We all know that awful feeling - anxiety. It’s amazing how powerful it can be and how lousy it can make you feel. It can be so intense that you may think you’re having a heart attack or even, losing your mind! As a therapist, I’m always impressed at how powerful the mind is!
It feels like we have very little control over anxiety which has tricked you into thinking that it’s the boss and totally in charge. It may make you feel hesitant to go out and do things, worried about meeting acquaintances in the street, sick to your stomach imagining your future. You need to know, however, that you actually have a lot more power over anxiety than you think.
Anxiety can’t exist without some kind of physical sensation associated with it. If the thought crosses your mind, “What if I can’t afford to keep the house?” and your body doesn’t react with queasiness or tightness or a pit in your stomach, then that is only a thought and won’t make you miserable.
When anxiety descends on you, it’s so physical that even people around you can see it. Your forehead furrows, your mouth gets tense and someone might ask, “What’s wrong?” It’s the physical aspect of anxiety that creates havoc. If you can get to a state of relaxation, anxiety doesn’t have a chance.
The good news is that you don’t have to continue to let anxiety be the boss. You can learn to retrain your thoughts which will lead to your body becoming more relaxed and less under the thumb of anxiety. The fix is in a two-way change:
Become aware of the thinking processes that ramp up that awful feeling and start practicing short-circuiting that thought pattern.
Work on your physical body to become a Olympic relaxer so that you can have techniques at your fingertips to calm the body as needed.
To start, you have to become aware of your thinking processes. Many thoughts are worries about things that will never happen. Become a detective and search out those limiting thoughts and remind yourself, “That’s a worry, not a fact.” Train yourself to recognize the thoughts that serve no purpose other than to disturb you. That’s just anxiety bossing you around. Work on consciously reducing the power of those limiting thoughts.
Secondly, you have to incorporate relaxation into your daily life, in whatever form you can - and I don’t mean sitting in front of the TV watching The Bachelorette! I mean conscious, purposeful relaxation - walking, stretching, breathing exercises, listening to a relaxation tape, t’ai chi, yoga, biking, swimming, dancing - anything that tends to the body and uses the right side of the brain. You have to make it a priority to devote those minutes a day to your emotional health.
If anxiety is a big player in your life, try to find a CBT therapist who specializes in treating anxiety - not every therapist does - and work on it so you can get free and get your life back. Keep reducing your worry thoughts and incorporating conscious relaxation into your life. I know it will help.
What tricks do you use when you realize anxiety is starting to boss you around? What new things could you incorporate into your life? Let me know in the comments below.