Article by Erin Janus| Whether it’s before a trip to the dentist, a surgery, travels, a date or family gathering, career pursual, or even just the rampant racing of our imaginations, we all face fear and anxiety in one way or another. But when it comes to dealing with it in an effective, healthy way— well, that’s where most fall short.. including myself.
During my recent long road-trip to the United States (which is a decision that is going to be crucial for my career), while being on my period and under-slept, while the roads were full of ice and snow, while there was uproar about terrorist attacks on the news etc, fear and anxiety had their way with me a couple times. But after reflecting on solutions with a sound mind, I thought I would write this article. So here are 5 simple ways to deal with fear, stress and anxiety:
1) Try ‘7-11’ breathing
Quick, shallow breathing can trigger anxiety symptoms to into action, or to worsen. And while we all know to ‘take deep breaths’ to relax, one exercise in particular known as 7-11 breathing (breath in for 7 seconds, out for 11) is a sure way to calm your body and mind.
When you consciously exhale longer than you inhale, your vagus nerve sends signals to your brain to relax your sympathetic nervous system, which is associated with fight-or-flight and stress. It also simultaneously stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps conserve energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. So don’t just breath deep, breath in for 7 seconds, and out for 11!
2) Take care of yourself
If you are experiencing fear or anxiety, it’s crucial that you take care of yourself. Whatever way you can, whether it’s having a bath, making yourself a nice tea, going for a nature walk, or just stopping to take some deep breaths, re-center yourself and remind yourself that your panic will pass— you need to make more time for peace of mind and serenity than you make for your stress. So take care of yourself. The more you take care of yourself physically, psychologically and emotionally, the less likely you are to get whipped around by your racing mind and worries.
3) Realize your racing, worried mind is NOT reality
A lot of the time we create problems for ourselves because of how we view challenges (and even sometimes potential challenges that haven’t even occurred) in our life. Our mind races and assumes the worst, and we tend to automatically believe that the activity of our mind is simply the way things are or will be.
However, the truth is that our biggest ‘problems’ often stem from our lack of control over our mind, not our lack of control over our situation or challenge. So when you’re stressed, worried, fearful or anxious, remind yourself that’s how you feel at the moment, not how your life is, how the world is, etc. Don’t let your mind whip you around, because what goes on in it is not always reality, but rather a psycho-emotional interpretation of reality!
4) Welcome humour
When we’re feeling worried or stressed, we often tend to lose our sense of humor. But that is more of an emotional choice than it is a consequence of what is going on in our lives. Welcoming a comedic outlook on your situation can bring a lot of ease in times of distress. I mean, you can either panic and doom-say, or you can laugh. So… here, look at this bear-pun photo or something.
I don’t know. Someone will like it.
5) Stop directly feeding your fear and anxiety
Sounds simple, right? But most people actively and automatically feed their fear and anxiety without realizing it or taking control and choosing not to! And while some people suffer severe anxiety disorders that remain out of their control, in most cases we down-spiral into fear, anxiety, doom, dread, panic and negativity because we continue to feed the thoughts and paranoia that lead to such states of being.
It’s not worth it to repeat or re-think our fears over and over and over. It does nothing but wear us out emotionally, phystically and psychologically. After all, diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress extremely well. So next time you’re feeling stressed or anxious, why not focus on potential solutions instead of being a slave to your fears and anxiety?