Here are some practical and more advanced strategies for handling anxiety, that might benefit you or someone you know who is struggling.
1.Take your focus off you and put it onto others in social situations
What we focus on grows, so here’s an interesting point of view that may allow you to feel less in the grips of anxiety and more in control of your physiology.
Please note this is an advanced tool and isn’t for everybody or isn’t necessarily relevant for you right now, but as you progress and move forwards, you may like to refer back to this article, or just remember this bit for later on.
When you are feeling good, learn about other people, notice their insecurities, see how they respond under different conditions. Realise that everyone has fears and things that make them uncomfortable.
Interestingly, sometimes the people we feel worst around are also in the grips of their own anxieties and insecurities and we are noticing this energy and being affected by it which is why there is some kind of negative reaction there.
See if you can take on the role of putting others at ease. Funnily enough, because you have anxiety, you will likely be very good at sensing how to do this. You can start to benefit from your previous experience as you help others and develop your capacities for demonstrating care and awareness of others too. It’s difficult to be both responsible and afraid at the same time. Anxiety usually takes place when the body is passive, so participating in this manner can provide a helpful distraction from ourselves.
Explore how you can contribute in a social situation. This works because it can take you out of your default anxious setting and get you interacting from a totally different perspective. Practice actively listening to whomever is talking, enjoy their story or what they are sharing, be supportive or funny. If you do better moving your body, offer to help the host with dishes or laying the table, take people’s orders or go and get water for your group.
Add value instead of being fearful and putting the energy of discomfort among others. This isn’t victim shaming, this is an energetic, personal decision that is incredibly empowering. (I’ve been through horrible anxiety and this is one thing that definitely helped me).
When I started to understand that I made others uncomfortable with my anxiety, I wasn’t happy about that and as began to take responsibility for every aspect of how I showed up the world, my life and patterns of anxiety began to shift and change.
“It’s not how we feel that matters in the end, it’s what we do that makes us brave”. Andre Agassi
Please note, if you aren’t ready for this tool, I am not suggesting you run contrary to your awareness if you need to leave a situation. Nor am I suggesting that you be the life and soul of a gathering when you feel contracted and terrible. This is a perspective to apply once you are starting to feel better.
2. Stop making other people’s opinions more important than yours
People who have been bullied or abused, always make other people’s opinions of themselves more important than their own.
What do I mean by this?
The person who has been traumatized always feels wrong, or like they are responsible for anything bad that happens. It’s their default setting and lends itself to feeling socially awkward and anxious.
Even if these people know they are kind and caring and they treat others with respect, if someone has a bad opinion of themselves for any reason, they will side with the other person. It’s like having the dial of personal acceptance on the ‘reject’ setting.
It is a painful way to show up in the world and to change this takes reprogramming some deep-seated beliefs. For these who are shame-based, usually body work is required to intervene in the physiological response associated with these thought patterns.
Do the work with a professional to change why this is and you will be more easily able to hold your own space (sense of self) and feel more empowered relating to others.
People can feel when we give our power away and our energy doesn’t match our behaviour and whilst most people will ignore it, you can feel vulnerable and this will definitely feed into an anxiety disorder.
3. Apply Good Recovery strategies on a bad anxiety day
If you can bounce back and regain a calm state sooner, you are better able to manage and strategize to handle your anxiety in terms of the big picture.
You have to recognize that you acknowledging yourself with kindness, caring for your body and refusing to dwell in the upset that anxiety can cause, is conducive to temporary good management and long-term recovery.
Here are some post anxiety tools that I used to use to feel better:
- Talking to my body. Thanking it for the awareness that the anxiety was giving me and telling it, “I’ve got the awareness now, thank you, you don’t need to keep giving it to me/you can turn down the intensity in future”.
Sometimes this works brilliantly and opening the pathway of communication with our body can give a lot of relief.
Bodies do respond to acknowledgment, gratitude and kindness and if anxiety is the thing that gets you communicating with your body that can assist you a lot in many areas such as diet, exercise and well-being.
- Acknowledging that you can’t change what’s happened, you can only move forward wiser and better equipped in future, so there is no point staying in shame, blame or regret over an anxiety attack that has happened.
It can be very painful acknowledging that we aren’t always in control of ourselves and difficult accepting that maybe some aspects of our physiology are reflecting that.
- I always found resolving to manage better in future and re-committing to over come my anxiety helpful – in other words reconnecting to my inner motivation and reminding myself of how far I had come and all the things I was doing to continue improving.
- Clearing my focus or pre-occupied thoughts by thinking about something I was looking forward to unrelated to the anxiety.
- Putting a break between the anxiety and whatever was next by having a sleep and ‘re-setting’ my physiology and vibrational state.
- Further changing my state by moving my body, going for a run or having a body work session to create change and relax.
- Journaling (not always but when required, to clear my mind and gain more clarity around things).