Take back control.
Anxiety…we all feel it. Anxiety symptoms vary from general distress to sweating palms to nausea-inducing stomach cramps.
For some. it’s an uncommon visitor, a fleeting shadow beneath the door. For others, it’s the friend you let crash on your couch one night, who now refuses to leave.
Regardless of its frequency or severity in your life, anxiety has a penchant for showing up uninvited and requiring your attention. That’s why you should learn how to deal with your anxiety and its effect on your life, for when it inevitably comes knocking on your door.
Here are some tips from Coach Monique for how to deal with anxiety, so you can take back control of your life:
1. The “Delete, Delete” Technique.
In order to deal with anxiety, first reframe your thinking to be more positive. Coach Monique goes over this technique in more detail in her book, Most People Don’t Need a Therapist, They Just Need a Change. The third chapter, “When You Change Your Thoughts, You Change Your Life,” covers negative thought patterns and positive examples in using the “Delete Delete” technique.
In summary, we invite anxiety into our lives every day with the little things. Every time you fixate on an embarrassing memory or a negative aspect about yourself, you’re opening the door to anxiety and all of those uncomfortable anxiety symptoms.
But you have control over your actions, your thoughts, and feelings. So when you feel yourself starting to go down a negative path, be present and delete your bad thought. Simply say aloud or to yourself, “Delete Delete.” Imagine that your brain is a dry-erase board and you’re simply wiping the negativity away with a wet rag.
For example, the other day I was enjoying a walk when I remembered an embarrassing memory from high school. Rejection, failure, isolation. There was no obvious trigger for the memory and no reason for it being there. Nor was there anything to gain in my brain reminding me of awkward missteps and uncomfortable moments. This memory had the potential to ruin a perfectly good hike on a sunny day.
Instead of letting it do just that, I sat on the bench and said “Delete, Delete” and thought about something else. Then, a couple of American robins hopped across the grassy field in front of me, rooting worms from the mud. Within moments, I felt better and could resume my hike with no problem.
The “Delete Delete” technique allows you to take a moment for yourself and actively alter the course of your thinking.
2. Make Yourself Bigger.
Imagine you’re at a campground. You set your tent for the night and you’re about to start cooking dinner when a brown bear shambles through the spare tree line, snuffling for food. He’s twice your size and stubbornly hungry. You raise your arms over your head, casting a greater shadow. You jump and scream until the bear decides he’d rather steal food out of an unlocked food safe than deal with you.
Now, pretend that bear is your anxiety. Don’t let it steal your food. You bought it for you. Standing taller and acting bigger naturally tricks your brain into being more confident.
If you need an extra boost, try smiling, as well. It’ll feel weird at first, smiling for no reason. But give it a moment and you might find that you’re not faking it anymore.
These tricks tap into your physicality. Since your brain and your body are intrinsically linked, altering one affects the other. Smiling and making yourself bigger is like resetting the circuit breaker in your brain.
3. Take Deep Breaths.
Have you ever caught yourself holding your breath? Sometimes, I’ll be so transfixed on a project that I don’t notice I’m not breathing until my head is ringing louder than a brass bell. You feel ridiculous, of course — how do you forget to breathe? — but it’s more common than you think.
We’re trained to work ourselves to death. While being motivated and hard-working are valuable traits, don’t forget your well-being in the process. Take a step back, breathe deep. Relax. You don’t need more than five minutes to reset your state of mind. A poor breathing habit causes stress, muscular tension, and influences your mental-emotional state.
If you don’t think you can set time in the day to breathe deeply, there are plenty of free meditation apps that remind you to take time for yourself. Some examples are Headspace, Calm, and Stop, Breathe & Think.
The endorphins released during exercise naturally relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances general well-being. For most people, the main issue is scheduling! You might feel discouraged by the sheer list of responsibilities on your roster, but there are easy and quick ways to pencil exercise into your life.
Try the “5 X 30 Rule”: The rule says that everyone should jog, walk, bike, or swim five times a week for thirty minutes. Maybe park your car at a distance from work and walk the rest of the way.
Remember to be patient with yourself. You shouldn’t abandon your full-time job to run a marathon tomorrow. Find the time in small things, such as taking the stairs to your office instead of the elevator or doing small interval workouts when you get out of the bed in the morning. Set daily goals, and aim for consistency rather than intensity.
The most important goal is that you set a schedule that can be implemented consistently years from now.
5. Ask Yourself, “What’s the Source of My Anxiety?”
If you keep a journal, track your anxiety levels throughout the day. Look for a pattern.
If you don’t journal, there are other ways to track your day — for example, you can text yourself and check the time stamp before bed and then think about what happened around that time frame. Perhaps you’re in conflict with a coworker or dreading a weekly meeting.
The source of your anxiety sometimes hides in the minutia of daily life. Record parts of your day. You might surprise yourself.
This guest article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 5 Ways To Outsmart Your Anxiety (So It Stops Controlling Your Life).