help you reduce your anxiety.
Deciding you are capable also means you will find it easier to cope. Keep telling yourself that you can do it. And when you have evidence of times that you have done it, you can look back on them and feel proud and certain that you can do it again.
'What if' thoughts are are helpful too.
Ask yourself "What would I do if that thought were true?" Ask yourself 3 times.
I used the example of managing to go out cycling on my own.
Would it be hard or scary - yes!
Would I survive? Very likely yes!
And the more you feel the fear and face it and acknowledge it the better it is for getting over it.
5. Remember that Anxiety is not who you are!
It's important to remember that you are not your thoughts. It's how we act that matters. Think of intrusive thoughts as tabs on your browser. You can close them down, You can let them go and know you're OK despite the fact that you have them.
Make fun of your anxious thoughts.
Sing them in a silly voice, name them as a character, Little Miss Meanie or Anxious Annie. This distances you from them and takes away their power and gives the power to you instead.
Focus on what you do want rather than what you don't want
Put your positive thoughts into action as being goal driven rather than mood driven is powerful. It gives you control and an optimistic mindset.
It is normal to have anxiety so know that you are not alone, that we all feel it to varying degrees.
Please note: Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, and these tips can help, you should see your GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or is causing you distress. Coaching is not therapy and counselling or other help recommended by your GP is available so please don't go it alone.
I hope these tips help you if you are struggling and also help you seek support from a coach, therapist, counsellor or your GP if you feel you need it.
Wishing you all the best,
You can watch the conversation Belinda and I had live in her FB group here
You can download my Master your Mum Mojo free guide here