Anxiety can be a blessing and a curse, depending on how you manage it.
As someone who’s had it for years, I truly believe the slight undercurrent of panic has been the fuel behind most of the great things I’ve achieved in my life. However, when it gets on top of you it can be an absolute nightmare.
So how do you turn anxiety into a positive and make sure you have control over it rather than it controlling you?
1. Download a breathing app.
The first time I tried this it felt like I was on a miracle drug when all I was doing was breathing properly. When anxiety gets on top of you, taking deep breaths can be a real struggle. There’s tightness in your chest that won’t go away and it often feels like your lungs are operating at half their capacity. This is bad for obvious reasons but mostly because taking shallow breaths only makes the situation worse.
So how do you get your lungs feeling like they’re working again and your heart beating at a normal rate? You don’t need to learn complex breathing techniques, all you need to do is exhale for longer than you inhale and your parasympathetic nervous system will kick into gear and calm you down.
It’s literally that simple. Problem is, if you’re trying to do that in the middle of a panic attack or when you’re on the verge of one, it can be impossible unless you have something to focus on. A breathing app gives you an audiovisual guide that you inhale and exhale along to and it’s incredibly effective. I use the ‘Relax Lite’ app (it’s free) and the first time I tried it I was advised to do it for 10 minutes. An hour later I was still pressing refresh because I hadn’t felt that good in months.
"The first time I tried this it felt like I was on a miracle drug when all I was doing was breathing properly." Image via iStock.
2. Do yoga.
If you suffer from anxiety you’ll know that while meditation is wonderful in theory, the idea of sitting still for an hour isn’t always practical, particularly when you can feel things getting on top of you. But there’s something about meditation associated with moving your body that gives you something to focus on other than the fact your heart might explode out your chest.
If you haven’t done much yoga it may take a little while to move from “I can’t do any of the moves and this is making me more frustrated” to “I’m so Zen right now” but it’s worth putting in the time to get there. Once you do, that hour on the mat will be the calmest part of your whole day.