It’s R U OK? Day. The day when we are reminded of the importance of a simple, yet powerful question to ask ourselves and those around us – are you ok?
If the answer is “no, I’m not ok”, there are two things you need to know:
It’s ok not to feel ok.
You’re not alone.
Here are eight simple steps to help you to move out of fight or flight mode and turn anxiety into action:
Step 1: NOTICE the worry story
Take notice of the worry thoughts that are taking hold. What is worry telling you? Can you imagine they are stories in a book and experiment with noticing the story, closing the book and putting it back on the shelf?
Step 2: BREATHE
Stop for a moment and focus on your breathing. Take long, slow out-breaths and let your lungs fill up naturally. Taking time to consciously breathe out builds a pause between the situation and your response. This takes you out of flight or fight.
Step 3: ACKNOWLEDGE your thoughts and feelings
Notice and validate the anxious thoughts and feelings, try not to struggle against them. The struggle is what keeps us in fight or flight.
Step 4: ACCEPT the uncertainty
Accepting and acknowledging the uncertainty reengages our rational mind. It allows us to stop struggling against the uncertainty and takes us out of fight or flight.
Step 5: FOCUS on the present moment
Bring your mind back to the present moment with the help of a mindfulness exercise such as scanning your surroundings to notice five things you can see, smell or hear. Focussing on the present moment gives us a greater sense of control.
Step 6: Move from worry to PROBLEM-SOLVING
Ask yourself “what is in my control and what is out of my control?” and let go of what is out of your control. Can you close your eyes and imagine placing what’s out of your control onto a leaf in a stream and watch the leaf, along with your worries float away. Doing this can clear the space for you to create an action for what is in your control.
Step 7: STAND UP to anxiety with powerful mood boosters
Try to do one of the following mood boosters every day to brighten your day. Remember that small actions are better than doing nothing at all.
Say thank you
Move your body
Phone a friend
Step 8: Seek out the SILVER LININGS
Our mind will tip us to the negatives and worry will highlight the threats. Be purposeful in counteracting this by finding silver linings, the opportunities and the connections amidst the disconnection.
Try to remember that worry is futile. It solves nothing and makes us feel bad. So let’s get started with changing the worry story. Start now with Step 1. The sooner you start, the sooner you can get to Step 8, and the sooner you can transform those feelings of anxiety into action. If you feel that this can help someone you know, feel free to share it with them when you ask, R U OK?
For more strategies like these, check out my best-selling book, The Mind Strength Method: Four Steps to Curb Anxiety, Conquer Worry and Build Resilience. You can also find some excellent FREE resources on our website including an eBook on Managing Anxiety in Uncertain Times.