This week, let’s talk about anxiety. Anxiety. Whoa. Just that word! So many of us are feeling this from time to time right now – mixed in with the grief and sadness and missing some of what life used to be like before this virus hit! As I watch schools try to bring closure to the end of the year without traditional celebration or older people who are already lonely now suffering from true solitude, I know that feelings of anxiety are appearing all over the place. We are all experiencing it in some form.
Anxiety, as defined by professionals, is an emotion characterized by tension, worried thoughts and sometimes physical changes like increased heart rate or blood pressure. We know that anxiety is not good when we hang onto it for long periods of time. In fact, as an emotion – it is meant to have MOTION – and move through us.
So, what do we do, when we sense that our feeling of anxiety is getting stuck or if it feels bigger than we can handle?
1) Acknowledge the feeling.
Take a moment to note how you feel, physically and mentally. Realize it is a feeling. Think about the words “I feel anxious” instead of saying “I am anxious.”
2) Own it.
It is a feeling. And, you feel it. And, then recognize that you are not the only one feeling this way. We are all in this together. Many of us are feeling anxious and worried.
Most of our negative feelings come from thinking about our past or our future. If we come back to the present moment, we can find a sense of calm that will enable us to better process the emotion instead of holding onto it. Try the 4×4 breath – in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts and repeat 4 times. Can you find a sense of calm?
4) Take Action.
Once we are calm, we can channel the emotion. The evolutionary role of worry is to protect us from something bad happening so it is meant to motivate action. Is there something you need to do? If there isn’t an immediate solution, how about taking an action to help someone else in your life who needs it? Thinking about others and showing kindness are a great way to feel better. Or, maybe you need to show yourself a little kindness. How can you take care of yourself a little better this week, and treat yourself the same way you would treat a good friend- with love, kindness, and compassion. Self-kindness triggers the release of oxytocin, which increases feelings of calm, safety, and connectedness, in addition to reducing fear and anxiety.
Sending kindness and compassion your way!
The Positive Foundry Team
PS – Want more? Click here to listen to this podcast on anxiety by Brené Brown.