Regardless of COVID-19, anxiety has always been an issue in the world. We all struggle at some stage in our lives. I guarantee that if everyone does a psychological test, we will all fail, and it will show that we are all slightly anxious. Fear of the future is OK, otherwise we would all be dead by now. However, in moments of crisis or moments of challenge it is beneficial to learn from our anxiety. Below are eight strategies to deal with anxiety:
1. Pay attention to your breathing
Slow down your breathing deliberately and take note of when you are inhaling and exhaling. Do you spend more time inhaling or exhaling? Only those who are aware of their breathing have them balanced and in harmony. It’s time for you to learn for yourself.
Another breathing technique is spending four seconds inhaling, four seconds holding your breath, and four seconds exhaling. It calms the system, and the blood circulates from your brain to your chest, moving healthy energy through your body.
2. Stay in the present moment
It is important to be in the present moment, noticing your feelings and what is going on around you. Try to always be in a meditative state. When we are present, fear and anxiety are not. The breathing techniques help you to always be in the present moment.
3. Cultivate a healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, spending quality time with your family and friends, and spending time in nature. All this reduces anxiety and makes you feel good about yourself. Take it easy with the caffeine – I love my coffee, but I only have one each day due to my own anxiety levels.
4. Be kind to yourself
Do you love yourself? Really? Most often in my private practice the answer is ‘no, I don’t love myself. I’ve never thought this way.’
I have spoken previously about meeting yourself. If you met yourself, would you spend time with yourself? How would that be? Self-kindness is essential to living an authentic life. You can only give what you have. If you can’t be kind to yourself, how can you be kind to others?
5. Challenge your self-talk:
Try to forget about worst-case scenarios and instead try to look for unusual scenarios. But avoid too obvious ones. Look for different interpretations and viewpoints. An example is ‘love is war’. At first, love is not war – at least during the first two years of being in love. When the relationship becomes more serious and years pass by, ‘love’ becomes something hard and difficult. It becomes ‘war’. Love demands self-surrender and that is not comfortable. Love demands us to work more on ourselves and inner development. Long-term relationships, marriage or true love are not for the faint hearted.
6. Plan worry time
It’s OK to be anxious. Set a specific time to indulge your worries, and journal about it. This action will give you self-discipline and will establish a healthy routine for your mind and feelings.
7. Get to know your anxiety
Ask yourself this question: What is your anxiety trying to teach you? Treat your anxiety with kindness and develop a healthy relationship with it. You have no idea how much you can learn from it.
8. Take small acts of bravery
We only learn by doing. We must get out of our comfort zone to grow. This means face our anxiety with bravery. Do it, but do it with gentleness and kindness, remembering that your anxiety is your friend and is trying to teach you something valuable. Be attentive to it, but keep moving, according to your personal limitations.
Treat your anxiety like a loved one. It is a part of yourself that needs to be nurtured and cared for. Challenge it with respect and kindness. And, develop a strong and healthy relationship with it. You will grow from it.
I, Felipe Oliveira, am a registered counsellor for men seeking to live an authentic life. I also run the Mental Health Business Program that lasts the whole year with a focus on work-life balance. To learn more about my work, head to www.counsellingmenbrisbane.com.au