What is anxiety? One change you can make today to return to calm again
What is anxiety?
Anxiety can be an overwhelming experience. It can feel like a churning engine that won’t slow down. Many people have difficulty with anxiety, and sometimes feel like they can’t return to calm. Instead, they might try to suppress it or push it down. Often we try to get rid of it by overworking, by drinking, by smoking, or busying ourselves.
Two things about anxiety
The first thing I want you to know about anxiety is this: anxiety in itself is a good thing. Anxiety is the body’s natural response to perceived threat in the environment. It’s there to keep us safe, to help us be aware of when we’re feeling threatened or vulnerable.
The second thing I want you to know about anxiety is that anxiety can be difficult to control. We want to experience awareness of anxiety, be aware of it, then soothe ourselves. Yet often that’s not what happens. We worry, we hold on, we stay up at night. We get frustrated with ourselves for feeling anxious. We feel terribly alone when we’re anxious. We’re afraid that the anxiety won’t go away.
One change you can make today
Suppressing anxiety is part of the cycle. Suppressing – whether it’s through overworking, thumbing through social media, addictive behaviors, or busying ourselves – doesn’t actually soothe us when we’re anxious. It’s similar to minimizing an app that still runs in the background, instead of taking care of the feeling.
So how do we take care of anxiety? How do we return to calm? No matter what feeling we have, we are meant to experience the feeling, feel fully conscious of it, soothe ourselves, and therefore feel free to decide what to do with it. It’s a movement from disempowerment to empowerment, from unconscious acting-out of our feelings to conscious awareness and choice.
This process of soothing begins with language-ing our feelings. It starts with articulating, sometimes even out loud, exactly what we’re feeling. If this is difficult, you might even, right now, try saying out loud, “I’m anxious”, or “I’m afraid”. What does it feel like to say this? Imagine saying this to someone you love or trust. What do you notice happening to you even as you imagine saying this to the person you picture?
Learning to manage anxiety
Learning a new way to manage anxiety is like learning to ride a bike. It takes guidance, time, and practice. It takes letting yourself feel the anxious feelings more fully so you can be conscious, aware, and empowered. We guide people through this journey everyday in our downtown Los Angeles counseling practice.
We can help you learn to manage your anxiety and live with greater confidence and control in your life. Give us a call and schedule a 15 minute free consultation. We look forward to taking the first step with you.