Before I was ever diagnosed with anxiety, I’ve always been a bit of a worrier. I remember when I was around 9 years old, my best friend at the time asked me to spend the day with her at her grandmothers charity shop. I said yes. But I desperately didn’t want to go. So I stopped eating. I was 9 years old. And I haven’t realised how momentous that was until now. Nervousness has never been my friend.
During my teen years, I never really experienced any anxiety or nervousness at all, on the surface. I was incredibly confident, loud and outgoing. A far cry from any of the words I’d use to describe myself now. But under the surface, I think I was still low key nervous about things going on around me.
And then as soon as my anxiety hit, I’ve experienced nervousness and anxiety like never before. I never in my life thought I’d feel as anxious about literally anything (I suffer with GAD, so I’m kinda low key anxious 24/7 about everything and nothing all at once).
These days, my senses are incredibly heightened. Sometimes, I’ll just wake up and something will feel “off”, which will have me feeling anxious for the entire day. But more so, actual events make me incredibly nervous. My boyfriend going on a plane. A doctors appointment. Even social events. It’s pretty exhausting.
I’ve had counselling and therapy throughout my anxiety journey. One thing my counselor said to me that’s always stuck was:
“You can worry about every potential scenario possible but the thing that actually happens will always be the thing that you didn’t think of”.
And for most cases, she was right. I learnt a lot from her. And I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the years of having anxiety too. But today I want to share my coping strategy for calming your nerves, a strategy which has really helped and after a bit of practice, can really help you too.
How do I deal with calming my nerves?
As well as practicing Yoga and meditation religiously over the last few years which has helped me massively, these other techniques have really proved beneficial and can help with calming your nerves quite a bit. Of course it’s not a miracle cure. And as always, if you’re really suffering, your GP should always be your first call.
Break it down
If it’s a particular event which has my nerves on edge, then breaking things down is a life saver. For example, when I had my hospital appointment for my colposcopy, my nerves were in tatters. So in order to cope (otherwise I would have literally had a breakdown), I broke down the day into sections.
So instead of looking at it as a whole, I broke it down into smaller parts. Part one was getting ready for the appointment. Two was making my way to the hospital. Part 3 was getting to the right department. And so on. A bit like how you might break down a particularly daunting work task into smaller tasks. This is exactly what I did.
Focus on one thing at a time
And within all those little sections of things you need to do in order to get through your nerves, really focus on one at a time. This bit is probably the hardest but after practice (which meditation, mindfulness and Yoga all come in particularly handy for) it does get easier and you can train yourself to zone in and block everything else out to a degree.
Remind yourself of what’s gone right
Often, when we’re in the midst of nerves, we look at the big picture and think what a disaster. Sometimes, the big picture can be detrimental to what we’re trying to achieve. So as well as breaking things down into more manageable tasks and focusing on those individual tasks, it can also really help to remind yourself of what’s going or gone well.
When we’re so nervous about something, we often forget to think about the positive because we’re so wrapped up with trying not to vomit or cry. But actually if you take a step back, the whole thing might not be as bad as what it feels like on the inside.
Going back to my example of my colposcopy appointment, if I successfully managed to get myself ready and get my bag together with everything I need without getting too worked up, that’s a bloody positive thing. If I safely made it to the hospital in one piece and on time then that’s amazing too.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the small stuff. The small achievements along the way to what originally seemed like the biggest, scariest and most daunting task of your life are what really matter. Because all those little things add up and suddenly, you’ve got through it. It sucked. But you did it.
What strategies do you use for calming your nerves? Will you take this with you and give it a go the next time something anxiety provoking comes up?
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Yesss. Thanks for these great tips. I always find that counting my blessings aka focusing on what’s gone right helps to calm me down a bit.
That’s a really helpful thing to do x
I think I’ve also always been somewhat of a natural worrier, so finally being diagnosed with social anxiety wasn’t a massive shock to me. These tips are great, I’ll definitely be using them x
Hope they help z
Writing things down always calms my mind – or at least makes me feel more in control of things.
I often recommend it as a tool for clients too
It definitely makes me feel more in control in a weird way!
This is such an incredibly helpful post, Jenny! I also have anxiety and although I think it’s getting a tiny bit easier, I had never thought about your strategy of breaking tasks/days down like that. That’s honestly genius! I will definitely be trying that out next time something daunting pops up.
Beth x Adventure & Anxiety
Hope it helps!
I’ve reread this post about three times. Such useful advice!
Imogen’s Typewriter. <3
As someone who also struggles with anxiety, this helped a lot. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your heart and your tips. I will definitely becoming back to this post. 🙂
Hope it helps you when you need it!
This is an incredible post!! I never thought to break my anxiety into parts! Like you my mind goes hyperactive and tells me only the bad things. Going to use these tips!
Daisy xoxo | TheDeeWhoLived
Hope they help!
This is such a helpful post! I do not suffer from anxiety but I am a huge worrier and some of your coping mechanisms will really help me too!
I’m very thankful that I’ve never had anxiety but I know that if I’m ever stressed or overwhelmed that taking things one at a time and remembering to take a minute to breathe really helps X
Thanks for sharing. I’m going to try this approach as nothing else is working for me lately.
I don’t suffer with anxiety but this post is great, and so helpful, and from reading the comments it’s lovely that some people have found this so helpful! I do find that writing things down always really helps me if something is boring me. Thanks for sharing x
Kayleigh Zara 🌿 http://www.kayleighzaraa.com
Writing things down is SO helpful!
Great post, with some helpful tips! I haven’t posted in quite some time and would really appreciate your thoughts on my new piece ‘family’😊
These are so helpful! I totally agree that focusing on what’s good is so beneficial at times xx
It sure is!
During my GCSE exams I became incredibly anxious all the time and Rescue Remedy was really helpful for me. I’m not entirely sure if it was a placebo effect or not but it gave me peace of mind to carry on as normal! Now I practice yoga and mindfulness to deal with the minor stresses of everyday life. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Jenny! xx
El // Welsh Wanderer
Definitely not placebo! I loved that too!
For my anxiety, what helps is taking a bit of time away from people and break my task to bite size pieces 😀
Yeah spending some time alone massively helps me too. Sometimes constantly chatter can be too much.
Omg, yes. The massive amount of chatter and cluttered thoughts makes me just crave for a bit of alone time.
Great Post. I suffer from anxiety since the birth of my 3rd son. I think it developed on from pnd. I’m going to refer back to this when I’m feeling really bad.
Sounds like you could be right there. Maybe it’s worth talking to someone about it.
I really appreciate the tips. I think the one I like best is thinking about the positive in the midst of what your mind will automatically deem as a negative. It’s a fight and struggle everyday. I’ve also found comfort in a bible verse Philippians 4:6,7 not to be anxious over anything but to give it to God through prayer and supplication. Thanks for sharing.
Great post Jenny, I find breaking things down really helpful for me. I suffer with anxiety as well, and have done since I was a little girl and growing up it got worse and worse for me, but for the last few years I’ve been trying so hard to cope with it better. I get days where I’m anxious to go to work and I end up going through a bit at a time, getting ready to go, the walk there, the first hour.. and so on and that really helps calm me down. Thanks for sharing!
Really glad to hear that technique works so well for you!
I do a similar breakdown, but I also research where I’m going to see if I can figure out what types of lights/noises/levels of peoples I can expect and try to anticipate if sensory issues are going to become problematic on top of anxiety and what I can do to get around that.
Practical example would be when I was waiting at the dental phobia clinic (which always runs late) and in the adjoining health centre they were doing some work with one of my specific bad noises and I couldn’t block it out, so I went and sat in the car and Dad queued for me and got me when the dentist was ready.
That’s a good idea!
This is so helpful, especially as I suffer with anxiety too. I totally agree about reminding yourself of what’s gone right. It’s so easy to let things build and build and for it to feel like everything is and always has been a disaster but when we stop and think, there can be so many good things to be found xx
Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk
Focusing on thing is something I’m trying to do more often as at times I worry about everything and anything while doing anything.
Thanks for sharing this post, I greatly needed it.
Loren | Plaid & Sugar
Sounds like me too!
Reminding myself of what has gone right is definitely something I’m doing more of lately, it does help!
Love, Amie ❤
The Curvaceous Vegan
It sure does!
Focusing on what’s done, what went right, and tackling one thing at a time are my 3 most important goals when I feel like I’m getting overwhelmed with panic and anxiety. It helps a lot to do one thing at a time, to focus on the small things I CAN do instead of the big things I have no control over 🙂
That sounds like an excellent idea!
Reading really helps my anxiety x
I love that you mentioned on the list of the importance of reminding ourselves of what has gone right. I think that is so important. sometimes we loose sight of our progress cause we are paying to much attention to our current circumstance.
We really do!
I try to focus on the small bits I can control, and celebrate those small victories. I meditate too, and read books all to calm the mind x
I wish I could read when I’m anxious but I just can’t focus!
My daughter is the same, she does audible books
Yep I totally agree! That’s really good advice about breaking something down into small parts – I’ll suggest that to my partner. I find what helps is to plan and write stuff down – if I’m anxious about an upcoming project, for instance, I’ll spend time working out a plan and then once it’s clearer in my head my anxiety eases.
Such a good idea. I always have plans and go through things in my head over and over so I feel more assured about the situation x
Like you say, anxiety is so exhausting! I think nervous exhaustion is really just five percent nerves, and the other ninety-five percent is the exhaustion.
But breaking a problem or event down is such a good idea. When I’m stressed about something, I struggle to remember what I actually need to do. So just planning one step at a time helps me cope with it, one step at a time. Break the problem down before it breaks you down!
I totally agree. I’m really anxious about something this week and I’ve been exhausted for about a week with anxiety and nerves.
Oh crikey, I hope whatever it is you’re particularly anxious about is out of the way soon 😟 I try to remember that Chinese saying, ‘this too will pass’.
Gosh I needed this. As soon as anything that I perceive as ‘wrong’ happening my mind instantly jumps to 1001 worse case scenarios and it’s very hard for me to think of anything positive when I’m trapped in that mode. I really need to start doing things like you mentioned such as breaking things down and trying, really trying, to look at the positives!
Oh gosh I feel you! I often do that too!
I think appreciating and loving all the little things is one of the best ways to stay calm and focused. It feels so good to finish something and put a little tick next to it on a list.
When I start to get nervy, walking away and focusing on something else is usually a big help. It is easy to think of how something can go wrong and reminding oneself of the things that have gone right is a great way to find courage.
Thats a super good one! Right now i’m starting to get anxious over my week trip at my boyfriend’s parents (first meet AND first plane trip!) — i’ll be sure to practice that advice, thank you!
Ah hope the trip goes well!
I think breaking your day down into sections is a really good thing to do. It seems to make the day more bearable in a way!! I started struggling with anxiety last year, so I got really into doing a bit of meditation or exercise (like going for a walk on the beach). Since then, it’s got better but there are still days where I just feel like my heart is racing! These are really good tips!!
So glad you found them helpful.
Anxiety is such a tough thing to manage. My new technique is really simple: I remind myself that I am not going to die. Seems kind of obvious but if you are an anxiety sufferer then you know how your brain leads to the worst case scenario!
That’s a great idea and so simple.
These are great tips, Jenny. 🙂
I was also diagnosed with GAD in my late teens and have found breaking tasks down to be really beneficial.
I struggle to go out on my own much (history of agoraphobia) but I’m starting to make progress, so I’m going to try incorporating more meditation into my routine and see how I do. xoxo
I struggle with that too so I can relate!
A very helpful and insightful blog post. As someone who also suffers from anxiety and how to handle it I will definitely be referring back to this blog post the next time I feel anxious. Thanks for sharing x
Hope it helps!
such a helpful post, it’s so interesting to see how anxiety affects everyone. we all suffer the same but completely different all at the same time. when i get really anxious i like to really focus on my breathing so that I don’t have to focus on what i’m anxious about. these tools of breaking it down into smaller tasks seems very helpful, i’ll definitely try this the next time i have a doctors appointment because the doctors makes me so nervous. great post jenny. x
mich / simplymich.com
Focusing on your breathing can work wonders!
Thank you so much for sharing this post, so many helpful tips here! I definitely need to start focusing on one thing at a time when I start worrying about having too many tasks 🙂
Kate | http://www.katelovesx.co.uk
It definitely helps!
When I get anxious, the first thing I look for is support. I need someone who holds me and tells me that things are alright. The next thing is for me to distract myself.
I think, it’s so important to have someone you can rely on and who can support you in these times.
Having those people around can really help!
These are really good tips. As far as I am concerned, it is really focusing on one thing at a time i need to do more!
It can really help!
Such a helpful post Jenny. I’m a bit like you; Low key anxious 24/7. I’m constantly on edge and ready to run at any moment.
I’ve tried many strategies to over come this. I recognised some of these in this post, but there are others I haven’t tried!
Thank you for sharing this with us, both your tips and your story 🙂
You’re welcome, hope they help!
I “stim” a lot in situations that make me nervous or anxious – so having a pen that I can click repeatedly or a piece of paper I can fold and unfold as I get my breathing sorted out is immensely helpful.
That’s a really good idea – I might try that this week.
Meditation, yoga, CBT, all of those are great help. When I was younger I didn’t know I was an introvert so I acted like an extrovert. It always felt fake, but I didn’t have words to say I had acute anxiety and just needed to be alone. Now I know what’s wrong, and for me, after lots of therapy, medication is always in the back pocket in case anxiety pushes into panic. I used to just drink, but you can’t really have shots of vodka at 8 am. Right? You are not alone!!
Haha no you can’t! Sadly CBT didn’t do anything for me. And you can’t always bust out the Yoga mat when you’re feeling anxious, depending on where you are! Sadly!
Thank for sharing! I think learning to look beyond the immediate moment is one of the most beneficial practices. Often easier said than done for us super anxious people lol.
Definitely easier said than done!
Aww this post <3
I think for me it's stopping and taking stock, thinking everything through properly. Usually with a cup of tea as that helps to calm me in general.
But you've shared some excellent tips here too.
Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/
Great idea. It can be so easy to spiral.
I know if I switch off with a book and rest then it really helps xxx
I wish I could read when I’m anxious.
Hi Jenny, thanks for this article- I can definitely relate to this. As a fiction writer I find it therapeutic to put it all into my stories. It’s very calming. I’ve been wanting to try yoga for years but I find the thought a bit intimidating. Breaking it down is something I am going to start implementing from your list. I hope it works!
No need to feel intimidated at Yoga, it’s the least intimidating thing in the world!
Meditation has been a huge help in reducing my anxiety, I try and do it on a weekly basis, as and when I need to calm my nerves. Exercise is another thing that helps calm my nerves, getting all that frantic energy out is a great feeling! xx
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
I need to do more meditation for sure!
this was such a good read. thank you for sharing, I’ll be referring back to this the next time I feel anxious
Hope it helps!
I struggle with terrible anxiety so I am going to have to try some of these out! A big one for me is to distract myself. I get super anxious as a passenger in the front seat of a car, so I always make sure to have a book to read of my phone to mess around on so I’m not looking at the road. It helps keep me calm and focused on something other than what is making me nervous!
I struggle to focus on other things when I’m anxious sadly!
Really great tips! I’ve suffered with anxiety & panic attacks since my first pregnancy. Sometimes I can let it overwhelm me but most times, I just breathe my way through, whilst I repeat things in my head, usually logical reasons as to why there is no need for me to be anxious. 9/10 that works for me. 🙂
Sarah 🌺 || Boxnip || Latest Post
I repeat things a lot too!
Thank you for sharing, these are some really useful tips. I especially like the idea of breaking things down into smaller parts as it makes things seem so much less daunting. I’ve found exercise to be really helpful in dealing with my anxiety and I’m looking at getting into yoga too after reading other bloggers experiences!
I’d highly recommend Yoga – I have plenty of blog posts about it!
I have had CBT for mine and it’s helped me so much as I have re trained my brain xx
That’s great. Sadly CBT didn’t do anything for me!
This is really interesting and the tips you share are really helpful! I too try and break things down into smaller parts, it seems to help.
It sure does.
These are good tips. I love hearing others talk about their anxiety and how they deal with it. There’s always something king can apply to my own life.
Really useful tips here and easy to implement too x
Thank you x
These are such good tips, Jenny. The advice shared by your counselor makes so much sense, I’ll have to remember that when I start overthinking about something. I love the idea of breaking down a task into smaller manageable steps and seeing the positive achievements along the way. That is really good advice and definitely makes things seem less scary and daunting. Thank you for sharing, great post! <3 xxx
Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com
She had plenty of words of wisdom!
Love this post darling, you’ve shared some really great advice. 💜
With love, Alisha Valerie x | http://www.alishavalerie.com
Really interesting post. I always find it interesting to see how others deal and cope with anxiety – especially at times when it is extremely high. I have to agree that Yoga has been a massive help to me when dealing with anxiety and even more recently running has helped me even more so.
Glad you’ve found some things that really help you!
I think those are some really good tips. I feel like anxiety is such a complex beast, and whilst it is individual to that person, there are many things that we can all do to help ourselves, and our friends. I often get quite anxious when answering the phone, and whilst it can still take me some time, I have found my own ways to help and I think that’s what is important. Finding what works for you.
Ellyn x | Life Of A Beauty Nerd
Finding what works for you is so helpful!