Are you a nail biter? I was many years ago and I also picked at the skin around them. When that gets too raw, I bite at the skin on the inside of my lip. Not an attractive look, let me tell you and it used to drive me nuts when I did that! It took me a long time of catching myself and not being able to stop before I looked into why I was doing things that were making my nails looked ugly. I’d bet you have it too, at least every once in a while, and maybe much more often: anxiety.
For real, I know you look chill all the time, but it’s in the back of your mind too. It’s not a scary thing, it’s actually pretty normal. We just need to make better ways of dealing with it than biting our nails/lips, going off at our loved ones or eating everything in the house when we anxious! But you can still eat a whole tub of ice cream if you want to, I won’t judge.
The first thing I always do is to step back. I remove myself from whatever crazy pants thing is happening, even if I have to hide in the toilet for 10 minutes. When I was a Casino Shift Manager, I had to do this a couple of times a week as the job can be pretty full on! And also I have few colleagues who enjoyed giving me a hard time! Making sure you get balanced, nutritious meals will help a ton (so you’re less likely to stress eat the whole bag of chips and the fudge gelato). Getting a whole night of good sleep is essential too, it’ll let your mind relax and it’ll take a lot more pushing before you get to the point of freaking out. These strategies are researched and documented too, check out these recommendations. But these aren’t enough when you’re already at your breaking point.
So I want to teach you something I learned from this awesome tool I have bookmarked. It’s too awesome not to share, it’s originally from here. I use this any time I feel like deadlines are biting my heels, family bring drama to my life, or any time I just feel the world spinning out of control. I’ve used it more than once to calm down a full-on panic attack, so I know how well it works. I’ve sent it to all of my best friends, and they came back to me with very similar results.
We’re going to use a graphic to focus our attention, and we’ll go through some things that will remind us that we are here, present, in the RIGHT NOW. As you look at this image, I want you to focus on breathing. JUST on the breathing. As the shape grows, take a deep breath in. As the shape shrinks, take a deep breath out.
This is the exercise that I use, and it’s directly from Robert Duff, PHD, who is an expert in anxiety and stress management. As you breathe in and out, slowly, with the shapes, just recite these sentences in your head:
“You’ve gotten through this before and you can do it again. I want you to notice this time how you have become just a little bit better than you were last time at dealing with your anxiety. You are here, right now. You are in your body, not outside of it. Take a moment to notice the feeling of your chest expanding and contracting with each breath. Feel the cool air rushing in and the warm air flowing out. This warm air is carrying away your stress and your worry. You’re doing great. Keep it up.
Try to go easy on yourself. You deserve a break right now. Anything that you have going on can wait. I promise you that you will be a better version of yourself after you take this break. You will be able to meet those challenges with more strength and clarity. I have nothing but confidence in you. I don’t know you, so you might wonder how I can claim that confidence… You are here. You decided to take a chance on this. You gave it a shot. You are making a difference for yourself. You have control.
Keep breathing. No need to put pressure on yourself to relax. Just keep filling your lungs and then gently letting go of all of that murky stress. Notice your body. You don’t need to hold that weight anymore. Let it go. Nice and slow. You got this. Feel yourself getting lighter and looser. Your posture has become effortless and you are already feeling a bit different than you did when you started. Now, I want you to imagine in your mind some place that is relaxing to you. Maybe it is the beach, maybe it is in a cozy library in front of the fire, or maybe it is in the middle of a coffee shop in the rain. Now just let yourself be there in that wonderfully relaxing place and continue breathing as long as you would like. This is your time. You deserve this.”
(There are actually receptors inside your chest that react to your breathing. If your breath is shallow, it thinks you’re in an urgent fight or flight situation. Since you’re not actually being chased by a tiger, we have to break this cycle ourselves, consciously.)
Please try this the next time the world is crushing you and you’ll feel better in no time!
Have you got any other tips? Comment below if you like to share!