This Mental Health Awareness Week, the focus is on anxiety. Read on for simple and effective practices (it’s ALL about repetition) that have helped me transform my life and and that of many clients…
1) Make friends with your mind
Yes. It’s doing your head in with all these thoughts that are contributing to the anxiety BUT you can cultivate it.
Even if the thought of meditation makes you feel anxious, remind yourself that it’s NORMAL to struggle. We’re human! Simply start with the breath and notice what’s happening with it. Shallow? Deep? Middle?
If shallow (totally normal when we’re stressed and anxious), see if you can deepen it… How does that feel?
See if you can make your outbreath, your exhalation, that bit longer. Breathe in for a count of 3 and out for 4 or use another count and ratio that works with your natural breath length rather than feeling anxious about not having enough oxygen.
To calm the nervous system by activating the parasympathetic branch, it’s a slightly longer exhalation.
This helps the body enter Rest/Digest mode and with these signals of safety being sent up to the brain, it helps the whole system relax and feel calmer.
There are loads of videos to support you with conscious breathing and more HERE
Writing out your feelings can also be incredibly helpful so check out all the journal prompts in this week’s newsletter
2) Befriend your body
Those mornings where you feel anxious before even getting out of bed? Know that it’s just the cortisol pumping through your system.
We need enough to get us out of bed but when we have too much, it makes us feel jittery and anxious.
So use this knowledge to start your day as YOU want to start it.
I do a stronger morning yoga practice on such mornings, more Sun Salutations and extra enjoyment of Plank and Side Plank (I only hold them for a few breaths on each side but it really helps) to help burn off those excess stress hormones.
You might enjoy yoga or you might prefer as brisk a walk as you can manage or maybe you need a run.
Perhaps a bike ride or swim.
Even push ups or vacuuming!
I adore handstands and cartwheels when I’m injury free enough and there’s enough space.
Anything to MOVE your body and regulate your nervous system (ie feel better).
3) Be kinder to yourself
I know, I know.
I used to read all those ‘become your best friend’ articles in Cosmo when I was a young teen then young adult but none of the tips resonated for me.
I had no idea HOW to be kinder to myself.
If you’re struggling to amp up the self-compassion with a kinder inner voice that will immediately start to sooth the amygdala – the alarm bell of the brain, so sensitive and easily triggered with trauma and anxiety – pretend you’re a beloved cat, dog, lizard, baby or anything you soften at the mere idea of.
Ask yourself, would you think such unkind thoughts if this gorgeous, vulnerable and lovable creature was suffering?
Ease up on yourself day by day. Again, the emphasis here is on self care PRACTICES… You’ve got this.
It’s been so effective for me, I developed Cat Coaching as a result!
4) Remember there’s SO much more to you than your anxiety
It’s such a strong feeling, it’s easy to get hooked into.
If you let it, anxiety will make your whole world smaller. But simply reminding yourself that it’s just a part of you – a scared, helpless, vulnerable and LOVABLE part of you that needs to be heard and integrated – will help dilute the intensity and helplessness it can evoke.
To help yourself, grab a pen and paper and draw a small circle on the piece of paper.
In it, write the word, Anxiety.
And look at all the space around it.
As well as your anxious part, you have a gazzillion other parts. Your survivor part. Your daughter/son part. Your mother/father part. Your sibling part. Your ____[job title] part. Your creative part. Your delighted part. Your imaginative part. Your …
And, of course, your SELF. That highest, wisest, truest, wildest, most brilliant and miraculous part of yourself.
Let this soothe the anxious part with love, compassion and understanding.
5) Look around you
What else might be contributing to your anxiety?
While it’s important to be as informed as possible about the wonderful world around us, deciding how and when you’ll consume your news will do wonders for your anxiety.
You get to choose. Record your favourite programmes and watch them long before bedtime and give yourself time to consciously process what’s coming up for you rather than struggling to digest it and potentially making yourself ill.
Recognise the systems that contribute to your anxiety and go easier on yourself as you work to free yourself and others.
Ask yourself if planetary influences may be contributing. If it feels good, use the Waning Moon to amplify your release of the anxieties you’re ready to let go on. Consciously burn strips of paper naming them or flush them (on loo roll) or hold a stone and give it your anxieties before releasing it into the ocean…
6) Delve deeper
If you’d like more, this week in the Personal Peace online membership, there’ll be self care coaching around anxiety (your own and others’), an EFT Tap Along, some work with grounding, supportive crystals and the usual, unique for each week, Yoga Nidra guided relaxation.
And there’s exclusive content about my own journey with anxiety, journal prompts and more for free and paid subscribers of my weekly Self Care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing Substack
And, of course, there’s the book, 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing. Full of ideas – one for each day of the year – to support that anxious part of yourself.
What will you do differently this week to ease your anxiety?
Something from this list? Something that’s helped you in the past?
Email email@example.com and let me know!