13 Steps to Overcome Anxiety

13 Steps to Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety takes up space in so many lives and the human condition is to look for a quick fix for it. Maybe it’s in the form of supplements, medications, or talk therapy. And those may help to an extent, but never seem to solve the problem because you’ve only looked outside yourself for the “fix”. When you go inside and reconnect with your body, you can start to feel the true sense of safety you have been longing for. By adopting just one of these modalities as an everyday practice, it can make all the difference. It does take time, consistency, and awareness to start experiencing shifts. And sometimes those shifts are so minor that you have to keep looking back to see what has changed. Essentially, you are bringing your pre-frontal cortex (your consciousness) back online so that the subconscious is no longer running the show.

I want to share some of the tools I have found so beneficial for calming the nervous and limbic systems. There are multiple factors to consider regarding what works best for each type of person. Temperament and personality can also play a role. Ultimately, if you decide to take on individual modalities or join a program that teaches multiple tools, what resonates best will come to the surface and that is what you will use.

My List:

 

  • Meditation:

This is typically the low-hanging fruit and a go-to for many doctors to recommend. But listen, not everyone is cut out to meditate. Some people have short attention spans, others have nervous systems that are on fire and their body cannot bring itself to a calm enough state to experience the benefits. That is why you need to figure out what works for you based on where you are at in your healing journey of anxiety or illness. If you are ready for meditation, there are so many on YouTube. Start with some gentler, shorter guided practices such as yoga nidra and as you get more ingrained, maybe look into Joe Dispenza’s practices.

  • EFT:

Also known as Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a type of tapping on acupressure points while making statements to move energy and get into the subconscious. This has helped me when I’ve felt really stuck in the journey and needed to move some negative energy out. There is also something called Faster EFT. I still use this as needed. It helps me when I can’t let go of a thought that keeps coming back. Emphasize the word thought. You are not trying to get rid of an emotion. I used to think it was helpful for emotions I thought I “shouldn’t” feel. But when you say to yourself “I shouldn’t be feeling this way” that is invalidating how you truly feel. If you feel guilt, if you feel shame, if you feel anger, for any reason, acknowledge it. Feel into it. Send love and compassion to yourself. Saying you shouldn’t feel that way and trying to tap away the emotion will only make you feel it more. What we resist persists.

emotional freedom technique guideline

  • Pattern Interrupts:

You are going to find this at the core of any brain rewiring program. This is a top-down approach. Once you have identified the looping thoughts that are attached to old belief patterns- such as self-criticism, worrying about what others think, worrying about eating a certain food. When those thoughts come up, you identify the thought, recognize it is just a looping memory structure, and interrupt that thought. If that thought won’t go away or you are triggered into full rumination and compulsion (such as going online to research), this is where you can implement a form of EFT or a full “round”. Rounds typically include acknowledging a thought, stopping the thought, using an affirmation, and then visualization. That is the high level of it. If that resonates, I would recommend signing up for a brain rewiring program or working with a coach.

  • Somatics:

Also known as a bottom-up approach. This is getting back into the body and feeling our emotions and where the energy is stored in the body. There are multiple types of somatic practices. All tend to be very gentle but are intended to bring you back into the current moment, staying within yourself and not detaching. If you are curious about this, look up somatic tracking.

  • Orienting:

This is a form of somatics. Your subconscious and your conscious don’t typically speak the same language. When you are in a state of panic and your limbic system thinks a bear chasing you, telling yourself to calm down or that you are safe won’t always do the trick. You need to FEEL safety in your body to show your subconscious it’s ok. You can do this with orienting, a type of somatic practice. To do this you identify an object outside of yourself and discover all aspects of that object. How would it feel to touch it, hold it, etc.? Use your 5 senses. Then come back into your body while still looking at that object. Where are your hands? Are they folded in your lap? Are they hot, or cold? What sensations do you feel? And then do that again. This has helped me move out of a state of fear very quickly.

  • Grounding:

Put your bare feet in the dirt. Sounds gross right? Well, it might be if you have a lot of bugs in your soil, but the benefit of decreasing inflammation is huge. Sometimes when I’m walking my dog and I start feeling panic, I’ll take my shoes off, touch a tree, and just stand in the grass. I also envision roots going from my feet into the earth. If you don’t have grass or trees near where you live, there are grounding mats you can buy on Amazon such as Earth and Moon (that’s the one I have).

  • Energy Medicine:

One of my favorites. There are individual exercises you can do to release old energy and bring in light and love. A popular energy practice is Reiki. There are many Reiki practitioners out there easily searchable online. This can be done in person or remote.

  • Guided Breath-Work:

This takes somatic work and energy and combines them. Advanced breathwork, such as circular breathing, is not for the faint of heart and should be done with a practitioner. That type of breathwork really works on energy to bring it to the surface to be expelled from the body. It’s a true somatic release and it is so freeing. There are multiple levels of breathwork. Some more gentle breathwork practices can be done at home such as 1:1 breathing and 4-7-8 breath which are slow, deep breathing practices.

  • Vagal Toning:

If you’ve ever heard of Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, this can be a great a-ha moment to understand what’s going on with you. This one is so big I am going to dedicate an entire future post to explaining this and the Vagus nerve. If you aren’t familiar, I implore you to look it up now. Easy practices can be gargling as hard as you can multiple times a day or humming to a song for two minutes and building up.

polyvagal chart

  • Guided Inquiry:

Byron Katie created a process of self-inquiry to allow us to question stressful thoughts. Notably, you notice a stressful thought and go through a series of four questions, including “Is this true?”. If you don’t know who she is I recommend looking her up. The questions she brings up can help anyone struggling with old belief patterns that aren’t helpful

  • Heart Brain Coherence:

One of my favorites! I try to do this every single day. At least once, whether that is breathing into my heart center or doing a full gratitude practice, I always feel the beautiful effects in all the cells of my body. HeartMath and Joe Dispenza’s work deal a lot with heart-brain coherence. There are several free practices and meditations on YouTube and you can go to the HeartMath Institute’s website for more information.

Quick coherence technique here

shadow person with heart and brain

  • Journaling:

There are many types of journaling practices. One is expressive writing. Maybe you have ruminating thoughts or a mind that just won’t quit. Sit down with a pen and paper and just write out your stream of consciousness. Don’t think, just write. When you are done, rip off the paper and throw it away. How cathartic this practice is! Another type of journaling process I’ve learned is to write how you are feeling (again, without thinking), and to look back and discover trigger words you wrote out without realizing. A lot of times this can be emotional words such as sad, scared, and angry. It can give you a lot of insight into where your focus needs to go when you are creating awareness of your patterns.

  • Sound Healing:

I love sound healing! You can go to a sound bath in person or participate in one over Zoom. It can be so grounding and relaxing. We are energy. Our cells are energy. Everything is energy. And when you incorporate the frequencies of sound healing, it can do wonders for your cells. There is a beautiful video floating out there in the social media world about a guy who played different guitar notes that elicited different frequencies out by a lake. With each strum of the guitar, you could see the bugs “dance” on the water. It is so telling about the power of sound.

Brittany Langstaff

Brittany is a nervous system and transformational coach who helps clients uncover and challenge the limiting beliefs holding them back from living the life they want.