5 Tips to Reduce Anxiety by Letting Yourself Be Anxious
These five tips to reduce anxiety work because when you use them, you don't struggle against the anxiety. When you want to reduce anxiety, sometimes you have to let yourself be anxious (see "Get Rid of Anxiety: Give Yourself Permission To Be Anxious"). This may seem horrifying, but it works. When you stop fighting anxiety, you free yourself to shift your attention away from anxiety and onto other things. Letting yourself be anxious, though, doesn't mean letting anxiety run rampant, unchecked, through your mind and body. There are structured ways to allow anxiety to exist while you move forward. Use the following five tips to reduce anxiety by letting yourself be anxious.
5 Tips to Reduce Anxiety By Allowing Yourself to Be Anxious
Each of these tips to reduce anxiety can stand alone or be used in combination with any of the others. The best place to start is simply to begin. If you are very hesitant to let yourself feel anxiety, perhaps choose one of these strategies and stick with it for a while until you feel ready to add another. If you're feeling bold, implement as many of these tips as you wish.
- Notice without judging. Begin by learning to actively notice anxiety. What are your anxious thoughts saying? What emotions are you experiencing? Where do you feel anxiety in your body? Practice being still with the sensations. Label them neutrally, and avoid judging your anxiety negatively. Do this exercise at least once a day, just sitting with anxiety without getting caught up in it.
- Be right here, right now. When you notice anxiety, acknowledge it, then immediately shift your focus onto something else. Mindfulness is a way of life that works well for reducing anxiety because it is a natural way to choose your attention. The moment you become aware of anxiety in your mind or body, tune into your senses. What is happening in your world right here, right now?
- Use distraction and defusion. This is an extension of mindfulness that has you being more active. Defusion is a technique used in acceptance and commitment therapy and involves defusing, or coming unglued from anxiety. You do this through distraction. Choose something to distract you when you feel anxiety taking over. Start to doodle. Journal. Read. Manipulate kinetic sand. Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it gently. You're being mindful of what's happening now, and you're doing it actively.
- Take courageous first steps. Begin taking small steps, and you'll start to reduce anxiety. Identify a small goal, and then list important steps to take in order to achieve it. Then, do the first step. Even if you feel anxious and afraid, take that step anyway. Then celebrate your courage.
- Dress for success. Gradually reduce anxiety by acting as though it were already gone. For example, if you dream of a job change, start dressing like you already have your dream job. Sometimes, anxiety is so severe that it's impossible to leave the house. Even if that's what you're facing, dress and act (at home) as though you've already met your goals and aspirations. Your mind reacts favorably to this. In this exercise, you're shaping your opinion of yourself and beginning to see yourself not as a victim of anxiety but of a powerful conqueror of it.
Letting anxiety have free reign over your mind and body increases anxiety. However, intentionally and purposefully taking measures to keep going despite feeling anxious is a natural way to reduce anxiety. These five strategies are designed to let you reclaim your life now, rather than waiting for anxiety to subside before you begin to truly live. This is the heart of reducing anxiety by letting yourself be anxious.
What tips to reduce anxiety do you have to share?
NCC, T. (2018, September 13). 5 Tips to Reduce Anxiety by Letting Yourself Be Anxious, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/9/5-tips-to-reduce-anxiety-by-letting-yourself-be-anxious
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Thanks for sharing strategies that work for you. I appreciate your input, and I'm sure other readers will, too.