Are you the calm, confident, and in control of your life type, or do you just wish you were? Do you meet your commitment to yourself to meditate and stay mindful, letting all ‘that little stuff’ just roll off your back like you know you should? Those were good goals when you set them and they still are. If you are like most of us, you are spending more time thinking about taking action rather than actually doing anything. You blame your constitution, your focus, your very self; one minute you are calm and the next minute you wonder if you put the alarm on at your house, or forgot to lock your car door. After all, you were in a big sweat this morning when you left. You are anxious and this article is about how cooling an anxious mind.
This is anxiety and if you aren’t careful, it will come to manage you rather than the other way around. As a life coach, I can tell you that the key to managing anxiety is intentional effort and consistency. All those mindfulness exercises, developing good boundaries, getting enough sleep, drinking less, and taking that half hour walk are indeed good for you, but only if you practice them often enough for them to become habits. Here are some tips that can help you make the most of your dynamic mind.
Calm your central nervous system
Take a breath. Research indicates over and over again that how you breathe has effects on things ranging from the pH of your blood to your blood pressure. On top of that, if you practice “abdominal” breathing, it helps train your body to react differently in tense situations. When you control your breathing, you go a long way to controlling the release of stress hormones. Here are some ways:
- Get comfortable, sit and breathe in, expanding your chest and in turn, your ribcage. Notice your upper chest and abdomen while you breathe by placing a hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
- Focus on your breathing and breathe in and out slowly using only your nose. With practice, you can keep your stomach and chest still with your diaphragm working with your abdomen and less with your chest.
- As you take each breath, you will be able to feel tension start to slip away. Once you are in the swing of it, you can breathe slowly, sitting quietly and enjoying the sensation of physical relaxation.
Develop a consciously nimble mindset
One of the worst causes of anxiety is an unyielding, inflexible, rigid mindset. Be on the lookout for the gray or middle ground where you only see black and white. Try and avoid absolute words like “ever” and “never,” or “always.” Is your wife always late for appointments? Has your daughter never helped clean the kitchen? Are you really going to say that you have done everything to reduce your worry?
“Catastrophizing” is a negative emotional thought process where you magnify the problem, focus on your helplessness, and repeat until your stress level reaches near panic proportions. Studies have shown that working with a life coach, or in extreme cases, a cognitive behavioral therapist can be very effective in developing new ways to think and in turn, take action in your life when you are feeling that kind of anxiety. You will learn that in some cases, it is your thinking patterns that are causing you to overestimate the probability and seriousness of negative things happening.
Stop over explaining
Have you ever heard the quote “the guilty flee when none pursue”? Anxious people often overcomplicate things. Their different relationship with language is different than yours. Talking too much and you are “emotionally vomiting” and too little and you are “socially phobic.” You see how you can make yourself spin just thinking about it? In reality you don’t need to give as many details you think. Mental energy is limited and time costs money. When you over explain, you waste precious time in an interview, or waste emotional energy with your partner. When taken to an extreme it can become a boundary issue. Learn to trim the verbal fat and you will find yourself less anxious.
Imagine yourself being a calmer person
Visualization is something that can improve your day, every day. It is common amongst actors and athletes who want to maximize their performance when it comes time to do their jobs. Preparation goes a long way towards being comfortable in situations and around people who make you anxious. When you visualize your day and how it will play out, you focus on making a complete mental picture and, are more likely to handle the stress when you face it for real. You problem solve better and when those glitches come up, you are in a better frame of mind to handle them. If you go so far as to visualize how things might sound and even smell, you are more likely to remain calm and collected.
Of course, this won’t happen overnight. Getting on the right side of anxious (the calm side) isn’t always as easy as just saying it. You will, from time to time, slip into old patterns and ways of thinking, doing, and feeling. When you backslide, you are ok. It’s really ok; just repeat the steps you just read, starting over again and practice cultivating this new way of being. When it comes to your own mental health, it isn’t what you know, but what you do that really matters.
So say good-bye to your former anxious self with that anxious mind, and take your first step to positive change.
SEE A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.