Anxiety is a perfectly natural emotion, most commonly thought of as a relatively unnecessary by-product of a time when the stakes are high or when we fear the uncertain. To be nervous can be healthy because it peaks our senses and our body’s internal systems, increasing our adrenalin and oxygen levels, which makes us more alert during the situation. But at the same time, excessive anxiety can only result in a hinder to our progress because we waste our energy on worrying rather than the task at hand. Like any emotion, it can begin to control us because we do not know how to confront and regulate it.
Ways to overcome anxiety:
- Don’t avoid what is making you anxious or scared – the more you are exposed to your fear, the more you become used to it, and it will seem less scary each time you do it. Remember that a feeling of accomplishment and confidence can grow from facing fears, and these feelings will transcend into other aspects of your life
- When facing your fear, instead of focusing solely on the worry and the worst-case scenarios of a situation, visualise that there is life beyond that fear and anxiety. For example, if you are worried about an exam or an interview, remember that life goes on after that, whatever the outcome, and whichever way life goes, things can be solved and your life can be happy
- Praise yourself when you have survived a situation where you have felt anxious – then, next time you can remind yourself that you’ve survived it before. In time, you will gain confidence and learn to control and shrink the size of your anxiety
- Remind yourself of the good things that come from facing your anxiety. For example, someone with social anxiety can find it hard to be with a big group of people, and might worry about what others think of them. But, in reality, nobody will mind if you start off by saying very little whilst you grow confidence to speak freely in a large group. Usually, once you get over the hurdle of the initial anxiety that brews with the thought of facing your fear, you might actually enjoy yourself or forget about your fear when you turn your mind to the task rather than the outcome
- Relax and think about something else that calms you or makes you happy – then, when you face a similar situation you will learn to associate it with calmness instead anxiety. Again, this will help gain confidence in these nerve-wrecking situations
- Instead of going into a situation with a negative mindset, go in with a positive mind. For example, if you have an interview or an exam, do not tell yourself that you are going to choke or you will fail. Tell yourself that you are going to go in there and show them what you can do! You have tried your best, and that is all that anyone can ask of you
- Talking to someone is one of those solutions that comes up again and again for overcoming problems, and anxiety is no different. Talking to someone can serve to release those bottled up feelings, and the other person may be able to calm and reassure you. Alternatively, if you regularly worry, especially at night, you could schedule a 15 minute worry-time session during the day, where you write down your worries in a diary to get it off your chest – then, when it comes to time for sleeping, you can tell yourself that you’ve already worried today and you can worry tomorrow at your scheduled worry-time
Things to remember if you’re worrying at night:
- Everything seems worse at night – you’re tired and when you’re trying to fall asleep, it’s much harder to control your thinking and drown out any negativity. Anxiety only increases the adrenalin, making you more awake even when you are exhausted. But I guarantee in the morning, even though your worries or problems may still be there, you will realise that they are not as bad as they seemed at night and you’ll have a much better chance of creating a plan of action in the morning.
- There is nothing at that moment when you are trying to fall asleep that you can do about that problem. The best thing you can do is get a good nights sleep. So put it out of our mind and deal with it tomorrow when you have a clearer head. Trying to fix a problem or sooth an anxiety when you’re tired could make things much worse for you. Instead, calm yourself at night by thinking about things that make you happy or you are looking forward to