Anxiety 101 + The Initial Steps to Creating a Lifestyle of Peace

Nervous much?

If so, you are definitely not alone.

In a seemingly ever rushing, mindful-less culture that consumes so much of your time and energy, and places an ongoing pressure on you to be great-ER than you are- it’s easy to get trapped in the cycle of anxiety and difficult to foster internal peace.

Understanding anxiety, seeing it not as a label but as separate from you, and developing habits the foster peace are essential to conquering calmness and living your best life. This article was created to help you do just that through answering 4 common questions about anxiety and to help you rise above it.  

1. What is anxiety?

Simply put…

anxiety is your body’s natural response to a (perceived) threat or danger.

That’s it- it’s an emotion designed solely to protect you. Contrary to fear, you can’t see or touch this threat, you just believe its there. Anxiety isn’t all bad. It’s your body’s physiological and emotional reaction to keep you safe. And when functioning effectively, it does just that. Let’s say you’re asleep one night and you hear your window shatter. Instantly, you perceive danger (possible burglar) and your body likely goes into fight or flight mode (which may cause rapid breathing and heart beating, rapid breathing, uneasiness, nervousness etc.) signaling an emergency so you call 911. After you do this, the police come, secure the premises and catch the burglar who was about to steal all of your stuff. In this instance, anxiety served its primary purpose and kept you safe. I

2. How do I know if the anxiety I experience is a problem?

You know anxiety is becoming a problem for you if your body repeatedly signals fight or flight (square up or run) mode and there is no imminent, lethal threat present. In other words, your inner alarm system is constantly going off for no visible reason. Like if you’re at work in your daily meeting, everything is going smoothly and you suddenly feel a nervous energy or if you’re waking up to start your morning and began to imagine and anticipate 100 things that could possibly go wrong.

This is a problem.  

A problem that if unresolved will take you away from experiencing the joy of the present and seeing the opportunities before you, and block you from creating that life that you want.

3. Are there more than one kind of anxiety and how does it show up?

Yes, there’s more than one kind and it doesn’t always show up in the same place.  Anxiety can be situational (happening during specific situations and experiences), anticipatory (aka “worry”, occurring when you are expecting the worst possible outcome for a future event/experience), free-flowing (this baby just pops up out of no where- whenever, wherever) or seemingly ever-present (this is always with you, and has been for a while, may be an anxiety or panic disorder). It comes in a physiological, cognitive, and/or behavioral appearance, and can be overcome through steps that speak to and soothe each of its features (physiological, cognitive or behavioral) depending on how anxiety shows up in you.

Notice I never say “your anxiety” because I believe anxiety is separate from you and labeling can disrupt healing processes. So, it’s important that if you’re struggling with anxiety you emphasize to yourself that it is a visitor who is totally separate from your identity and is not apart of who you are.

4. What steps can I take to overcome anxiety?

 Here are 4 quick tips you can apply almost anytime, anywhere:

1.      Don’t fight it, love it.

Yessss, you read me correctly! This tip is all about perspective. Love and appreciate anxiety’s existence and see it as separate from you. I know you're probably thinking, "how the hell can I love something that causes me so much distress?" Well, it's definitely a process and it begins with acceptance and love. The truth is, when you fear it, it’s power over you will increase. One of the worst mistakes you can make while trying to manage anxiety is to actively try to dismiss it. Because the more you do this, the worse it will become, and it will likely trigger more anxiety about experiencing anxiety. Instead, take back your power and embrace anxiety when it shows up. Give yourself permission to feel anxiety and let this emotion flow and subside.

2.      Challenge or plan for the “what if’s”.

You can’t control everything that happens in life. Accepting this truth and giving yourself permission to relinquish control is the first step to addressing the “what ifs?” The “what ifs?” is a vicious cognitive cycle that can leave you feeling stuck, depleted, powerless and more anxious. Questioning and challenging the validity of the “what if?”, and preparing and planning can help you regain your power, focus on what’s within your control, and boost your confidence during the healing process. Here are two hypothetical examples of how you can do this:  

“I hate presentations. What if I completely freeze?”

Plan: Take an adequate amount of time to prepare and plan for presentation in front of the mirror, practice deep breathing techniques to calm your nervous system, engage in activities to help silence your inner critic, and consult with my therapist.  

“What if I my boyfriend breaks up with me today?”

This is beyond your control as it has to do with someone else’s decision and we both know it’s nearly impossible to control someone else. Realistically and as a human, if you cared at all about the person and the relationship you can expect to be broken, so plan for this.

Plan: Research and join a healing program or circle for women who recently experienced break ups, meditate on and practice the serenity prayer, and further build your best self by engaging in activities that serve you physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Hypothetically, you can’t control the other person and if this does happen, at least you have a plan of healing. Something’s are inevitable and beyond your control but drafting a compassionate, practical plan to address the “what ifs?” may help break the cycle of uncertainty and promote internal calmness.

3.      Breathe in. Breathe out. Tighten + Release.   

Don’t underestimate the power of deep breathing. It is a powerful tool for calming your body. Belly (abdominal) breathing and releasing muscle tension are two ways to calm your physiological system during anxious moments. When you feel extremely anxious, you perceive a threat and your body goes into fight or flight mode. When this happens, your blood rushes to your muscles to prepare you to run from or fight "danger." This typically leads to muscle tension, rapid breathing, and uneasiness. Practicing belly breathing, and tightening and releasing muscles can help you release tension and regain calm.  

4.      Develop a list of 10 self-soothing affirmations.

Since anxiety is your body’s response to a threat that isn’t actually present, in the midst of embracing and letting it flow, repeatedly engage in self talk that is soothing and can remind you that you’re safe. An example of this is repeating to yourself daily (while deep breathing if you’d like), “I am secure, protected, and loved.”

Oh, and most importantly but not listed, you must believe that you have the power to overcome anxiety… because you DO. It lies within you, sis. Remember, the goal isn’t for anxiety to go away completely but for it not to scare and limit you like it has been. The goal is for you to take control of anxiety and live a limit-less full of clarity, confidence, and peace.   

Additionally, you may want to…  

For lasting results, you may want to discover what existing internal and external patterns and cycles in your life encourage or maintain experiences of anxiety. One of the ways this can be accomplished is through working with a healing and mental health professional or at the least consulting with one.

If you enjoyed this lesson on anxiety, you might love my FREE 1-on-1 clarity call that includes a customized 3-day {emotional} wellness plan just for you. If you’re interested, you can sign up here today :-)

Sending peace & love your way, 

AWG

 

Amaris W