I originally sat down to write a post on perfectionism but as soon as I started, I realised something. I’m not really a perfectionist and I don’t have much to say on the matter.
I would be of no use to you. I don’t have any advice for people who obsessively use rulers and match the colours of their clothes pegs. I am not that person.
What I am however, is highly strung. I know all about feeling anxious for no reason.
I carry anxiety around with me like most ladies do a purse.
I am hopeless without structure and routine. I need to be able to plan ahead. I need to make sure I am adequately prepared for any and all eventualities.
Spontaneity, completely throws me off, it rips the rug right out from under my feet.
The older I am getting, the better I am becoming at letting go of control. I am slowly learning how to cope with uncertainty so that it doesn’t paralyze me.
But sometimes when we feel ourselves slipping, we need strategies to help us calm down.
We need tools to help us cope after a stressful day. A routine that can help us to prepare ourselves for something uncomfortable like a dentist visit or awkward phone call.
We need to have a way of cooling off and resetting, a way of bringing harmony into our every day lives.
Because sometimes there is a clear and obvious reason why we are feeling anxious, but sometimes we are feeling anxious for no reason at all.
These coping mechanisms are especially important for highly strung people, those of us who are always just teetering on the edge of becoming overwhelmed.
We need to know our limits and make sure we take extra special care of ourselves.
So as a highly strung, often anxious person, these are my personal coping mechanisms. These are the ways I practice self care. This is how I manage to stay sane.
8 ways to calm down when you are feeling anxious for no reason…
Focus on your breathing
When we get very stressed we tend to take short, shallow breaths. The problem is, this only encourages our body’s ‘fight or flight‘ response which ends up prolonging our feeling of stress.
The very best thing we can do in any stressful situation is to focus on our breathing.
Make a big deal of both your inhale and exhale. Pause and try to count a few seconds after each. Make your breathing as long and deep as possible.
Listen to gentle music
Although technically not music, I love listening to nature sounds, especially rain or thunderstorms. There is something soothing about hearing the rhythm of nature. (Unless you look up whale sounds, there is nothing soothing about that!)
My favourite album to listen to when I am feeling anxious for no reason is ‘Be Held‘ by Christy Nockels. This is a collection of lullabies for adults which never fail to bring me back to a place of calm.
I also made a playlist of slow, peaceful songs which I’ll put on in the car or as I am working to put myself at ease. Music has a way of reaching us that words simply cannot.
Try using a relaxation exercise
In one of my tutorials at university we spent the whole hour learning different relaxation exercises. At the time I thought it was a bit kooky but now I can appreciate the value of it.
The only one I can actually remember involves your five senses.
It goes like this… Find yourself a quiet space and close your eyes. Begin breathing deeply. Then start to take notice of each of your senses individually.
What can you hear around you? What can you smell? Open your eyes and what can you see?
Slowly become aware of your surroundings and allow your tension to dissipate.
I always find healing in writing. I always manage to un-twinge my tension and stitch up the wounded bits when I write out exactly how I am feeling.
The most important thing to remember is that your journal/laptop/back side of a napkin is a safe space. Allow yourself to write freely without judgement.
You cannot fully let go of the built up pressure inside you if you are fretting about the things you are writing. So no judgement, just write.
Paint, draw or colour-in
Those adult colouring-in books became really popular a few years ago for a reason. Being creative is relaxing.
Painting, drawing and colouring-in bring us back to the present. They allow us to be adventurous and playful, to make a mess and just have fun.
They also distract us from the fears and worries that can overwhelm us. Sometimes what we need is a little distraction, a little moment of rest from all the hustle and stress.
I am a nature girl. My happy places are all outside. I love the softness of the beach, the ruggedness of the mountains, the quietness of the forest.
I need greenery and I need wide open spaces. Nature is soothing for our souls.
While you are outside, try out the relaxation exercise I mentioned above. There is nothing more uplifting than listening to the early-morning birdsong.
Have a shower or run a bath but make it an experience.
Fill the bath with bubbles, allow the steam from the shower to soak into your pores, bundle yourself up in a warm, fluffy towel afterwards.
Often it is the simple things that bring the most pleasure. For example, when I want to feel especially luxurious I take the time to moisterize properly. I find the nicest, sweetest-smelling body lotion and I make myself soft all over. Simple, but delightful.
Talk about it
Bottling up your feelings will never do you any good. Be brave and open up to someone.
It often will feel like the last thing you want to do, but the effort it takes will always be worth it. Just make sure you speak to someone who is gentle and understanding, no judgement in your writing, no judgement in your speaking.
I’d love to know, how do you practice self care when you are stressed?
Do you ever find yourself feeling anxious for no reason at all?