Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were all immune to the stresses of life, happily protected by an impenetrable force field of zen- like calm. In this alternative universe, I laugh giddily when the plane shudders with severe turbulence, respond promptly and assertively to omnious emails and remain diligently committed to the present moment.
Sadly, for many of us, our anxiety- free alter egos stay firmly in the realms of fantasy. While it’s a well known fact that fear and anxiety is there to protect us, most of us are not in the wild anymore. We’re in offices, trains, shops, and it can be difficult when the going gets tough to simply rise above it all.
Furthermore, we’re not often in situations where we can run for the hills or go hand to hand with an overly aggressive co – worker. It can be difficult to retain masses of detailed information or remember chapters of an entire self – help book on combating anxiety. So here are a few simple things I do to calm down when I start to go off the boil.
1.Look Around You
Honestly, just look around. Past the partner you’re arguing with at 3 in the morning, away from the nasty inbox or text messages. Anything you can do to expand your attention to your present surroundings will help you see that even though your mind believes its in danger, you are safe. Look at the four walls around you which are stable and not caving in. Look out the window, up at sky, even if its raining. You are OK.
I’m not here to teach you a complicated method from Wim Hof (although that guy is seriously cool). I’m just saying that stopping, breathing in for the count of 7 and breathing out for the count of 11 will calm your body down and guess what, in the same way the mind can get the body wound up, the body can calm the mind down.
I know I’ve said it’s difficult in today’s modern world to run away, but there is a widely recognized convention in most cultures to respect an individual’s need to go to the toilet. So even if you’re in a meeting or in the middle of a difficult conversation, say you need the bathroom. Go to it, give yourself as much time as you need, and only then think about going back to the situation you were in, hopefully with a renewed perspective.
4. Tell Someone
While mental health is still not as widely recognized as being just as important as physical health, we’re getting there, folks. Even if you feel weird, it’s totally OK to tell someone, even a co – worker, that you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. While some people still might not get it, it helps to vocalize the physical symptoms that accompany anxiety if you need support. Most people will understand if you tell them you’re feeling weak or dizzy, and that you’d appreciate taking 5 minutes or a glass of cold water.
5.Take Time To Recover
Often out of impatience or frustration, we can try to force ourselves to bounce back a little too quickly. Anxiety and panic attacks take their toll on the body. Be kind to yourself. Accept the situation, that you have become overwhelmed, and take special care of yourself for the next few days. Your body and mind will settle and appreciate it.