Name it: Anxiety?

“Just a little bit nervous” she said, holding about an inch of space between her thumb and index finger. “just not sleeping as well as I used to do. I used to be able to put my head on the pillow and have a great night sleep, but now… it’s not like that anymore. I wish it was. I have trouble concentrating, and sometimes can’t seem to control my anger. Every once in a while I find myself drinking a little more than I want, just so I can get a few hours of sleep without my thoughts racing around like little hamsters in a cage.”

Anxious symptoms can range from a little bit jumpy to unaccountable feelings of terror. Sometimes there are good reasons to feel anxious – getting ready for a wedding, or preparing for an exam, or being chased by a bear. But if the symptoms last for too long and extend or interfere into other areas of your life, your good stress may now have a new name and can become a problem.

Many American’s struggle with symptoms of anxiety which can take 5-7 years to diagnose and treat, for they often can sneak up and manifest in headaches, stomach and gastrointestinal problems and other physical symptoms and then often too there are the substance abuse or addiction problems for normal healthy people just trying to cope with day to day living at a fast and sometimes overwhelming pace.

Claim it:

Admit that there are times the feelings you are having are called anxiety instead of pretending or denying, accept the feelings you are having, otherwise. “what you resist persists”

If you think, “I can’t be anxious – my mother (father, brother, other) were always the anxious ones. I was the one everyone always came to. I’m the person who has always been the rock. How can this be happening to me?” you may be denying the reality of your current circumstances.

If you have always been the rock and are now confronting issues with anxiety it can be even more distressing than for someone who has learned to live with it throughout their lifetime. Too much stress, for too long, can lead to an phenomenon of emptying the emotional gas tank and many other things can lead to feeling a bit to jumpy or having full blown panic attacks.

Understanding that anxiety is “not just in your head” can help. When a person experiences anxious symptoms they may have a sensation that their life is at imminent risk. even when it is not. When the message of risk is sent to the brain adrenaline is dumped into the system to support it taking measures it would not take in the regular day to day. activities, when this happens over long periods of time the body can become habituated to being in what we call crisis, to the point where it stops being able to function in a regular day to day manner. Being in crisis is the new norm. Accepting this allows for a search to begin living a new way.

Change it:

Try some of these suggestions:

  • Drinking caffeine earlier in the day and in less quantity
  • Increase your exercise – cross training can help
  • Make a gratitude list
  • Breathe. Here is a simple breathing technique I have been teaching to my clients for several years, it is called “4 part breathing”. Clients consistently report a decrease in anxious symptoms, including panic.
  • Draw a square, it should be the same size on each side and top:

breathe-in-4-anxiety

Other resources to help you if anxiety is interfering in your daily sense of well-being:

Multiple videos on YouTube by leaders in Anxiety treatment:

  • Steven Hayes teaches on managing anxiety with meditation and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
  • Meditation is being proven to help with anxiety. Meditation is not affiliated with any religion.
  • Try tapping (a form of EMDR): www.tapping.com has video instructions, this is a simple physical technique coupled with re-writing mental messages.
  • Watch funny movies
  • Go for a walk or run on the beach
  • Play with a kitten, puppy or baby
  • Make a gift for someone special
  • Journal or draw
  • Lovemaking
  • Make a list of the things you like to do that make you feel good, and then start doing them
  • Most important, talk to your doctor and make sure that there is not a physical cause for your anxious feelings. If you are not able to manage it on your own, seek professional help.