Practical Tools for Anxiety
When you were small you likely had a situation that triggered an anxious response. As a result you learned quickly to avoid situations that triggered your fear (survival mode) in an effort to carry on in your day to day life. While you may have thought that your efforts to avoid anxiety were helpful, it’s the very thing that exacerbates it. You see avoiding it might away momentarily but it waits in subconscious ready to erupt when given the opportunity. In addition to a post we did on social I’m going to further explain four helpful strategies you can use to help minimize anxiety.
1. Change the label from anxiety to fear.
We give meaning to the words and labels we use. When we think of the word anxiety we think of things like mental health, medication, being stuck, feeling overwhelm, can’t, stress, never ending.. and the list goes on. Go ahead, name some of your own.
When we think of fear it tends to be more concrete. Fear of a specific thing, fear of an emotional state, fear of a specific situation (being bit in the face when I was 8), fear of rejection or judgement. I’m not minimizing anxiety here, Anxiety had been a state of “normal” for me too since I can remember. I am suggesting that when we use different words for naming our experience we can approach it directly from the true issue instead of a broader term of anxiety.
2. Pay attention to the story.
What is story the playing the background?Often we aren’t aware of it because it’s been sitting there dormant for so long. We avoid, at all costs the things they make us anxious. We become unaware of the reinforcing ideas we developed along the way. If you are not aware of your story write it out.
You can start by using a “free association” format writing whatever comes to mind without sensory. If you get stuck ask questions: Why do I feel this way? What am I predicting is going to happen? Is this based on facts? If so, what are they? Is this true? Is there anything to suggest it isn’t entirely true? Where did I learn this? When did I first start to feel this way and way? Go deep.. just observe.
3. Challenge your belief.
Applying this has become one of my most favourite things to do in life. Not simple to learn but freeing when you can apply it. Our beliefs are what makes us, us. It’s our identity. There are some beliefs you have that serve purpose and keep you safe. There are others that we use to keep us safe from a perceived threat or danger.
For example: if I was hurt in a relationship I might avoid getting close to people because it means I will just get hurt. I convince myself that I don’t like people anyway and that people are “mean, stupid, jerks, judgmental”. If I peel the layers back from where it originated, I might learn the truth is I am protecting myself from being hurt.
The truth is not that I don’t do people or like people. What makes my belief true? Is there any evidence to support it not being true? If I didn’t have this belief, what would be in it’s place? If I changed this belief just a little bit what could I do instead. I might that I have fond memories of people and some of my happiest times were shared with people. I might find that if I didn’t fear being hurt I would have meaningful relationships.
4. Changing the body mind connection.
This is a game changer. It is my humble opinion that we cannot take a person with high anxiety and suggest that they mediate. They will become so uncomfortable and swear off meditation all together, which is so disheartening because meditation is scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase longevity.
Instead learn to be aware of you thoughts. If your thoughts are intrusive (scary) then of course if you’re sitting in the lotus position inviting them I’m you’re going to panic! You first need to learn and understand that your thoughts have no merit. Thoughts without action are just thoughts. You did not originate them either. All thoughts have been around for thousands of years. What if thoughts are the bits of information helping grow to higher consciousness. When you think a thought feel your body.
Pay attention to your head, your shoulders, your chest, your back, your stomach and legs. How does it feel in your body. If you’re anxious, you cut off your breathing. Take a few deep breaths intentionally and imagine loosening up the tightness in your body.
There are times when it appropriate to seek help with anxiety, especially if it keeps you from experience joy in your life. Fear does not need to control your life and you can learn to loosen then grip, change your thoughts, challenge your beliefs, and take control of your physical response.
Words have energetic value choose them wisely.
If fear is holding you back form having a life that you desire, that life is waiting for you when you’re ready to take action.
Change happens over time and practice. You won’t get it perfect the first time, second time, or third time, but if you keep at it and notice the small changes you will notice your healed outcome more each day.