I think we all struggle with varying levels of anxiety. Life has so many trials and uncertainties that can cause us to worry or have anxious thoughts. I have struggled with anxiety and overwhelming fears for most of my life. Part of this is from the dynamics of my childhood, the patterns of mental health in my family, and my own internalizing of events throughout my life. There has been various things I have tried to help with my anxiety including therapy and medications. But I still was not coping well with day to day life.
Thankfully I have had relationships and circumstances that pushed me to confront this anxiety and try to cope better. During the beginning of the pandemic, while at home, I began to be more intentional about searching for tools and strategies that would help me live better from day to day. I came up with the acronym GRASI and practiced tools of it intentionally everyday. It made such a difference for me! We don’t have to stay stuck in the same anxious thoughts. We can break cycles and thrive!!
I made up this acronym for myself after I chose these five tools to focus on to help with my anxiety.
G: grounding, which is the process of focusing in on one of our five senses. Sometimes I would go outside and close my eyes and put all my attention on the sounds around me, or putting all your attention on any of the senses to ground yourself back to your current moment in time. Anxiety often involves being stuck in the past or the future, therefore to combat that it can be helpful to focus your attention back on the present moment.
R: relaxation, is something I incorporated because I typically was not being intentional to do something relaxing everyday. So when I started practicing this I planned at least one relaxing activity everyday. Sometimes if was taking a hot bath, resting on the couch and watching TV, doing yoga outside, or taking time to be creative.
A: acceptance, was huge for me!! In my planner or journal if there were thoughts that were nagging at me or anxieties that were weighing me down I would practice acceptance and the worry about those issues no longer had control over me. For example I accept that all I can control is my thoughts, words, and actions and I cannot control the words, actions or intentions of others.
S: spirituality, is vital. Though this is the fourth letter in the acronym for me it was foundational for the whole process of healing. This involved me being in prayer, reading scripture, and reminding myself of truths. Truths such as God created me, I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I was created with purpose, I am loved, I am chosen, I am cared for, and there is a plan for my life.
I: improve self-esteem, this was important for me as well because a lot of my anxiety was also tied to habits and thought patterns of self-loathing. This would often keep me from accomplishing my goals, seeking healthy relationships, and living well. To work on this I first started by writing positive affirmations and repeating them to myself everyday. I tried various other strategies too, including writing letters to my past self, choosing to focus on strength based narratives of my life, and paying attention to my self-talk and correcting myself when I spoke cruelly to myself.
I would incorporate these five areas in my daily life. It would look different for each day, but the goal was simply to be aware and start changing my thinking and actions to combat my anxiety.
Thank you for reading my story! I would love to know what helps you with anxious thoughts or if you give any of these strategies a try!