How to Deal with Anxiety Part Two
At Oakland Care, wellbeing and mental health for our team members and residents is a priority. We are highlighting Mental Health Awareness week with various wellbeing activities within our homes this May. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is ‘Anxiety’. A regular and natural emotion, anxiety can become a mental health problem when it becomes out of control. Part two of this blog post gives you some practical methods to help you manage anxiety if it has become a problem.
Useful tips for managing anxiety
Use the thinking brain part of the brain (the Pre-Frontal Cortex) to talk to and rationalise with the emotional part of the brain (the Limbic System), this will help with emotional regulation and self-soothing. Use self-talk and self-compassion to calm the emotional brain. Phrases such as ‘it’s okay to feel anxious’, and ‘my physical symptoms cannot hurt me’ can help.
Avoidance is the king of anxiety maintenance. If you keep situations where you feel anxious and engage in safety behaviours, you won’t learn how to manage it. Facing your fear will allow you to experience the reality that your anxiety cannot harm you, which will help alleviate it. By avoiding your anxiety, you cannot do this.
Challenge your thoughts. Deal with intrusive thoughts, catastrophic thinking and automatic thoughts by challenging them. These types of thoughts may bring distress, and they don’t have to be true to do so (see part one). Thoughts change emotions. Automatic thoughts are driven by our beliefs built in our past, but we are usually not aware of this in the moment. Challenge these thoughts. Are they realistic? Have you had them before, and have they come true? Put up a fight against these useless thoughts.
Taking yourself from focusing on the internal to the external. Ground yourself in the moment. Use the five senses, what do you see, what do you hear, what can you feel, what can you taste, and what can you smell? By going through the senses, you are taking the focus internally from what you feel to externally. ‘The nose knows’. The quickest way to take yourself from the internal to the external s to smell something. Carry around an aromatherapy oil or perfume, and when you feel anxiety creeping in, use your sense of smell to ground you.
Practice mindfulness which is being present in the moment. If you are going to practice this, KISS it (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID). Mindfully brush your teeth. Just be present brushing your teeth. Just be mindful of what I am experiencing right now. All other worries will become background noise.
Have a daily routine of non-negotiables that works for you. Things that help with your mental health be it adequate sleep, exercise, healthy diet, cold showers, self-care etc. Find out what helps you and stick to it. Make these things priorities and non-negotiables.
Ask for help. It’s not okay to live with a level of anxiety that is impacting your enjoyment of life. Reach out and tell someone, ask for help and never accept that you ‘have to live with it’.