“WTH is going on with me?”: Understanding Anxiety and Creating a Lifestyle of Peace
If so, you are definitely not alone.
If so, I don’t blame you.
I mean, how could you not be? In a mindful-less culture that demands so much of your time and energy, and places ongoing pressure on you to be great-ER than you are- it can be difficult to develop a lifestyle of inner peace.
If you’re like me, at some point in your life you’ve experienced the uncomfortable and distressing impact of nervousness and anxiety.
Understanding anxiety, seeing it as a part from you, and developing habits of peace are essential to conquering your dreams and living your best life. This article was created to help you do just that through answering 4 common questions about anxiety to help you rise above it.
1. What is anxiety?
anxiety is your body’s natural response to a (perceived) threat or danger.
Contrary to fear, you can’t see or touch this threat, you just believe its there. For the record, anxiety isn’t all bad. It’s your body’s physiological and emotional reaction for keeping you safe. And when functioning effectively, can do just that. Let’s say you’re asleep one night and you hear your window shatter. Instantly, you perceive danger (possible burglar) and so your body likely goes into fight or flight mode (which may cause rapid breathing and heart beating, rapid breathing, uneasiness, nervousness etc.) and you call 911. Once you do this, the police come, secure the premises and catch the burglar holding the nine millimeter. In this instance, anxiety served its primary purpose and kept you safe.
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 goes into 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 nervous or if you’re waking up to start your morning and began to imagine and anticipate all of things that could go wrong today.
This is a problem.
A problem that if unresolved, will take you away from experiencing the fullness of today’s joy, get you stuck in the cycle of anticipating the worst, and block you from creating the life you deserve.
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 depending on how anxiety shows up in you.
Notice I never say “your anxiety” because I don’t believe in labeling and associating it with you. Labels tend to disrupt healing processes so it’s important that you refer to anxiety as separate from you. It’s not apart of your identity. It’s not who you are. It’s just something that you may be experiencing.
4. What steps can I take to overcome anxiety?
Here are 4 quick tips you can apply almost anytime, anywhere:
1. Don’t fight anxiety, love it.
Yessss, you read me correctly! LOVE it, in addition to seeing 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. 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 and let this emotion flow and subside.
2. Plan for the “what if’s” with a 3-step plan.
The “what ifs” is a vicious cognitive cycle that can leave you feeling stuck and anxious. Constantly imagining the worst that can happen will leave you feeling depleted and powerless. Preparing and planning can help you regain your power, a sense of control and boost your confidence in 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 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 difficult to control someone other than you. If you cared at all about 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 him 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 if” may help break the cycle of uncertainty and ease anxiety.
3. Breathe in. Breathe out. And flex.
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 anxiety. During anxiety, 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, develop self talk that is soothing and can remind you that you’re safe. An example of this is repeating to yourself daily, “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 patterns and cycles in your life that encourage or maintain experiences of anxiety. One of the ways this can be accomplished is through working with a healing/mental health professional or at the least consulting with one.
If you found this helpful, feel free to share with a friend who may find it helpful too.
Want to discuss a strategy to help you rise above anxiety and optimize your emotional health? Sign up for your free virtual clarity consult today so we can get you there!
Sending peace & love your way,