Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Thoughts are not facts, but nonetheless thoughts have a way of hijacking experiences, convincing us that life is stressful. Add uncertainty to the equation and life begins to feel incredibly out of control. Anxiety can quickly turn to distress, limiting your ability to problem solve, limiting your ability to care for your physical body and it can even lead to you to withdrawing socially. All of these things can result in frustration, exhaustion, confusion, and unfulfillment.
Anxiety can be crippling, hijacking your mind all the while creating substantial stress. But, you get to decide whether or not to react. Uncertainty fuels anxiety but there are ways to overcome your anxiety and navigate uncertainty.
What are you certain about?
The present moment is filled with gifts and even when the present moment is challenging, or uncertain, there are always truths in life to latch on to. Anxiety is undoubtedly disruptive but you can always remind yourself of what you know to be true. Simply looking around the room and naming ten or so things you see grounds you by stimulating your senses. When you are connected to your senses you are all of a sudden more connected to your body. Practicing observation of the present moment can feel comforting in challenging times.
Stress is an inevitable part of life, and when stress arises, or anxiety surfaces, resistance is a normal reaction. Your anxiety tries to protect you, and sometimes gets it wrong. Pushing a feeling away tends to perpetuate negative feelings, and sometimes the stressful feelings come back stronger than before.
Finding acceptance is a key to navigating stress and anxiety. Stress is impossible to get rid of but instead of trying to get rid of stress as quickly as possible, lean in. Remind yourself that everything is impermanent, and that your anxiety will eventually lessen.
Breathing exercises are a tried and true way to battle stress and anxiety. Your breath will help you reconnect to your body as well as the present moment. If you are not successful at finding a breathing exercise that helps alleviate your anxiety, moving your body or getting out in nature can be very helpful.
Journaling not only helps you organize your thoughts, it can help you realize your own patterns. What triggers your anxiety? Take note of your thoughts and what is happening around you. This not only helps you realize your patterns, but also your triggers.
Here are a few other questions to answer that can bring you back to reality:
How bad would it be if said thought actually happened?
How would I cope if my thought actually occurred?
Irrational thoughts can become so deeply ingrained that you become unconsciously anxious. Naming your thoughts helps counteract them, and gives you space to check your own exaggeration, create space for you to heal.
The real takeaway here is this-- be compassionate and kind to yourself. Be mindful, be accepting and counteract anxious thoughts with kind words. Remind yourself, you will be okay, and make self-compassion a regular part of your life.