If you are living with anxiety day to day, I wonder how in control of your thoughts do you feel? Is it that your mind is bouncing between the past and the present? From my personal encounters with anxiety, I remember how all I wanted in any one moment of panic was to stop thoughts leaping and spiraling?
Perhaps you can relate to this feeling?
When this happens, it’s difficult to keep yourself securely rooted in the present. Your mind floods with self-doubt and fear, and you frantically search for an answer based on how you handled something in the past. Your mind operates this way because it is using past experiences to find out how you might help yourself right now… but then of course, your mind is already racing into the future fearing all the what if’s scenarios which your very furtive imagination is creating.
How familiar are you I wonder with that feeling of wanting your mind to just be present; to get away from that overwhelming anxious feeling that is yelling at you “Stop the world I want to get off?!”
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So how can you help yourself to be more present and to calmly confront anxiety?
The trick is to learn some strategies to ground yourself in the present time.
With anxiety, your mind is either re-traumatising yourself with past events and/or worrying about what might happen in the future. This means you are not living or thinking in the present moment. You must learn to keep your focus in the present moment. Here’s how…
- Make sure both your feet are on the floor. This will instantly help to stabilize you. You can even get your mind’s attention by stamping your feet on the ground. It will interrupt your train of thought and literally root you to the ground in that moment.
- Focus on your breathing. Your breath is happening right now in the present time. Notice how when you feel anxious, your breathing is very shallow and quicker. You breathe from your chest in fight-flight response. Channel your breath further down to your diaphragm by practicing belly breathing. Follow your breath as you breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8.
- Use your senses to really tune in to how you are experiencing your surroundings. Take a moment to really focus on each of your senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing, sight) bringing your awareness into your immediate environment… focus on the details you see in the room you are in, or perhaps the detailing of furnishings; pay attention to the sounds you hear around you like people chatting, the music playing or the cars whizzing by; the taste of anything you are eating; the smell of the air, even how it feels to be sitting in the chair you are in or how your feet feel inside your shoes as you walk. You get the idea.
- Own your feelings in the present moment by saying to yourself.. Right now, I am feeling upset and what I really need right now is to go for a walk, or to get a cup of tea, or to ground myself.
- Choose to tell yourself something (anything) positive in that moment beginning with the words… Right now, I am… You can use affirmations like “Right now I am learning to create new ways to feel better about myself” or “Right now I am focussing on keeping my attention where it needs to be.”
- Remind yourself that the past is over and whatever happened is not happening now. Talk to your younger self and reassure her that she doesn’t live there now. She lives here with you now.
- Realise that by worrying about the future, you are simply creating an expectation in your mind based on fear. You are creating a movie in your mind and scaring yourself, but it isn’t real. Choose instead to give your mind more positive expectations by creating a nicer picture that you can anticipate in a more positive and happier way.
The power is always in the present moment. Learn to direct your mind to be present and you will begin to feel more powerful within your own mind.
If you’d like more support specific to your particular situation, don’t hesitate to get in touch. It will be my pleasure to help you.
With love and light
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Lisa Skeffington – Anxiety Expert, Anxiety Help Bournemouth & Ringwood