So you get excessively nervous. Anxious. Stressed. And overwhelmed. Things get the better of you and you can’t seem to calm yourself. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Anxiety is so common but thankfully it does respond well to interventions. (Especially anxiety AWARE!)

Your first step to overcoming excessively anxious moments is to show yourself some compassion! Anxiety and related panic attacks can be quite confronting, particularly when they manifest in physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweaty palms or feelings of nausea.

(Read my other articles about anxiety coping strategies here!)

It’s important that you show yourself some grace… it’s ok… anxiety doesn’t define you! It’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to show vulnerability. And most of all, it’s ok to reach out to someone for support! You’re not “weak” or “stupid” or “hopeless” you just need some STRATEGIES!

And one of the best strategies I could ever recommend?

The A.W.A.R.E approach.

This highly regarded approach to the management of anxiety was created by Dr. Aaron Beck, an American Psychiatrist who is recognised globally as the ’father’ of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy … one of the most effective treatments for anxiety, the world over! (And the one I use with nearly all of my anxious clients).

Let me talk you through exactly what anxiety AWARE is all about…

A - Acknowledge and Accept
W - Wait and Watch
A - Actions
R - Repeat
E - End

This approach won’t automatically end your anxious episode but it will allow you to take control of your thoughts, therefore reducing fear and worry that is feeding the growth of your overwhelm.

A - Acknowledge and Accept

By being aware of and accepting the anxious thoughts we stop a) trying to fight them off or b) deny them… neither of which will help. This is the point at which you want to start providing rational counter statements to your fears and worries. “I am safe.” “This fear is IMAGINED fear.” “I AM loveable, with OR without anxiety.” Perhaps you can think of your own right now?

W - Wait and Watch

Something that might help you in this phase is creating distance between yourself and the anxiety. Imagine looking at the anxiety as if it was separate to you. Focus on the fact that it isn’t you and that you aren’t ­it.  Accept the thoughts as they ‘wash’ over you.

Remember that feelings are not facts. You may feel scared or overwhelmed but you are not scared or overwhelmed… your thoughts are scaring or overwhelming you and thoughts do pass! By ‘watching’ your anxiety you familiarise yourself with the way it operates thus giving yourself valuable information which will help you if or when the next attack happens. In the past I have had clients bring in hand written thought logs which detailed exactly what they were thinking during the attack. Written notes can be particularly helpful when a therapist is trying to get to the bottom of your anxious thoughts.

A - Actions

This is exactly what it sounds like TAKING ACTION! Basically you want to be doing anything that makes you feel less tense and overwhelmed in the moment. In order to settle your nerves you’ll need to find strategies that work for YOU! Maybe it’s slow deep belly breathing, maybe it’s going for a walk, or maybe it’s turning on some relaxing music. Whatever you find that works… keep doing it as you gently calm yourself through the anxiety.

R - Repeat

Short and sweet …. If the symptoms return moments after you thought they’d settled… rinse and repeat! Start with A, then W etc.

E - End

Yes! Anxiety related panic attacks DO end! In the thick of it all you may not feel like you’ll ever feel better again but, my friend, YOU WILL! Repeat over and over if you must “This too shall pass” “This too shall pass” “This too shall pass”…. until it has passed. Again, imagine your thoughts as waves, they wash in and slowly they wash back out. You WILL be ok. x

 
 
So there you have it… your done-for-you tips for surviving excessive anxiety using the anxiety AWARE approach.

Of course I hope you find it useful. If you do, I’d love for you to share the article with friends and family who many also need these tips.

If you’d like to work with me you feel free to learn more about me and my services. Support sessions are available Australia wide. It would be my absolute pleasure to help you move through and past anxiety because despite what your anxiety has convinced you, anxiety doesn’t have to be a life sentence! You just have to be anxiety AWARE. Remember, help is only a phone call or an email away.

Until next week…

Yours in better mental health,

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Erica Rundle

Erica has a passion for Women’s Health. She works with women who want to be heard, supported and empowered! Erica is a survivor of many life experiences. A Mum. A travel lover. A green thumb in training and an eternal optimist!

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