RUOK? Day is one of my favourite days of the year. This incredible organisation helps raise awareness of the critical importance of checking in on our friends, colleagues and even strangers in the street. It also acts as a reminder that we need to check in on ourselves and the people around us. It’s a simple and powerful question that we often gloss over but on this day, we can stop to genuinely ask ourselves and others, RUOK?
If the answer is “no, I’m not ok”, the first thing I would say to you is that it’s ok not to feel ok. I also commend you for recognising your feelings – awareness is the first step towards changing your state of mind. I have developed this eight-step process to help you to turn anxiety into action:
Step 1: Notice the worry story
Notice the worry thoughts that are taking hold. What is worry telling you? Can you 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 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: Bring your mind back to the present moment
We gain greater uncertainty by focusing on the present moment. This 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?” let go of the parts that are out of your control. Problem solve, take action and build contingencies around the parts that are in control.
Step 7: Stand up to anxiety with powerful mood boosters
Try to do one of the following things every day keeping in mind that small actions are better than doing nothing at all.
Exercise and movement
Meditation and relaxation
Achievement, challenge or mastery
Something pleasant or fun
Kindness and gratitude
Connect with others
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.
Worry solves nothing and makes us feel bad. So let’s get started with changing the 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.
Download a copy of Jodie’s free ebook: Managing anxiety in uncertain times.