what to do when you’re anxious

Anxiety has come a-knocking on my door lately so I wanted to share a few tips for how I deal with this unwanted (and sometimes debilitating) guest.

Often when we’re feeling anxious, our first step is to be angry with ourselves thinking: why am I feeling this way? Or, what’s wrong with me and why can’t I “handle” this or that?

We think our anxiety is completely and totally our fault.

We can get frustrated that we can’t “just relax.”

(🙋 Double whammy for me -- my meditations have been played nearly a million times (!!!) to help people relax, yet at times, I am anything but chill. My daughter even told me once in an exasperated voice, "Mama, why are you always rushing me?!?! #gulp #work-in-progress)

Here’s what helps when I'm feeling rushed, stressed or anxious:

1. Feel what you’re feeling and start to name it.

Notice the body sensations you’re experiencing and start to say them aloud to yourself. “This is anxiety. My heart is beating fast. My stomach feels tight. I feel a weight on my chest.”

2. Shift from your head to your heart.

Oftentimes when we’re caught in anxiety, we’re stuck in the thinking mind, and it can be helpful to connect with the heart. Imagine moving your energy from your head to your heart space. Picture yourself breathing in and out from your heart center. Try this five minute meditation to guide you through this process.

3. Take a self-compassion break and talk yourself through it.

You can repeat the following phrases to yourself with your hand on your heart or use this guided meditation to support you.

I’m having a tough time right now and this is uncomfortable.

We all feel anxiety from time to time.

I’m not alone in this.

May I be kind to myself in this moment and give myself the compassion I need.

4. Actively comfort yourself.

Once you've practiced self-compassion, you might feel ready to take action to actively soothe yourself. Perhaps it would feel beneficial to take a walk outside? Or do some deep belly breathing? Or take a few minutes to pause and hold a warm cup of tea? Or call a friend? Take one small action to soothe yourself for feeling this way and remind yourself that you are worth it.

When we stub our toe or otherwise injure ourselves physically, we quickly and automatically comfort ourselves.

Yet when we experience emotional discomfort we are typically slow to acknowledge the pain it causes and even slower to actively comfort ourselves.

I hope these tips help you notice when anxiety or other disturbing emotions are present, so you can remember to be kind and take action to comfort yourself.

You are not alone in getting stressed and anxious from time to time.

And you are worthy and deserving of self-compassion in these moments and all others.