You can reduce anxiety and gain confidence over your emotions, even during stressful times. I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was a child and have found some skills that help reduce anxiety, while also improving self-esteem. The skill I want to share with you has allowed me to feel in control when anxiety intrudes and my confidence declines. It helps me reduce my anxiety while gaining confidence.
I know it can feel impossible to reduce anxiety’s intrusive and automatic thoughts, but it can be done. You may find yourself having a typical day and then all the sudden worry or fear creeps in and, suddenly you find yourself in a deep dark hole of fear, self-loathing, worry, shame or the urge to engage in an unhealthy behavior. Before the urge takes over or the thoughts become too intense, follow these tips to decrease the intensity of anxiety and maintain your confidence even when life throws you a curve ball of crap.
Five Steps for Reducing Anxiety Fast
The A.A.A.A.H. skill (say it out loud, it sounds like frustration if you ask me) allows us to gain control over negative thoughts or behaviors and figure out a more effective solution. Just the simple act of trying to get out of the negative thinking spiral can improve your confidence.
Your brain wants to stay stuck there because it’s easier to be miserable than change right? But the confident you, the real you, desires relief. So the moment you try something new, validate the heck out of yourself for doing something different and helpful.
How the A.A.A.A.H. Skill Works
- Awareness — Just become aware of the major feeling that is interfering right now. Your friend may be acting like a jerk, but if the real challenge is that you are feeling overwhelmed with fear that she will leave you and you’ll be friendless bring your attention to that.
- Accept the feeling — Acceptance doesn’t mean you like or approve of a behavior or thought, it simply allows your mind to stop fighting the feeling. Resistance leads to fear and pain, while acceptance allows for shifts. Say out loud (or to yourself) the emotion you are feeling. Just naming the emotion can reduce the intensity because your brain moves from the amygdala (emotional center of your brain) to the frontal lobe where processing and problem solving occurs. Naming our emotions can provide us with essential space from the emotion. It means that we are not that emotion exclusively. And also reminds us that the emotion is temporary. When we remember that we are greater than what we are feeling in that moment, we can be at peace with the feeling, and simply listen to what that feeling is trying to tell us.
- Action — What are a few actions you could take to reduce the intensity of this emotion and/or solve the problem for the time being? That may mean distracting yourself from the situation, focusing on something you do have control over, or taking a break to do something that you enjoy.
- Assess — Before taking action assess the possible outcomes. Are there any actions that don’t solve the problem but do help you feel more in control, joyful or confident? Are there any negative after effects to engaging this action?
- How intense is your worry or your urge now? — The “H” asks you to check in and see if the intensity has reduced and how much control or clarity you’ve gained. Even though you may not have solved the problem, you likely have reduced the intensity of the thought or urge.
Gaining Confidence and Reducing Anxiety
An important point to remember is that we can only control so much in life. I realize I may not be able to solve all the problems I’m worried about, but I can take control when I honor my emotions and attempt to problem solve. You can do this too when you try these five steps to reduce anxiety and improve your confidence.