Sometimes, our fears can really take over our lives but there are some ways to overcome anxiety for a more calm and serene you. Some fears and phobias can affect our everyday lives. For example, I know it might sound silly, but I used to have a fear of driving on motorways. By following some simple steps, I have managed to overcome my anxieties associated with driving on these busy roads. We all have fears, worries, anxieties and phobias as we journey through life and whilst it won't happen overnight, following these simple ways to overcome anxiety may offer a solution.
1. What Are You Afraid of?
One of the first ways to overcome anxiety is to actually establish what it is you're afraid of. The key is to look at the root cause of the anxiety and take 'baby steps' towards overcoming the fear. Think about what the underlying reason for your anxiety may be. Is there a past event associated with it which has caused you to feel this way and what do you actually gain by avoiding it? This will often help establish the root cause and when you look at where the fear or anxiety may have originated, it can help you to rationalise.
2. Learn to Relax
It's easy to overlook that thing that we do every minute of the day: breathing. But it's also an important tool which helps you to relax. Anyone who is well versed in the art of yoga or who meditates, will know how important breathing is. Learning how to relax is essential and taking deep breaths is one of the things that will help calm you down in moments of anxiety. Begin by taking a deep breath from your belly and holding for 6 seconds before releasing. Practise this for five minutes every day and gradually increase this breathing technique over time to 20 minutes.
3. The List Effect
I am a huge fan of lists so imagine how excited I was when I found out they are also useful when trying to overcome phobias and anxieties! Begin by making a list which starts with the situation or object you fear most and work down to the least anxiety-inducing object or situation. Take my example of motorway driving. The thought of driving on busy roads would cause me to panic and I would try and avoid motorways at all costs, which as you can imagine, can increase travel times considerably! For my list, I wrote down 'motorways' at the top. After that came 'dual carriageways' then 'A roads', which are single carriageway roads in Britain. I then continued writing down the least anxiety-inducing situations, from busy roads to less congested streets.
4. Start Small
The next step is to imagine you're in the least fear or anxiety-inducing situation on that list you have produced. Close your eyes and imagine you're there, whilst breathing and staying relaxed. Then work your way up the list, whilst all the time continuing to concentrate on your breathing.
5. Thoughts and Fears
As you're thinking about your fear, phobia or anxiety-inducing situation, write down the thoughts that pop into your head. They might be quite extreme like "I'm going to die" but don't worry. It just illustrates how powerful the mind is in controlling how we feel about things. The idea is to now change those 'fear phrases' into positive ones and write down the opposite thoughts which would calm you down. Think about what YOU would say to someone and how you would calm them down. Phrases like "I am NOT going to die" and "I am calm" can trick your mind into feeling those calm and serene thoughts.
6. Practise Relaxation
The next step is to actually put yourself in those real life situations but by starting from the bottom of the list and working your way up. If you need to do this with someone for support, then do so. Practise calming yourself down and saying those positive phrases to yourself and remember the breathing!
If this doesn't help then seek professional help. A therapist can help you overcome your fears and anxieties, so if it's something which is affecting your daily life and interfering with your ability to function properly, then seek advice.
These are just a few techniques I have used to overcome my fears and anxieties and they have worked. I can now drive on motorways without hyperventilating! What strategies do you use to overcome your fears, phobias and anxieties?