Three Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Be More Present

Woman on bench Not used

Do you find your diary is crammed from the moment you start work? Perhaps you wake up feeling anxious already as you buzz straight into checking your emails over breakfast while you’re getting the kids off to school or squeezing in calls on your commute to the office.

If this sounds familiar then you’re not alone, but being constantly switched on can wreak havoc with your stress levels, and before you know it you’re on a road to burn out.

There are ways to minimise this risk. You may often hear people talk about ‘living in the moment’ but what does that really mean? Is it all meditation or hippy-like activities or are there practical ways for busy people to feel less anxious and be more present?

The good news is yes! Being in the moment is simple, it just means pausing for a few seconds or minutes to recognise what’s happening for you at that exact time.

Pressing pause is simple but don’t be deceived by the simplicity, when you feel anxious it’s often the small shifts that can make a big difference.

Why not try these 3 tips to help you pause, breathe and feel less anxious:

Breathe deep

Often when we are feeling anxious, rushed or busy our minds take over. It’s easy to become disconnected from the rest of your body when you’re ‘in your head’. The breath reconnects you to your body, reduces anxiety, and allows you to come back to the here and now.

Pause Exercise

To instantly ease anxiety, close your eyes or choose a focus point (see my next tip for double impact) and take 4 deep breaths, in and out, right down into your belly. You can do this at any time, but don’t close your eyes if you’re driving!

Shift focus

When you are in your head your focus goes inwards, often behind your eyes. If you tune in you might even be able to notice your field of vision is narrower. A simple way to help you when your head is busy is simply shift your focus by looking out to the horizon.

Pause Exercise

Stand up and go to the window. Allow your eyes to relax and soften and let your gaze gently expand. Stay here for a couple of minutes (you can pretend you’re being wise and creative and deep in thought generating a masterful idea!)  Take a breath in through your nose and down into your belly and repeat for a few breaths. This will have you rebalanced before you know it.
An extension to this would be to go outside on your lunch break and look at the horizon while you feel the air on your face.  Give it a go!

Create space

One of the simplest ways to help manage anxiety is by creating what I call white space in your diary.  White Space is simply time in your diary with no activities. You can add White Space at the beginning of your day, between meetings, at lunchtime, on Friday afternoons.  Whatever works best for you.

Pause Exercise

Start by putting some space between meetings – your brain and body isn’t designed to jam that much information in each day. When you have White Space scheduled it’s up to you how you use it. You might use White Space for creative thinking, planning for your next week or prepping for an important meeting. The idea is that it’s your time.

If you find these exercises helpful and would like to learn more about ways to build the pause into your daily life, then come and join us at the Pause Retreats:

About the author

Danielle is an international board level coach, consultant and facilitator, with more than 10 years experience working with people in over 20 different countries. She is one of 200 coaches in the UK to hold the ICF PCC accreditation, and was the Asia MD of both a pioneering coaching company (Coach In A Box) and an award-winning consultancy (Bridge Partnerships). After recovering from her own enforced pause she set about creating The Pause, a series of retreats, workshops and coaching for people on the brink of burnout. Danielle understands that in an age of constant movement, nothing is more essential than slowing down to press pause.

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