5 ways to stop anxiety ruining your life
Whether you believe intuition is the wisdom of the subconscious mind, a gut feeling or a sixth spiritual sense, many agree there’s a small voice inside that tries to steer us in the right direction. But how do you know if it’s fear or intuition that’s governing you?
Being able to trust yourself is clearly hugely important. Except anxiety fuels self-doubt so you’re never sure if you’re doing the right thing. Living in a city like London can make it worse. Overwhelmed by choice, bombarded with information and the pace of life – it puts us in fight or flight mode much of the time.
Not to mention the fact that Christmas is one of the busiest, most stressful times of the year with an increased to-do list so downtime takes a hit.
So, how do you find clarity amidst the chaos? It is said that intuition whispers, while fear shouts. When you’re tuned into your intuition, you feel an internal GPS is guiding you. You can follow your inner wisdom and life seems easier and simpler somehow.
DON’T BE AFRAID
If you’re noticing an emotional charge to your thoughts and feelings, and it feels urgent, it’s probably fear talking. Intuition is subtle. It gently nudges in the form of a hunch or a gut feeling. Have you noticed yourself searching for reasons not to take that new job, or plan that solo trip? Chances are fear is taking the wheel.
Emma Bradford, an intuitive coach, recently shared her idea that fear is ‘finding excuses and reasons’. Are you talking yourself out of that opportunity? Instead, ask yourself ‘What would I choose if I knew I couldn’t fail?’
When fearful you often get a strong urge to run away or avoid what’s prompting the fear. In fight or flight mode, the amygdala (the emotional brain that tends to see things in black and white) takes over and the frontal cortex, your rational brain, is subjugated.
The amygdala makes everything seem like an emergency. To be able to listen to your intuition you need to calm down and get out of fight or flight. When in fear mode, you are out of touch with both your intuition and your ability to reason. This is clearly not ideal for decision-making or figuring out what’s best for you.
FACE IT AND WIN
Fear could actually be pointing you towards what’s most important to you. You’re scared of being hurt because what you really crave is love. You’re afraid to take the promotion because your work means so much to you. There is little in life that feels as good as overcoming fear. Your anxiety about, say, speaking in public, could be an invitation for you to learn and grow.
What if your anxiety wasn’t a sign to run away, but a reason to move towards? You won’t get over your social anxiety by staying home from the party. Always remember something that is true for all of us; our fear shrinks when we walk towards it.
FIND YOUR BALANCE: PRACTICAL TIPS FOR CONNECTING TO YOUR INTUITION
GET OUTSIDE: Taking a break, ideally out in nature, while breathing deeply will help to calm your monkey mind so you can listen to your inner wisdom. Make decisions outdoors, away from what makes you feel stressed.
MOVE IT: Exercise uses up excess adrenaline and burns off the extra energy stress and anxiety create, getting us back into relaxation mode more quickly. Exercise calms the mind and the nervous system. Whatever you do, move.
STAY FOCUSED: Don’t use distraction as a way to block out bad emotions. By doing so you also miss out on important information your body wants to communicate. The more you can learn to sit with and notice your feelings the easier it will be to listen to your inner GPS. Sit with your feelings – whatever you’re experiencing is OK.
TAKE TIME OFF: Make sure you don’t leave taking a break until a moment when you have time because other priorities will almost always get in the way. Resting is of equal value to working. Make it easier to stick to it by putting it in your diary. Schedule in that walk, yoga class or reading time.
SHUT OUT THE NOISE: Meditation. The more you quieten your mind and calm your nervous system, the less mental noise there is, and the more you’ll hear the gentle nudges.
Chloe Brotheridge is a hypnotherapist and anxiety expert at Calmer You. She is also the author of The Anxiety Solution: A Quieter Mind, A Calmer You (£12.99, Michael Joseph).