The crushing whirlwind of skin crawling breathless energy that is anxiety. Where does it come from? What makes us feel this way? Why does it have to happen? My 8 tips on how to get through it to the other side.
Anxiety for me is a feeling in my chest which radiates through tense muscles into my shoulders, up my neck and into my head. It’s a tightness, a fluttering, a dizziness; sometimes a crushing feeling, shortness of breath. I feel as though I am sitting outside of my body. My energy is out and about instead of gathering inside of me. The opposite of being ‘centered’.
Anxiety is feeling overwhelmed, stressed, fatigued, fragile, short-tempered, frustrated, nervous… it’s too many thoughts in your head and not enough hours in the day. I can’t imagine that many people living in modern/western society go through life without experiencing some level of anxiety on a fairly regular basis. (See my previous post touching on anxiety and energy here).
For our ancestors, anxiety as we know it did not exist. Stress was a very useful tool in keeping a person alive. The fight or flight response as we now know it would kick into play when a person was confronted with a life threatening scenario – think, a carnivorous saber tooth tiger suddenly appears in front of you. Stress hormones kick into play – cortisol is released into the body from the adrenal glands, this shuts down many basic functions within your body leading to increased blood sugar, high blood pressure, sodium and water retention. In a life or death (fight or flight) situation this will give you the energy you need to run or stay and fight for your life. If you are feeling like this all the time, you can see how this can be problematic to your health. (If you’re interested in reading a little more in depth on your body’s response to stress, I liked this article here).
I know first hand that constant stress and anxiety takes a toll on your health. Physically, I am affected considerably by stress. I lose weight, I get sick a lot (colds, flus and tummy bugs), I even get rashes! Through trial and error and a lot of internal work on myself I have come up with some coping mechanisms and strategies to help me get through periods of anxiety and lessen the length of my suffering.
- Remember, nothing is permanent. This too shall pass. This is basically my mantra when I am at breaking point. It reminds me that this is not simply ‘my life now’. It helps me to maintain that positive outlook when nothing else seems positive.
- Chant a mantra or repeat an affirmation. As above, it helps me remain positive. Your mantra can be anything at all, but the key thing here is that you have to actually believe it. I like to write it on a piece of paper and repeat it over and over until I feel calm.
- Write. Get those thoughts out of your head and onto paper – or, you know, a blog. You will be amazed at the insight when you read it over a few months or years down the track.
- Breathe. Simple right? You would think so, but when we’re stressed we tend to take lots of shallow breaths instead of breathing deeply and filling our lungs. There are some great apps around to help you keep track and stay on task when you are trying to do this, such as Paced Breathing, Prana Breath and Breathing Exercises. If you are in no state to meditate, then this is the next best thing.
- Be aware/ be present. Nobody knows your body better than you. You are able to access and become aware of every tiny cell that makes your physical body. Us sensitive types tend to sense the tiniest fluctuation within (or without) our bodies. If I can feel that I am being affected physically by anxiety, just the process of slowing down and pinpointing where and what and (most importantly) why I am feeling it can help bring me back inside myself.
- Recognise your trigger/s. Mine seems to be change (usually just prior to a big change, whether I already know it’s coming or not), particularly when it involves love or living from the heart. I also suffer anxiety when a close family member or friend is going through a tough time. As a life path 4, I believe I am here to live from the heart (Heart Chakra = fourth chakra) and likely mend some past life issues around my heart and loving relationships. (You can find your life path here and see my blog post on why I work in a caring profession here).
- Be gentle with yourself. You deserve tender loving care. Take time out if you need to, go and get a massage, take a bath, burn some essential oils or incense, practice yoga, be alone, say no, put yourself first. This is not being selfish, this is called self care. And last, but not least:
- Seek help. If you are not coping on your own, it may be time to seek help outside of yourself. A good holistic counsellor would be my first preference, but any counsellor with a recommendation is worth a visit. Trust your instinct and you will find a counsellor that gels with you and suits your needs.