Written by: Gabrielle Haili, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Anxiety is a monster of a roadblock. I remember when I used to wake up with anxiety because I was stressed about not knowing how to write a blog. I felt like what I had to say was not that important. I was recycling thoughts that said, “I’m not a good writer, I don’t know how to write. Nothing I write makes sense.” These heavy thoughts kept me from improving my skills for a year because I would procrastinate rather than face my anxiety. Have you ever felt that you were standing in your own way like I was?
I’ve struggled with anxiety for a large part of my life, and because of that, I was able to experiment with many methods of handling my anxiety. Through trial and error, I found a method that works on even the busiest days.
These 3 quick and easy steps will help you learn how to disrupt anxiety as soon as you wake up, move through those moments when your thoughts won’t shut up, and silence the thoughts of self-criticism any time life challenges you…
Regardless of the challenges you face, these 3 foundational steps will help you consistently disrupt anxiety before it takes over your day.
Reprogram Your Brain
Do you ever wake up with an anxious feeling in your chest before the day has even started? Something to keep in mind when you're dealing with anxiety is to remember that emotions are caused by repeated specific thoughts that cause the body to react. For example, if you don’t like leading meetings, and you think about how you’re not looking forward to it, this will cause you to feel resistance towards doing it.
When you wake up, it’s crucial to disrupt the thoughts that are creating the anxious energy. You can do this by reprogramming your brain and moving away from these heavy thoughts. Start your day with 5-10 minutes of heart-pumping exercise while repeating to yourself affirmations that feel truthful.
For example, while jumping on your rebounder for 10 minutes, spin “I suck at leading meetings,” into “I am resourceful. With practice, I can learn to confidently lead meetings even if I don’t like doing it.” Repeat this new affirmation for 10 minutes. Here’s another spin. “No one is born being great at leading meetings. It takes practice. I have always been able to move forward when I practice.”
The trick is to spin the heavy thoughts until they feel truthful and better overall.
Slow down your thoughts before they spiral out of control
What about those moments when you’re in the middle of a meeting and your thoughts won’t shut up? They make up things like, “Jerry always knows the answers to all the questions, I’m lost all the time.” Or “Sarah remembers everything in the meeting, but I can’t remember shit. What’s wrong with me?” And on and on it goes. I call this spiraling, and it happens to us all. Once the momentum gets going, it’s harder and harder to stop; even when you tell yourself to stop, it doesn't work.
In my experience, the best way to keep from spiraling is by focusing on something else that doesn’t take a lot of your attention. My favorite thing to do is practice coming into the present moment by becoming aware of my body. I start with my toes and work my way up my body. If you couldn't see your toes, how would you know that they’re still there? Feel your toes.
Another great practice is to focus on your breathing. Notice if your breath is short & quick. If it is, transition to full inhales and exhales, ensuring you can see your belly move and your chest rise. What I love about these methods is you can do them during your zoom meeting while you're showing your face and no one would know!
No matter what your approach, becoming present can help slow down and stop the spiraling thoughts.
Notice how seriously unbalanced the ratio is between self-praise vs. self-criticism
Have you ever noticed how much you compliment yourself? Yeah… me neither. If you’re like me, you’ve spent most of your time criticizing yourself for not knowing enough or not being enough... Self-compliments are rare to come by unless you’re actively going out of your way to practice appreciation. But seriously… Why is it that we go out of our way to compliment others, but when it comes to doing it for ourselves, we get nada???
The self-praise to self-criticism ratio is seriously unbalanced.
You can balance the scales by acknowledging and writing 3 wins at the end of the workday. For example, “I exercised today!”, “I stopped my hyperventilating by taking deep breaths”, “I’m writing my wins!”, etc. If you have more, go crazy! Write more!
Of course, it’s important to understand that information does not equal transformation… Just because you now understand how to disrupt anxiety before it takes over your day, that doesn’t mean it’s going away tomorrow. The key to transformation is consistent action. You must practice these points consistently to see change. Spin your heavy thoughts while exercising. Enter the present moment to slow down and stop the spiraling thoughts. Write your daily wins.
As with all learning, it probably won’t feel “natural” or “authentic” and that’s ok. You’re working on something that took root a long time ago. I suggest you start out with 1, 2, or even all 3 of these and like a scientist, experiment on yourself for the next 30 days. See for yourself the movement you can make towards transforming your anxiety through any of life's challenges.
Gabrielle Haili, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Gabrielle Haili is a transformational life coach and the founder of Boldly Free, LLC. She is passionate about helping impact-driven women heal from lingering traumas so they can transform their lives, businesses, and relationships. The content of her life became the curriculum for her evolution. For most of her life, she endured mental illness, substance abuse, and suicidal tendencies as a result of traumatic experiences including sexual abuse from childhood into her mid-twenties, the loss of her brother at 21 years young, and surviving a life-threatening narcissistic relationship. As a result of going through those experiences, her mission is to help people heal from trauma and raise the level of consciousness of 1 billion people. In her coaching programs, she loves to talk about self-awareness, disidentifying from thoughts, transforming emotions, and embracing boundaries.