Do you suffer from anxiety? If so, you’re not alone.
There are millions of people around the world that do, with many of those people being on the autism spectrum.
Often times people suffer from anxiety without even fully being aware or comprehending the reasons why.
Anxiety is connected to fear. Anxiety can cause fear, and fear can cause anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious, whatever you’re worried about may be real or imagined.
We get anxiety when we are worried that something bad is happening or will happen to us. Perhaps we’re afraid of getting hurt, being put in a situation that we’re uncomfortable with, scared of losing something, afraid of change.
While it’s best to address the cause, sometimes it’s simply not possible and we are forced to cope.
So what can we do about it? Are there things we can do to reduce our anxiety in the moment we experience it?
1. Ground yourself in reality.
Bring yourself to the present reality. Often times when we are anxious, we are so focused on whatever is causing us to feel that way, that we can forget about everything else.
To break out of that thought pattern, you can use what’s known as the 3-3-3 Rule. Take note of 3 things that you see, 3 things that you hear, and then move 3 things (ie. move your hand, stomp your foot, twitch your nose).
Another tactic is to try to think about what your surroundings are made of. If you’re sitting in a chair, ask yourself what materials were used to make it? How was it assembled? By focusing on things in your environment, it brings you into the present and the physical world.
2. Reset your perspective.
Stop and ask yourself questions about the thing that you’re anxious about it…
What is the chance that it would actually happen? Do you have all the facts and can say with certainty that things would play out as you think?
What is the worst case scenario? Is it really that bad? Are there any past situations that are similar and something bad happened and that you couldn’t overcome or recover?
The primary goal of this line of questioning is to determine whether whatever you’re feeling anxious about is either real or imagined and the degree of threat or danger.
Our fears can be categorized into 3 things – fear of loss, fear of harm, and fear of change.
Fear of harm could include emotional harm or reputation. Perhaps you’re afraid you’ll make a mistake and people will make fun of you. Or maybe you’re afraid you will lose something important to you, perhaps lose a friend or lose access to something. Or maybe you’re afraid that you will be forced to make some change you’re uncomfortable with or don’t want to make.
Sometimes it’s best to get some outside opinions on the matter from those who understand you. This is where a good support network would come in handy. If you don’t have that, it’s ok, just do the best you can with what you have.
Once you assess the reality of the situation, work on changing your perspective. Is the bad thing you fear will happen so bad that you can’t possibly recover? Are you really willing to give up whatever good opportunities or rewards that could result if things went well?
Try to think of ways the situation could change for the better. Chances are things aren’t actually as bad as you think.
Take a deep breathe. In… out…. and again.. in… out…
With controlled breathing, you are again pulling yourself into the present and focusing your attention on something you can control – your breathing.
This activity can be quite calming. If you don’t want to breathe deeply like that, you can do any repetitive type of activity or motion, such as rocking or bouncing your leg if you’re sitting down.
4. Do some physical activity.
Any physical type of activity like walking, jogging, or exercise is known to naturally reduce stress levels. It is especially helpful if you spend time outdoors in nature.
Take a walk in a park or go around the neighborhood. If you can’t get away from the situation, taking a break to leave the room to be alone for a few minutes may help.
If you can’t get away from other people, maybe spend some time in the restroom and try to do some calming activity like breathing.
Whatever you do, when you’re anxious, don’t focus your thoughts on whatever is causing your anxiety or how upset you are or what others will think of you. Focus on something positive. Things are probably not as bad as you think they are or fear they could be.
5. Change your body position.
If you are sitting down, try to sit up straight. If you are standing, stand up straight. Think of someone brave or strong that you admire. Stand or sit like you think they would.
By physically changing our position, we can alter how we feel. If we are in a more confident, brave position, we will feel more confident or brave. If we hide or cower, we will feel more helpless and weak.
To reduce your anxiety, don’t allow yourself to maintain a position that reinforces that feeling.
6. Pray or meditate.
Regardless of whether you believe in God or not, this activity can be a powerful way to attain peace and calm your mind and body.
When you pray or meditate, you are essentially redirecting your thoughts away from whatever is causing your anxiety, and instead looking either to an external power source or within yourself for strength.
Prayer seeks the help of an external power that has infinite strength and means far beyond human capability, while meditation seeks to tap into your human powers of mind and body.
It works because you are basically reframing the situation, asserting you have power over it to overcome in some way, and finding hope in a positive resolution.
7. Use “I AM” statements to reset your thinking and focus on the goals you have for the future.
Who are you? Where are you going in life? Where are you going to be in 5 years? How are you going to impact the world? What character traits does the best version of yourself have? How would the best version of you handle the situation?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then you really should take the time to sit down and figure it out.
A personal compass can help you to figure out who you are, where you’re going, and why it’s important to you. Here’s a video by Dan O’Connor a professional communication trainer that teaches you how to make a personal compass.
Dan O’Connor has a lot of great videos on communication that can help you build social skills and communicate better with people, build relationships, and so much more.
8. Use a fidget toy or do something that keeps your hands busy.
When I start to feel anxious, I often reach for my fidget cube or fidget keychain. The repetitive movements and the ability to hold something physical in my hand has really helped me.
Although it doesn’t relieve the anxiety, it does provide some comfort in a stressful situation.
9. Have hope.
When you have hope that things will turn out well, then there’s nothing to fear. By simply having confidence that the situation will have a positive outcome, you will significantly reduce or even eliminate your anxiety.
Focus on the positive result and experience it. Imagine what it will feel like. Try to experience the emotions and feelings of it and how great it will be. Think about all the rewards of success and how it could change your life. Is it realistic? Is it really possible? What are the risks?
Always evaluate the situation carefully and realistically, but don’t let anxiety hold you back or steal your hope of a happy and successful life.
10. Use your mind to overcome your fears.
I learned a lot from Brendon Burchard. He has been a positive voice that has been cheering me on through his books and videos. His logical and powerful advice has helped me a lot over the years. Thank you Brendon!
Here are a couple videos Brendon did about fear and anxiety.
These are some of the simple, yet effective, ways I’ve used to help reduce my own anxiety.
The program takes a natural, holistic approach and has a 3-step plan that will help you cure your anxiety for good.
What do you do to reduce your anxiety? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂
43 total views, 2 views today
Hi! I’m Lisa Anthony, the founder and editor of Life with Asperger’s.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was 29.
If you need help with anything, I’m here!