I’ve been there, I know how it feels: your heart races, you feel sick, you find yourself over-checking and overthinking everything, unwilling to try something new in case it might go wrong.
So here are a few pointers on how to deal with those feelings when they strike, and how to manage your anxiety. These tips are gentle actions that you can do yourself, that won’t make you feel like you’re stepping off a cliff into the unknown!
Work out what is making you nervous
When you find yourself awake in the middle of the night in a panic, try to take your time to think about everything that's going on in your life. Often it’s just a few normal things that have built up to the point where they're stressing you out. Just realising what they are can help you acknowledge that they aren’t really worth all that stress at all, or can help you identify a solution.
Write it down
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if there are lots of things going on and you feel out of control. Just try writing it all down – keeping a notebook by your bed, in case you get that feeling in the middle of the night, can help unload it from your mind and let you get back to sleep, knowing you can tackle it in the morning. Having everything itemised can also help you see what is important and what isn’t and you can probably scrub a few things from the list completely!
One of the things I teach clients in my therapy room is deep breathing techniques to help calm anxiety and clear the mind. Try breathing in for a count of five, then out again for the same count, and do this five times. You will find that this simple exercise calms you down, lowers your heart rate, and helps you focus on something simple, instead of all the busy thoughts in your head.
Although you might feel more like curling up under the duvet, try going outside and taking a walk. You can listen to your favourite music along the way, maybe walk through the park and enjoy the birdsong and the flowers. And the physical exercise will help to calm your mind.
Remember - these feelings will pass
When you are in the midst of these anxious feelings and this panic, it can feel like it will last forever, I know. Just remind yourself that, whenever it has happened before, you have always got through to the other side and felt OK again. And you will be OK again this time, I promise.
Go easy on yourself
If you normally say to yourself “I shouldn’t worry about what others think of me” or “I should be more sociable” you will just increase your anxiety. Talk to yourself as you would to a friend, with empathy. Instead of “should” or “shouldn’t”, try saying for instance “I would like to be more outgoing”, and think about how you might achieve that, instead of putting pressure on yourself.
Change your behaviour and you'll change
My name is Tina Taylor and I run Life Hypnotherapy 1-2-1, a hypnotherapy practice in Hull.