Are you feeling anxious? It’s more common than you think. You’re not alone, despite what the mind may tell you. Due to the current climate and happenings in the world, anxiety is something many of us are experiencing. But so much of what we become anxious about is out of control or irrationally developed in our minds.
It’s when we accept this that we are able to learn ways to manage it and keep it at bay. We cannot control everything, but we can manage how we respond.
What is anxiety?
Heightened sensitivity. It’s a response that’s essential for survival. When a threat becomes apparent, our body sends us into a fight-or-flight mode to enable us to deal with the threat. Our body is incredibly intelligent; it reacts so we can respond quickly in those times of need.
This is helpful if a tiger is running towards us, but not so much when our brain perceives something to be a threat—when in reality, it isn’t. That’s where the anxiety comes in: an overestimation of threat partnered with an underestimation of our own ability to cope in certain circumstances.
Continuing from a place of anxiety
Your thoughts are part of you. They do not control you. It’s about being able to acknowledge when your brain is being sensitive to those ‘threats’ and it doesn’t have to be.
We all have different triggers and different reasons behind why we become anxious: environmental triggers, withdrawal, genetics, hormones and chemical signals can all play a part. Our anxiety, as humans, is fed by the world we live in. In a fast-paced environment, it’s common for that pace to have a direct effect on the pace of your own mind.
Symptoms and helpful tips
Managing anxiety takes accepting its presence. As it plays a vital part in survival, it’s not about getting rid of it, but managing it. When anxious, you may experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty engaging or concentrating
- A feeling of shutting down
- A need for reassurance
- A sense of pressure or danger
- A lack of sleep
- Stomach problems (such as extreme butterflies or knots)
Although it can appear suddenly, considering what may have triggered the feeling can be helpful. The more you can understand and bond with your potential triggers and existing thought patterns, the easier it’ll be to manage or shift them.
Breathe deeply, in and out. Slow. Not demanding control, because that may result in greater anxiety, a sense that you are trapped and restricted to a certain breathing pattern. Just freely and slowly.
Let your feelings in rather than resisting them, as they are worthy, even if they aren’t rooted in reality or truth. Don’t try to push them away, as fighting the anxiety will only cause it to put on its boxing gloves and try to fight back. Breathe it in and acknowledge it. Accept that it’s the feeling you are currently experiencing, and it may be an inconvenience, but it’s still welcome to the party.
I find it helpful to close my eyes, initially, and focus on the breath to bring my mind back to the present. I then tune into my senses, what’s with me in the present. Calm acknowledgment of what’s here. Breathe it all in.
‘This too shall pass’ helps me, as it reminds me that I can never be stuck in any situation, and like feelings, moments and time, the anxiety will pass eventually. I often cool myself by getting some fresh air or a cold flannel. While bringing the heat out of my body, I can help to bring the heat out of my mind.
Although it can appear randomly, it’s more likely to rise if I ignore my body and what it needs in terms of rest and care. It’s often a sign that something needs to change—whether it’s my thoughts or behaviour—something is overwhelming my system. It often takes stepping back as an observer to identify if we’re demanding or expecting too much, or if we’re letting our thoughts dictate reality.
What if I can’t do it on my own?
Asking for help is not a weakness, but a huge strength. You are not weak for needing help. We all need guidance and support at times, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. When it comes to health and well-being, nothing is shameful.
Don’t be afraid to ask or reach out, as stopping on your path and taking a little detour will do no harm. I like to think of it as stopping off at the services for some goodies on a long drive. It only makes the rest of the drive more comforting.
Anxiety isn’t all bad. You may suffer from anxiety, but you are not anxiety. We are often told that being sensitive is being weak. But being sensitive isn’t a bad thing. It means you can experience the highs as high as the lows may be low.
All of your emotions have the potential to be as intense as your anxiety may be. Love, passion, ecstasy, excitement, thrill, desire, curiosity, happiness, contentment, joy, gratitude, hope, inspiration, awe, serenity, pride—your capacity is endless. Your feelings may be intense, but that’s no bad thing.
Over time, you’ll get to know your triggers, the signs and how to manage it. Hold onto the fact that once you get through the first experience of anxiety or a panic attack, although it doesn’t make any future times easier, it does teach you that it’ll pass eventually. You survived it then, so nothing will stop you from surviving another.
Change and the unknown can be daunting, but they’re also what makes life exciting. The present is all we have. We can prepare or consider what’s to come, but we cannot always predict. We can only live in the now and be reassured by the fact we are never alone.
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image 1 pexels 2 image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay 3 image by Ivana Divišová from Pixabay