How I Manage Anxiety And Stress
Like most people, I experience feelings of anxiety. I’m not an expert on how to deal with these feelings as I believe it’s different for each person. However, in this post, I’m going to be sharing the ways I manage my feelings of anxiety with the hope that these tips will help you too!
Anxiety is often associated with stressful or emotional moments, but the frequency and level of stress and high emotion will differ for each one of us. I think society is becoming a lot more open about anxiety, stress and overwhelm than it used to be, which makes us feel like we can open up more about our feelings.
Before I give you tips on how to manage anxiety, I want to share with you some of my own experiences to give you a bit of background and to reassure you that you’re not alone in feeling anxious.
My recent experience with anxiety
Anxiety with work: I experience anxiety for several reasons, usually when I’m worried about an upcoming event, or when something is unknown. I used to work full-time as an Assistant for a Private Equity Firm in London. There were many times when I felt anxious the night before work, especially on a Sunday evening. I would feel anxious because I found the environment I worked in to be stressful and very highly pressured.
In this role, I was responsible for organising a yearly event in December. The event was the biggest event which our company would host. I would start organising the event in August / September and from then until the day of the event, I would feel anxious. As each month passed I would feel myself getting more and more anxious. I coped well on the surface, people wouldn’t have guessed how I was feeling, but on the inside, I felt awful. I found myself not being able to juggle other commitments and routines as my mind felt too consumed and busy.
My solution: I had this job for four years and the best solution was to find a new job! The job didn’t benefit my well-being and I’ve found a new role which makes me a lot happier so far I haven’t felt anxious in my new role. Sometimes things need to be completely removed from our life to make space for better ones.
Anxiety driving: When I quit my full-time job in London for a part-time job locally, I swapped the train for the car. I’ve been driving since I was 17 but I wasn’t used to driving in rush hour. When I started this role, I started feeling anxious to drive during rush hour. Even though it’s only a 20-minute drive, I wasn’t used to how aggressive and impatient drivers are during rush hour.
My solution: The thing with this is I had to drive to work, there wasn’t another option. I had to face my anxiety and I did this by trying out different routes and seeing which one I preferred. I found a new route which avoids the busy roundabouts and roads and only added on a couple more minutes.
Anxiety meeting new people: I think most of us can feel anxious when we’re meeting new people, whether we’re attending an event alone or meeting our partner’s friends or family for the first time.
My solution: I can’t stop myself from feeling anxious when I’m meeting someone new, but I can make myself feel more at ease. I do this by finding out what the plans are for the day, it means I’m completely clued up on where we’re going, who’s going to be there and what’s on the menu (if we’re dining). Finding out these smaller details and knowing the plan for the day, puts my mind at ease.
How I Manage Anxiety
The first way I manage my anxiety is by taking a minute to stop, breathe and be present. Being mindful of the moment you’re in and giving your mind a chance to relax and for your body to take a deep breath.
Let your mind have a quick break from your to-do list and all the things coming up. Breathe and be present, ignore your worries and for this moment don’t worry about what’s ahead of you.
Instead of putting your mind on the things you must do or the things that are coming up, just take this moment to ignore the future, stop worrying, and enjoy the present moment that’s right in front of you.
Exercise is a huge help when managing anxiety. I’ve got myself into a nice routine of doing 30 minutes of yoga every morning. Moving and stretching your body can help rid anxious feelings. So just do what you can to move, stretch and break a sweat.
When you’ve stressed the muscles in your body become tense, doing exercise regularly will help realise any tension which has built up.
It’s okay to say no
Remember that it’s okay to say no. Whether it’s because your plate is already full or simply because you need some time at home to relax, it’s okay to decline invitations to things you don’t want to do. You don’t have to be a people pleaser and people should respect your time and how you want to spend it. Put yourself first and learn that it’s okay to say no. Having fewer things on your plate that you don’t want to do, will help rid those anxious feelings. Plus it’s a lot easier to decline an invitation at the beginning, rather than accepting it than trying to come up with an excuse later on.
Declutter your to-do list
If it’s my to-do list which is making me feel anxious, the best thing is to declutter it. With each task, ask yourself what will happen if you don’t do this. You will find lots of things which aren’t necessary or can be pushed back.
If your to-do list is still looking crazy or if you’re finding it hard to remove things from your list, remind yourself that done it better than perfect. If you haven’t got enough time right now to get everything done, then remove the pressure and tell yourself that being done is better than perfect. Learn to be okay with your efforts instead of striving for perfection.
P.S. I put all of my blogging tasks into my calendar. This way I can clearly see how much I need to get done. This stops me from working from a to-do list and feeling overwhelmed by it. I talk more about this in my video below.
What we see on social media tends to be the highlight reels of other people’s lives, which consequently makes us feel less than others. Earlier this year I had about two months off of Instagram. I don’t know about you, but seeing picture-perfect images online and getting caught up in the number of likes and followers was affecting my anxiety. If you ever feel the same, spend some time offline to help reduce your anxiety. Be present and spend time with people face to face rather than online.
Speak to someone
When I’m feeling anxious I like to tell someone close. By sharing my thoughts and feelings with a close friend or family member, we’re able to talk it through and I always feel better afterwards. They say a problem shared is a problem halved and I really believe this, because as soon as I share my feelings I suddenly see it from their perspective and I can understand how my mind has made it into something bigger.
I’ve found journaling to be a great tool to reduce anxiety. It helps you become a lot more self-aware and find solutions to problems that you haven’t been able to think through before.
My favourite type of journaling exercise is morning pages. If you haven’t heard of morning pages before, they are basically three pages of writing done every morning. The idea is to allow your pages to be messy as you write down anything and everything which you’re feeling and thinking. Doing this allows your mind to become a lot clearer and for you to be much more focused.
Do you have any tips to manage anxiety? Comment below!