Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
I don’t know about you, but I always get butterflies in my stomach at this time of year. The holidays are over, and real life is lying in wait, just where I left it.
What can you do when you need to get on, but you’ve been ambushed by your worries?
Here's how to get from uneasy to unruffled – whenever you need to ...
Need it now? The oh-no-here-it-comes plan
When anxiety is washing over you, it’s no time to be thinking about those shiny plans to sort out your whole life. You need help right now. So here’s the low-down:
1 Slow down the runaway train
You’ve heard this one before, and it really works …
Breathe gently through your nose, and sigh out slowly through your mouth. This mimics the way your body responds to being safe and calm, and so it relieves tension. Pay attention to every second, especially the tiny, silent pause before you breathe in again. Keep going until you feel your whole body relaxing.
And if you’re a person who likes to use props, here’s a tip from one of my clients who used to suffer frightening panic attacks. She carries a balloon everywhere with her. Because … when you blow up a balloon, you automatically use long, deep, slow breaths, which have a miraculous calming effect. (Please, not when driving or cooking crepes Suzette.)
2 Activate your circuit-breaker
Raid your smile resources (this takes a bit of putting together in advance). Have ready to hand anything that reliably makes you smile – funny YouTube clips, happy family photos, favourite songs that calm and uplift you (listen or better still sing along), that travel site with the fantastic beach/lakeside log cabin/bird-watching reserve. This is very individual and the possibilities are endless.
One of my clients, a nervous driver, keeps a funny card from her son in her glove box and puts it on the passenger seat when she’s on a tricky journey. Glancing at it makes her feel warm and smiley, and that puts things into perspective. (I know, it’s not going to solve all your life problems, but we’re talking first aid here.)
Thinking ahead? The get-your-ducks-in-a-row plan
There’s lots you can do to build up your resources so you don’t get gripped by anxiety attacks. These next three tips will help you tame the beast …
3 Get some sanity-saving perspective
Got a minute? Pour yourself your favourite drink, and fetch a pen or open a new document. Here comes a question for you.
What in your life, including everything – relationships, your surroundings, work stuff – is gnawing away at you in the background? Get it all down.
Getting this stuff out of your head, to somewhere you can see it properly, gives you more control. Instead of being a frightening, amorphous monster with free rein to maraud around in your mind, it’s confined to the small space on your piece of paper or your screen.
This will already feel better, because things will look clearer and less scary.
4 Start to change things for the better
Pick one of those anxiety-creating things. Let’s say it’s clutter. (I’m choosing that because I know more about it than I care to admit.) Let’s say you walk into your kitchen/bedroom/study/garage and though you pretend not to notice, your heart sinks. It’s too overwhelming to even think of sorting it all out in one go. So don’t. Instead, think of one small, doable thing. And do that.
Same goes for whatever it is that’s interfering with your sang-froid.
5 Get support, from outside or in
When you hit the tough Big-Worry times, what works the magic for you – getting together with people who support you, or connecting with your inner space? If both, feel free to read both these tips :)
If it’s a meet-up with your nearest and dearest that does it, wire that in to your life. Set up a regular get-together in your calendar so you deepen those relationships, and then that support is right on tap when you need it most.
If you’re a reflective soul whose batteries are recharged by silence, plan for a time when you can completely disconnect – from people, phones and Pods, yes all of it, what bliss.
It’s much easier to slip into a nurturing sacred space when it’s already a regular feature in your life.
Finally, worrying about things is pretty much wired-in to our human nature. So try not to worry about being worried, because with some deep breaths and your favourite calming strategies for brain and body, you can lovingly ease yourself back into the game.
As always, if these tips don’t cut it and you need support to tackle a more significant anxiety challenge, then I’m here to help. Just get in touch and we’ll set you on the road to cucumber coolness.