We are often told by people who don’t suffer from anxiety to find something to relax us. We are told to meditate, or to take deep breaths, but clearly people without anxiety do not understand the process of anxiety. We cannot use positive thinking to ‘get out’ of an anxious state of mind. Meditation in the taking of deep breaths and trying to quiet the mind does not work with anxiety but there are ways to manage anxiety in a way that can have a long lasting effect and are tools to take into everyday life.
3. Do begin to face your anxiety head on. Anxiety feels like you are going to die. Anxiety feels like you are going to be alone and no-one is going to be there when it happens, but of course these are all the stories that are playing in the mind. We are not going to die from anxiety, even if the story is telling us that we might. Do not question your anxiety or try and figure out why you are anxious. You have probably been trying this for a decade. Don’t run away from it.
4. When the anxiety comes, stop. Try not to beat yourself up for feeling anxious, let yourself feel it. Let yourself feel that shaky, pounding heart and those clammy hands, and yes, if you can, do remember to breathe. But more than likely you will find it hard to breathe deeply. So simply breathe to the level you are able to. As slowly as you are able, if you are able to.
5. Anxiety is not the enemy. Your story about the anxiety is what is causing the problems. Anxiety can and does pass through us when we allow it to be. It is our attention, our openness to feeling it that allows it to pass on through. It is our resistance and the needing it to be anything but anxiety that causes it to continue and increase. If you have tried everything else and nothing has worked, trying this may be something worthwhile.
6. When you feel able, take a look into mindfulness meditation (you will find this on YouTube or you can get good books on it everywhere. The mindful way through depression is my favourite). Mindfulness is not a pushing of thoughts away; it is not a pushing of feelings away; it is an embracing of feelings and a watching of thoughts. We cannot stop thoughts altogether. They just happen like clouds passing over head; they come and go, and the more present we become with our feelings, the fewer in number and the less in intensity they become.
7. If you have the time sit for a moment and see if you can speak to your anxiety like you would to a small child. Your anxiety is something that wants your love and kind attention not your resistance. Gently say to the anxiety inwardly ‘I love you, I welcome you’.