“You do not just wake up and become the butterfly—growth is a process” ― Rupi Kaur
You’ve come to terms with the fact that anxiety exists in your life.
You’ve done a lot of work to manage anxiety so that it doesn’t control every single thought, feeling and behavior. Some days you even feel proud of yourself, anxiety didn’t win today. You’ve made some strides in your relationships, let yourself feel your feelings and many days you manage to make some time for a self-care practice that feels oh so good.
Then you wake up one day and you can feel it.
The tightness in your chest. The worry that kept you up for two hours in the middle of the night. The panic that’s trying to rise in your chest as you get ready for your day. You can sense anxiety trying to creep back into your life. Your nervous system is on high alert. Your heart heaves a sigh. This is it. A critical moment.
You can power through and hope for the best. Or you could do something else.
The problem is, you’re tired. And scared. And unsure what will help. I know it can feel like a risk to try something new, to trust that you can get through this. I also know if we don’t try new things we will often just repeat the same experiences again and again.
If you want to experience change in your life you’ve got to change your behaviors. Easier said than done, I know. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. Keep reading.
Here are three effective tools for managing anxiety and taking back your life, one practice at a time.
1. Write it down and set it free
Seriously, the brain needs an outlet. Talking to yourself in your head is not gonna cut it here. Get a little journal and keep it in your car, purse, pocket, gym bag. Pick a spot. Bring a pen or pencil. Carry it with you. When you notice anxiety creeping into your thoughts or your body, take a breath and take one minute to write it down – whatever it is that’s itching inside you – the thought, the worry, the insecurity, the pain in your body, the tension. The practice of noticing it in and of itself will often help it dissipate. The act of writing it down can often soothe your anxiety and help you relax and put your brain back online so you can get back to life.
2. Shake it out
Ready? Set! Go! Move that body! When you move the body you shift the nervous system, bring in more breath and blood flow, altering the brain and your body chemistry. It’s like magic, but science. It’s kind of amazing. We can’t think our way out of anxiety so we need practices to digest the experiences so they don’t continue to get stuck in our system and cycle on endless repeat. Need some ideas?
- Put on your favorite song and dance!
- Have a kung fu party and hi-yah! your way to more space and joy
- Do jumping jacks or try skipping
- Literally shake your body out – get outside if you can and shake shake shake it all out
- Get to a yoga class or do a 5-minute home practice (need some guidance? Check out lineage of love or yoga glo)
3. Enlist Help
Creating a support system isn’t a luxury. It’s necessary for taking care of yourself, soothing your nervous system, and telling your anxiety ‘not today buddy!’
Think of this practice as foundational for building resilience. This is a bigger investment than the quick practices listed above, but stay with me. If you can take care of yourself when you are feeling good, you will strengthen your capacity for feeling good. Did you catch that?
The more time you spend feeling good, the better you will feel. And the more you make time to practice feeling good, the faster you will be able to return to this feeling when you get off-track or sidetracked by unwanted feelings and thoughts.
Change is a choice. And making changes in your life means asking for and getting the support you need. It’s a process.
Need some ideas for a kick-butt support team? Here you go:
- Find a yoga teacher you respect and commit to weekly/daily classes
- Work with an herbalist or naturopath
- Work with your doctor or functional medicine doctor
Psychotherapy can help you manage anxiety.
I believe in the healing power of relationships and the art of psychotherapy. I believe when given the sacred space to rest and reset we heal. Having a weekly space for self-care can radically alter your body, brain, heart and soul. Therapy can help you understand how you personally respond to stress and anxiety, and illuminate the road out of the chaos.
Find the community of practitioners that work for you and reach out, both when you are stressing and especially when you are not. I can’t emphasize enough how much taking excellent care of your mind, body and soul when you are feeling good is an amazing practice.
Here’s the recap:
When you feel like running from your anxiety symptoms…Try these self-care strategies to manage anxiety instead:
- Write it down and set it free
- Shake it out
- Enlist help and call on your support team
Do any of these practices resonate with you? I would love to hear about it. Please drop a comment below, I respond to all messages and comments.
I also want to take a moment to acknowledge that this post, these practices and most of what I’m talking about here is for supporting low level stress and anxiety. If you are experiencing more severe symptoms of anxiety such as panic attacks, anxiety attacks, or anything else that is consistently negatively impacting your life – please, please, please, reach out to your doctor and/or a psychotherapist to get support right now. Anxiety is a normal response to stressful events but can be crippling when it goes uncared for.
You don’t have to suffer through this or find your way through it alone. If you are in need of therapeutic support, please reach out.
I work with people in person and online. You can also search on psychology today or ask any of the resources listed above in your community for a referral.
From my heart to yours,
Kim is a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who specializes in supporting individuals struggling with anxiety and depression. A yogi and a psychotherapist, she believes that being human is a practice and that healing and change is always possible. Kim currently offers holistic psychotherapy and counseling to individuals in El Dorado Hills, CA. She also provides tele-health/online video services. Call/text to find out more: 916.467.9539.