Breaking Free from the Habit of Anxiety
“How do I stop my anxiety?”
Anxiety is actually a learned behavior that surfaces in behaviors and with repetition becomes a habit. Ask yourself, "who did I grow up with that experienced anxiety? at what point of my life did I begin to experience it? what was happening around or to me? " These questions can bring awareness and empower you to rise out of the emotional and physical states of anxiety into becoming the "present moment alpha" in your life.
“What began in the past does not have to control my present.”
Recognize Your Inner Self, Parts, or Children
Think back to a moment where you felt strong emotions as a child. Let's remember back to the first day of school together. Feel the emotions you experienced that day... scared, worried, or super-excited, happy. This child is simply one of the many younger-you's that reside within in the form of a synapse in your brain. Each synapse or memory, whether it was 5 minutes or 50 years ago, is a younger you. Every synapse holds within it: your physical, emotional, and social age; a situation; a setting; other people; sensory associations (smells, sights, temperature, etc); and emotional states (happiness, stress, rejection, validation, belonging, pain, etc). Situations in present time activate or turn on synapses in memory through these associations and emotional states. When they flip on, you FEEL or THINK every thing residing in that memory. If you aren't aware of this, it is very easy to assume what you are feeling or thinking belongs to the present you instead of the memory. We can even BELIEVE we are the memory... identify with those much younger feelings or behaviors as our current self. But once you realize the difference, you become in control of everything!
Give Yourself Permission to Experiment with the Following Strategies!
1. “I'm here with you. You are not alone. I'll take care of you!"
The moment you feel worry or anxiety begin, locate it ( your stomach? chest? throat? ears?) take 5 deep breaths and speak to it! Let that part of you know "I've got this" it's ok! ALL IS WELL!! This actually stops the amygdala hijack of freeze, fight or flight
2. “Do you want to jump, walk, or run to make this worry energy go away?"
Listen for the answer. The subconscious mind is in charge of all the bodily functions and knows exactly what is wrong and how to fix it! Learn to ask yourself what you can do to make it better instead of the old habit of spiraling in feelings of helplessness. You aren't. Anxiety is a memory being activated that causes chemicals that effect the heart rate and breathing. Five deep breaths or movement like walking, jumping, or running immediately eject endorphins into the brain that feel pleasurable and empowering!
3. “Let's draw it!"
Give permission to STOPPING. Stop when you feel anxiety or strong emotions being triggered. Give permission to RESOLVING it. Take a writing implement and draw how you feel in a simple doodle. Or draw your breath ... breathe in for 4 counts (belly button out) and out for 6 (belly button moving in). Draw what your breath feels like with each breath for 5 breaths. See if the drawing changes as you focus on the belly button moving in and out.
4. “What is your anxiety, worry, strong feeling saying to you? What would you like to say back to it?"
Imagine your feelings are a MESSENGER. Write down in one sentence what this messenger is wanting you to know. Respond to the messenger in one sentence. Take a belly button deep breath before writing down each response. Learn from yourself about yourself. We can never hope to heal or grow without understanding what is wrong, where it came from, and what is needed to make it change. Take the time to Understand yourself instead of using anxiety as a coping strategy to avoid unresolved parts of yourself.
These three powerful tools will train your brain to give up the habit of primal freeze, fight or flight behaviors by replacing it with logic, interaction, and resolution seeking. These are tools for healing and change but also Feel Great!