Something I seem to come across more and more these days in my role as a coach is people who suffer with high anxiety. The world around us is changing all the time and now more than ever, when we feel like we can’t control things around us, anxiety can be high – extremely high! So, how do we combat this?

In my experience (and yes, I was once a highly anxious person), anxiety occurs when you fixate on the things that are out of your control. Like right now, stress is high regarding work, lockdowns, rules and staying safe amongst COVID, and we can’t control any of it, so naturally anxiety goes up. To tackle this, my advice is to look for the things you CAN control and although this may seem unrealistic at times, there are still certainly things that are within your grasp.
  • Respond and reflect. Try not to panic; take time to consider types of responses or reactions in provoking situations (list them down if you like) and the consequences of each. Responding to something in a panic or in a highly anxious state can often lead to a worse situation. Take a step back, let the emotion subside, consider your response options and once you decide on what’s right for you, do that. Tip: An emotional outburst on social media is almost never a good idea.
  • Exercise. This is great for helping with anxious thoughts as it releases endorphins which can help take some of the worry away. Anxiety is about not being able to control situations so take some of the control back by getting out and exercising. Running is good for this. Set yourself a realistic goal and then break it down into small chunks, ones you can achieve, which will make you feel good about yourself and help shift your thinking. Once you experience those good endorphins, you'll want to keep going back for more.
  • Relax. Believe it or not, enjoying downtime is a skill that we can sometimes find hard. We are often so busy rushing from work to the kids’ sport, to the gym, to home to cook dinner, study, clean – a whole bunch of things on repeat and in a never-ending cycle. SLOW DOWN! Plan some time each week to stop this cycle; take some time to actually relax. Maybe a movie, a good book, a walk in the sunshine with a friend or the family, a chat on the phone, a nanna nap – anything that helps the ‘slow’ of life.

Be cautious of your anxiety levels and when you notice them rising and your brain starts second guessing everything, take a breath, a step back and reflect on how you can get back some control. Make sure you choose little things in manageable chunks so you can actually achieve them and then go about it, one step at a time. Overwhelming yourself is not the answer. Reach out to a friend in times of need - you may often find they need a chat too.

Article by: Rachel Allworth - Level 2 Accredited Recreational Running Coach


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