When facing anxiety we have three choices: fight it, numb it or endure it. Choosing the first two can undesirable outcomes in the long run. We can become avoidant, angry or addictive to a substance or an activity (e.g. alcohol or work).
The third choice requires courage, if we choose to get to know what our anxiety is all about, and we can become more resilient. This way we change our relationship with it. So instead of slamming the door on it, we could welcome anxiety as a visitor who came with the message – “What’s it trying to tell me?”
4 strategies to turn towards anxiety
Explore ‘grounding’ skills to steady yourself when stress levels rise. Identify what works for you? Meditation, mindfulness, breathing, movement-based practices (yoga, Tai Chi etc.), visualisation, mantras? Over time, with practice, they will protect your brain being ‘hijacked’ by excessive worries.
Observe yourself. Ask questions “What am I resisting? What is there for me to learn in order to move from here?” Be curious about how you react to triggers. And what your ‘go-to’ behaviours are when that happens. Explore different strategies such as journalling, letter writing, blogging or poetry.
Take the same level of good care for yourself as you would for somebody who you care about. You are anxious because you are human. That’s how it is. ‘Anxiety’ will never change, however, your relationship with it can. Self-blame is like oil to the fire, self-compassion is ointment for the burn.
Self-care may include healthier eating or sleeping habits, investing in friendships that matter. Or stopping hurtful language directed to yourself. Even a simple gesture like hand-on-the-heart switches on our ‘rest-and-digest’ response (the parasympathetic nervous system) and helps self-regulate and soothe.
Physical movement (e.g. martial arts, dance, embodied yoga, Yin yoga) are all extremely helpful strategies to free up long-suppressed emotions. Other forms of self-expression like painting, drawing or crafts can also bring out (externalise) what’s inside.
Find out more about how to grow a steady mind, a warm heart and inner peace with self-compassion.
To make an appointment with Anita Balogh at Swan Counselling, contact us.