The thoughts we have in our minds can cause unwanted anxiety. The intense stories we hear or read, the ominous images we perceive, the disturbing memories that haunt us, and personal thriller movies in our minds can lead to sweaty palms, aching pains in our shoulders and other symptoms elsewhere.
These symptoms can be frightening – additional fearful feelings pile up on pre-existing fear. But you don’t have to be afraid.
The more you understand anxiety and its causes and the more familiar you become with your own symptoms, the more likely you are to channel your fear into a positive experience. There’s a fine line between healthy fear and bad fear, and they each have their reasons and uses.
When we can use fear without fearing the sensations experienced, it can grow creativity and achieve goals. Fear can even become a catalyst to help you become the person you want to be.
Develop empathy and compassion for yourself
The majority of people who experience symptoms of anxiety become fearful of the experience and the related bodily sensations, leaving them overwhelmed, frustrated, and angry. This, in turn, can cause you to forget the coping skills and the power you have over your body.
Focus on becoming more compassionate, considerate, and empathetic to yourself. Your serious fear is not out of the blue.
Chances are, a distressing or traumatic experience where your body has not had the opportunity to exert an organic response to the situation has led to these symptoms of anxiety.
Try to recognize the reason for your anxiety symptoms. When you experience doomsday mental domination while sitting at home watching your favorite show, or working in your office, preparing for that important presentation or an upcoming social event, think about the power of your lungs. .
Breathe slowly and your brain will have to follow. Stop punishing yourself or forcing yourself to feel otherwise. Let your mind and body process your fear.
The following can help you better manage these symptoms and get the clarity you need to function.
Follow these 5 steps intentionally
- Welcome the energy your body creates and challenge the fear by naming it.
- Verbalize the story you tell yourself out loud: this is how you notice the story you have created. And you’ll decide whether to write the entire script for it or throw it away.
- Ask your body: what do you need? How can I offer you that? And what happens after I give you that? (From the book Feeding Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione†
- Give yourself time to listen to what your body is communicating to you. This can reduce your symptoms and decrease anxiety. Use that energy and curiosity to achieve whatever your goals are. Remember that your first goal is to acknowledge the symptoms.
- Explore your bodily sensations and try not to get overly consumed by trying to figure out what’s causing this.
Now you know how to respond to what your body needs and you can choose to honor it. And when you do, we practice being vulnerable and authentic and trusting our ability to take care of ourselves. This fuels your confidence to achieve your goal.
This is certainly easier said than done, but if you practice using these skills, you will notice the relief and clarity you can experience. Remember how much time, thought, and practice you put into these symptoms by keeping them at bay, numbing them, and ignoring them.
It will probably take less time but the same amount of energy to practice applying these new coping skills.
Side Effects of Applying Coping Skills
As you practice applying these skills, you should also challenge the shame, anger, and judgment you experience.
You may experience anger at yourself because you are reacting to situations from a space of fear. You can feel ashamed because you think you are a bad person, because what happened to you that caused these symptoms was your fault and you deserve this punishment.
You can judge yourself and compare yourself to others who you think don’t experience fear, and if they did, they would cope better with it.
If you find yourself doing this to yourself, say it out loud and ask yourself: Would I talk to a loved one or child the way I speak and treat myself now? The vulnerability you will experience while doing these exercises will allow you to trust in yourself, feel clearer about your decisions, and gain a better understanding of your true needs.
4 steps to seek support
1. If you have insurance, find a EMDR therapist that can help you reprocess the memory that resulted in the body and cognitive experience that causes these severe symptoms of anxiety.
2. If you experience mild to moderate anxiety about life situations, find a CBT therapist†
3. If you don’t have insurance, you can find yoga, guided meditation and awareness videos on YouTube or at your local library where they may offer free classes.
4. Tap into your support network of non-judgmental people, who you trust to share your anxiety, and who can see and help you apply coping skills to better manage symptoms.
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Bonus step: don’t give in to food, drugs or alcohol for support – it will likely have the opposite effect
Let’s begin this experiential challenge by choosing you and recognizing your skills and abilities.
Use your voice and give yourself a chance to experience joy and success while being authentically yourself in an uncensored, vulnerable space.
These tools will help you experience relief, and enable you to use your fear, to grow into the person you are meant to be. The secret is this: the skills mentioned can be used in all aspects of life, and your superpower of allowing yourself to welcome support and reintroduce curiosity into your life will enable you to make clearer decisions that your values, authenticity and goals.
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Nancy Andino is a licensed clinical social worker with 22 years in the healing field. Her focus is on healing individuals by providing authentically exploratory, bespoke and community healing experiences.
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