Anxiety can be confusing to understand and sometimes even more confusing to predict. Just when you think you’ve gotten a handle on understanding your symptoms and how to cope with them, you will notice that they always seems to find a way to come popping back up. Often times, it can seem as though doubt, worry, fear, physical pain, or restlessness have arrived and you can’t connect these thoughts or feelings to any specific trigger or stress.
Unfortunately, symptoms always have a reason for popping back into our lives and learning to understand ourselves, our bodies, and our thoughts are truly the best ways to get a handle on our symptoms and start to play offense rather than defense in coping with them.
Why it’s important to understand your triggers
Knowing your triggers and how they affect you and your symptoms is the key to truly get ahead of them. If you know what can lead to increased anxiety or even just bring symptoms to the surface, allows for you to create a plan to best cope with them and decrease the time and severity they will affect you.
#1 - Have a game plan
Now I’m going to tell you how to reduce your symptoms of anxiety and potentially prevent them from popping back up all together. I have to start by saying that what I’m going to ask you to do, will be something you initially might not want to do.
I get it.
I get that taking the time to get ahead of your anxious thoughts and feelings takes work. It can feel annoying to want to put your attention on uncomfortable thoughts and feelings intentionally when you are feeling positive and don’t have any unwanted thoughts present.
But let me tell you…it will be worth it, so stick with me.
Having a game plan is all about understanding your thoughts and feelings as they relate to the anxiety that you experience. Start to think about and write down what causes anxiety for you.
Writing down all of your symptoms of anxiety and what can cause them might seem like a lot of work, or potentially put you in a headspace that you’d like to avoid but let me tell you that by taking this step and taking the time to do this is where you will be able to work on alleviating the symptoms as you experience them and potentially preventing them all together, and that’s the goal.
Beginning this process can be simple. I’d encourage you to think about your thoughts, feelings, and how your body feels.
Staying in-tune with the reactions that we’d like more control over is a way to create a plan to cope rather than react and feel badly for the choice or behavior we engaged in while trying to protect ourselves and get through a difficult moment.
Begin to notice when your body feels more pain or tightness. Your body can truly be a guide to listen to and understand when you might need to slow down and take care of it. Often times when we are going 100 mph in our personal and professional lives, our body is keeping track of the stress we are trying to deflect or avoid. Our bodies hold onto the stress despite us trying to avoid or deny it exists.
It is important to connect each trigger to the thoughts and feelings that you experience alongside of them. Go back to each moment and think about what you were thinking when you felt the anxiety building up in your body. Think about what you were thinking when it hit its peak. What thoughts did you have?
Recognizing your thoughts is the key component for this step, as this is where you’ll start your game plan and start lowering or even eliminating your symptoms all together.
Creating a game plan can simple and I've created a worksheet to guide you through this process.