First, as we begin, let’s start with opening our minds to the possibility that most of what we believe about anxiety is not in line with the true nature of anxiety. Expand your mind like a big empty room. Move the furniture aside. Open the windows and doors. Cling not to your current beliefs about your anxious mind and its intrinsic nature. Be open. Breathe deeply. Here’s some good news for you.
- Anxiety is NORMAL. It is good. It is your birthright. It comes from all the humans throughout history that survived and all the animals that through evolution led up to you. Anxiety is designed to help you survive in the wild. In modern life the anxiety response is triggered more often than is needed, but ultimately it is there for you in the case of a true emergency.
- Anxiety doesn’t have to be bad, so let’s give it some other names. Fidgety mind, monkey mind, imaginative mind, fast mind, creative mind, and so on. It’s powerful and it’s there to serve you in emergencies, but it’s also there to serve you in creative pursuits and in discovering new ways to live better. Anxiety or the awake mind, is there to serve you. All you have to do is tap into it. Work with it. Leverage it. Use it. Love it. Don’t judge or label it bad. Recognize its power for good. It’s there to nudge you towards fixing things in your life.
- Anxiety is not the problem. Fear of anxiety is the problem. Read that again: Fear Of Anxiety = Problem. You may be in a habit of fearing anxiety – of being uncomfortable about your powerful creative mind. You may be caught up in obsessive thoughts that start with “what will happen if X happens?” and usually end with imagining the worst. It may take time to unwind this habit that does not serve you well, but I’ve got great news. You can release that fear by simply building a new habit: admiration and appreciation of your anxiety.
How To Release Fear Of Anxiety
- Build a new habit. Start with new empowering labels for anxiety: creativity, protector, fast mind, smart mind, etc.
- Deep Breathing. Deep breathing calms your stress – gives you more control over your mind. You can never totally stop thinking, but you can achieve a great sense of peace amidst your thoughts. Try this: Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts, and then breathe out for 4. Do this 10 times slowly to calm down your nerves and mind.
- Non-Judging. Refrain from using the labels you place on your anxious feelings. It’s okay to feel icky or uncomfortable or sad or wound up. It’s okay. It will pass. Don’t build a castle to house these feelings. Just let them be there if they are there. Observe them and know that it will pass. Fill your mind with the vision of where you want to be, how you want to feel. Do the things you would do if you were living that vision and the feelings will follow.
- Get Enough Rest. (insert link here) Get enough good food, sleep, breaks, naps, and exercise. Some people are so chronically tired, they don’t even realize it. Being rested and nourished is critical to having the energy to handle the stresses of life that bring on anxiety. Simple habits like taking 5 minute deep breathing breaks throughout the day can make a huge difference.
- Exercise. We need to move our bodies every day. When we don’t our muscles atrophy, they shorten and tighten. We miss the opportunity to wash our body in mood-boosting endorphins. We miss stimulating our immune system and in turn our health suffers. The best and simplest exercise is walking. It’s cheap and easy to do. Of course running, biking, yoga, tennis, dance, gardening, etc. are all good options as well.
- The Bad Feelings Mantra.
- I feel _________________________(sad, mad, icky, embarrassed, weird, frustrated, down, blue, hopeless, etc)
- It feels like ______________________(weird, awful, uncomfortable, scary, panicky, etc)
- And it’s going to be OK.
- I’m going to be OK.
- This feeling can’t hurt or kill me.
- There’s no need to panic or fear it.
- The feeling just is there. It’s nothing more or less. It just is.
- It is impermanent, temporary.
- And I’m OK.
- I can even be more than OK if I choose to go there eventually.
- I don’t need to run from it.
- I don’t need to cover it up with alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, food, sex, shopping, etc.
- I don’t need to avoid it.
- I don’t need to be afraid of it.
- I’m allowed to ignore it and move on with my day.
- I can just be with it and still be OK.
- I am OK.
- I will be OK.
- I can even feel good and at peace when I’m ready for that.
So anxiety is actually your friend. If you have it, you know you’re a survivor. That’s cool, right?
You can learn to reduce your anxious, panicky reactions to events with simple deep breathing and reminding yourself that you are OK, no matter how bad, weird or uncomfortable you are feeling.
Then get back to your day. No matter what happens, we all end up with the same fate eventually. So choose to enjoy the good in your life and let your worries fall down to the ground.
What are your thoughts or experiences with anxiety? I’d love to hear from YOU in the comments below or on Twitter, FB, or G+!