what are symptoms of anxiety?
☐ Difficulty controlling worry
☐ Feeling of fear or apprehension
☐ Low energy
☐ Difficulty falling or staying asleep
the top 5 strategies for anxiety and worry
☐ Low concentration
☐ Feeling of panic
☐ Mind going blank
☐ Low appetite
☐ Abdominal distress
☐ Dry mouth
☐ Muscle tensions
☐ Rapid heart beat
how does anxiety work?
Anxiety is like a smoke alarm. It helps protect us, but when it goes off all the time when there isn’t a threat, it can be a problem.
Check out the fantastic resources at http://www.anxietybc.com/
Have a smartphone? Check out the app: MindShift
More resources can be found here: http://mindfulwaythroughanxietybook.com/exercises/
strategy 2: don't try to get rid of your anxiety
Many people describe that they feel anxious about their anxiety. Sometimes people want their anxiety to go away, but this makes them more anxious about their anxiety. A more realistic (and often more relaxing) goal is often to learn to better cope with anxiety instead of trying to not have anxiety.
REFLECT: Why might it be a good idea to learn to cope with anxiety rather than to try to make it go away?
strategy 3: practice being present
One effective way to learn to better cope with anxiety is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness. When people are anxious they are typically focused on something they feel they can’t control or feel uncertain about in the future. Research shows that when people pay attention to things happening in the present (e.g., body sensations or activities like walking) and don’t try to stop their anxiety, they become less anxious about their anxiety. Learning to be present (especially when feeling anxious) requires practice.
REFLECT: What is one thing you can use to train yourself to be in the present rather than in the future (e.g., breathing, washing dishes, feeling the body or an object)?
practice makes perfect
When and how often are you going to practice either of these strategies?
strategy 4: the body scan
One of the most effective strategies to practice being present and to cope with anxiety is the body scan. Unlike other relaxation strategies, the focus of the body scan is to just notice body sensations and not to try to change anything (remember it’s all about just paying attention to what is present). Take as long as you like.
1. Breath: Start by noticing your breath. Don’t try to change your breathing, just notice it.
2. Scan: Scan your body from toes to head for body sensations (tensions, temperature, sensations from clothes or leaning against furniture or noticing the body on the floor, if you are lying down). Don’t try to change anything, just be aware.
3. Whole Body: Then notice your whole body.
Below is a video recording of a 10-minute body scan or you can find it at:
strategy 5: the 5-senses strategy
The 5-senses strategy can help you when you are overthinking things or are feeling more generally anxious.
Find up to 5 things you can see, up to 5 things you can hear, feel (can touch), and smell or taste. Do this several times.
strategy 1: identify your anxiety
Anxiety typically shows up in three ways:
As thoughts (e.g., “What if...” or “I can’t believe I am feeling anxious again”),
As behaviours (e.g., avoidance or finding an excuse to get out of doing something we think creates anxiety or discomfort), and
As physical symptoms (e.g., headaches, stomach aches, nausea, etc.).