Does self-doubt tend to creep into your mind at the worst possible times? Does it convince you not to pursue opportunities? Why? You’re bright. You’re talented. You have a lot to offer. Yet, you sometimes feel so anxious that you know it’s holding you back. You could achieve so many things if anxiety weren’t killing your confidence.
Here’s how to wrestle your anxiety and move forward:
Talk to Yourself Like a Friend
Think about what you would tell a friend who was struggling with anxiety and low self-confidence. Chances are, you would point out all their good traits and talents. Perhaps you would remind them that others will value their for these same traits. Now, apply the same attitude toward yourself and give yourself a pep talk.
Eat the Right Foods
What you put into your body has a profound effect on how well you function. You may already know the advice about avoiding junk food and limiting caffeine, both of which increase your anxiety. But it’s also important to intentionally choose to eat foods that calm your anxiety. Focus on eating lots of dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, berries and legumes.
Practice Relaxation and Mindfulness
You can learn how to quiet your mind, but it’s going to take some conscious effort. Try progressive relaxation, in which you relax each of your body parts in succession. You may also want to try meditation, yoga or journaling. But the key is to start these practices during calm times to train your mind. Just like you don’t learn to drive during a tornado, you can’t learn calming techniques during a storm of anxiety.
Explore Worst-Case Scenarios
Many people experience anxiety via racing thoughts and a vague sense of doom. Not surprisingly, these types of thoughts can easily spiral out of control. It may seem counterintuitive to think you can make things better by imagining the worst, but try it. Exaggerate your fears to their worst possible outcome. When you do so, you will likely begin to see that the worries you have aren’t that bad.
Breathe Through It
Focus on the calming power of your breath. Even though this is a well-known technique for managing anxiety, it’s one worth considering more seriously. Breathe in slowly through your nose and count to three. Release your breath just as deliberately to the same slow 3-count. Choose to intentionally slow down your breath by taking a pause between the inhale and exhale. This technique works to bring your heart rate back down to normal, so you will actually relax and feel the anxiety going away.
Reframe Your Anxiety as Excitement
It may sound ridiculous, but reframing your anxiety can make situations more manageable. Researchers at Harvard found that relabeling anxiety as excitement improved performance. A lot of our reactions to situations come from expectations and perspectives. Learning to reframe the feeling of anxiety is a perspective shift that can make you feel calmer.
Give Your Worries a Time Limit
One of the most unproductive aspects of anxiety is that you likely run the same thoughts over and over in your mind like a loop. Focusing your attention on the same repeated thoughts doesn’t help you to resolve worries, but keeps you trapped in them. Instead, choose to give yourself a clear time limit for worrying. Set aside 15-20 minutes for thinking about all the things that are troubling you. (Try the exercise of writing them down in a notebook, then you can go back to the list later and see that most of them never came true!) Then, do a brain dump of all your worries, move on, and get back to life.
Anxiety doesn’t have to kill your self-confidence. When you master your anxiety, you’ll see how much you can achieve.
Take the first step…
There are many ways to treat anxiety these days that do not involve medication or years of therapy. You can truly get to a point where your anxiety is a thing of the past.
If you’re ready to take a step toward dealing with your anxiety, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT