Sometimes in this world we can be caught in a whirlwind of events going on that can stress you out. Anxiety is like the younger sibling of stress. Wherever stress goes, anxiety is sure to follow. We can’t rid ourselves of stress or anxiety, It’s just too common in everyday life. What we can do is learn to control it and not let these two dictate our lives. Avoid alcohol and drugs, change some bad eating habits and start writing down what triggers your anxiety the most and try to avoid that situation until you become less vulnerable. For anxiety specifically, there are a few things that can help lower it or even prevent it from flaring up at all.
Breathe: sounds simple right? Well it is….if your doing it right. You need to slow down. Stop what you’re doing and close your eyes. Take a deep breathe through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. Do this as slow as you can and around the 5th time you should notice your heart rate slow right down to normalcy. While I’m doing this, I like to envision that I’m somewhere else. Somewhere peaceful and quiet. I pay attention to the details in my mind; The sand at my toes, The waves in the water, The mountains in the distance, and so on. When we can slow our mind down, we can then start thinking more clearly and rationally. We are not going to die, everything is fine, and there is no need to worry. Some things we cannot control. If we can accept that fact and learn to control what we can (anxiety) we will be able to focus on the task at hand.
Social anxiety: Something almost everyone deals with. That’s why they invented liquor right? In many situations involving other people we tend to tense up, some more than others. We tend to avoid scenarios where there will be people present such as parties, baby showers, weddings or even dating. We get petrified at the fact we have to engage in conversation with someone we don’t know and are not comfortable with. My girlfriend didn’t want to meet me at first either due to this horrible anxiety! (I’m glad she conquered her fear). So what can we do? Well the easiest answer is drink your face off, make a fool out of yourself then forget the night even happened. Or we can practise how to react in these scenarios.
What I would like you to do is have a seat somewhere. Now let’s say you’re meeting your in-laws for the first time. (Always a nerve racking moment.) I want you to pretend that the in-laws are in a bedroom near by, waitinf to meet and talk to you. I want you to get up, walk over to the door and turn the handle, but don’t go in just yet. Were you nervous doing this? Did you notice your heart rate elevate? Odds are it did and if so, take that same seat again and repeat this process 3 more times. Each time does it get a little easier and easier? When you are ready, enter the room. Envision your in-laws standing there and I want you to literally start a conversation. Keep it short and simple. Start off for example by complimenting their home, dog if applicable, and introduce yourself. Pretend to shake hands and repeat this process a few times.
With repetition comes familiarity. So when we’ve done this before in our minds we’ve prepared for this scenario accordingly. Now I only gave you one scenario, that’s true. But you can envision any scenario you want and practise it. It makes this process easier which is exactly how athletes prepare for games. They practise game situations so when the time comes they become familiar with the situation, they can block out the anxiety and focus on the task at hand. Perhaps this is why Michael Jordan was able to hit game winning shots all the time!