Anxiety | 3 min read

Most of us experience anxiety at some stage in our lives. Here’s some mind-body-spirit practices to deal with anxiety, based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

  • When you find yourself worrying, write down your specific concern.
  • Next, write down what you can control and what you can’t.
  • Focus your attention and energy on what is within your control and let go of the rest.

Identify alternatives to your fears
The stories our minds tell us about bad things that might happen can feel real. Develop the habit of recognizing that things might turn out differently from what you’re afraid of.

  • When anxiety tells you something bad is going to happen, write down the prediction (the writing part is important).
  • Then write down a different possible outcome. You don’t have to make yourself believe the alternative. Simply realize that your feared outcome is just one of many stories about how things might go.

Move through anxiety
Anxiety often makes itself the centre of our attention, leading us to ask questions like, “Why do I feel so much anxiety?” or, “How can I stop feeling anxious?” Letting anxiety hog the spotlight just creates more tension and distress and can lead to a feeling of paralysis. When you’re experiencing anxiety, ask a different question: “What task needs my attention right now?” Then redirect your energy toward doing what needs to be done, allowing anxiety to exist in the background.

Set your sights first thing in the morning
Anxiety often begins even before we open our eyes in the morning. We can feel like victims of circumstance as we dwell on potential problems. Decide first thing in the morning what kind of day you will have. What quality of thoughts will you cultivate? How will you find joy? Reclaim your power as the author of your days.

Create space for sacred sleep
Getting quality sleep is one of the most important ways you can guard your mental, physical, and emotional health, but it’s one of the first casualties when stress is high. Prepare your mind and body for rest by letting go of the day behind you. When you get into bed, take ten slow, cleansing breaths to release the day’s stress and activity. With each exhale, let go of anything you’re holding onto from your day, and relax fully into your mattress.

See yourself managing problems
Your worries will probably throw all kinds of “What if…?” questions at you. When you catch your mind what-iffing, treat it as a real question. Respond matter-of-factly with how would you deal with it? What internal strength would you bring to bear? To whom would you look for support? See the worry not as the end of the world but as a potential problem you would solve.

Let go of tension
Fear and anxiety turn on the body’s stress response, which leads to physical tension. Tension in the muscles then feeds back into the mind, strengthening the feeling that all is not well. Progressive muscle relaxation is a well-tested way to let go of tension and calm the nervous system. It involves simply tensing and then relaxing the muscles, starting with the feet and working your way up the body.

  • Close your eyes and take three slow, calming breaths. Put on some gentle music if you like, though it’s not necessary. Tighten the muscles in your feet for a few seconds, and then let them completely relax. Take three more soothing breaths.
  • Continue this tense-release cycle followed by three breaths for the muscles in your:
    – Thighs
    – Hands
    – Abdomen
    – Shoulders
    – Arms
    – Forehead
  • Feel all the tension gradually leave your body.
  • End with five calming breaths and notice how you feel.

Source: Seth J, Gillian, PHD Clinical Psychologist

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