Dealing with Life’s Daily Anxieties
Have you ever felt that knot in your stomach that just won’t loosen, a feeling of discomfort and unease that lingers but you can’t put a finger on why? Sometimes you feel like you can’t take a deep breath, there is a niggling fear in the pit of your stomach and the back of your mind? What you are feeling is anxiety: a state of anticipation, worry or tension that manifests itself in your body and mind.
It is not difficult to see why there is so much anxiety around: we are almost regularly confronted by various stimuli that has the potency to trigger feelings of anxiety. In the day and age of social media where picture after picture of others’ happiness and success is plastered on our phones and our minds, it is hard to get away from doubts about ourselves, our future, our happiness. We are forced to confront our insecurities every other day, and it is not a pleasant feeling.
When we come across unpleasant situations or sensations, one of our most instinctive reactions is to avoid it quickly and as much as possible – by ignoring the feeling, by distracting ourselves or by trivializing it. The truth is that every time you ignore that niggling feeling, the more powerful it seems to become. Imagine a small monster in your mind that is asking for attention and every time you don’t give it attention it grows bigger and its tantrums grow louder and more persistent.
While it is an uncomfortable and at times debilitating state, the body has excellent ways of showing us that something needs to be addressed.
One of the interesting things about anxiety is that is sneaky; sometimes it is hard to recognize when it has snuck up on you from behind, and therefore difficult to identify its possible causes. When it comes to dealing with life’s daily anxieties, the most surefire way to overcome it is to address it.
Here are a few ways to do just that:
Address your anxiety on paper. What are you feeling right this moment?
Is it a tightness in the stomach? Or a headache? Do you feel anger? Shame? Sadness? Fear? Guilt? Jealousy? Experience your feelings, no matter how unpleasant, not suppressing them. Put it down on paper. Even if there is no clarity in the beginning, writing could be the catharsis you need.
Address your anxiety by confiding in someone
Bring it up with someone you trust and who will listen. Confide in them what you are worried about, how uncomfortable it feels, how hard it is to deal with. Actively open up about it. The monster becomes less scary when two people look at it inside and out in the broad daylight.
Address your anxiety by clearing the background noise
Sometimes feeling anxious is synonymous to feeling messy and disorganized. Target this from the outside in – clean up your living space, or organize your folders on your computer, or unclutter your closet. These activities involve a literal clearing up of the mess and have a similar cleansing effect on your mind.
Address your anxiety every single time
Anytime you find yourself feeling tensed, attend to it immediately and look within to see where it might have come from. How often do you find yourself feeling anxious? What happens when you do? What makes it feel better? Ignoring anxiety makes it longer-lasting. Address it each time, and you’ll find that it visits you less frequently and bothers you less when it does.
There are a variety of other tools that can help you deal with your anxiety: engaging in art, listening to music, meditation, simple relaxation techniques. It does not matter what tool you use, as long as you address it.
Pain seems like terrible thing precisely because it hurts, but in the human body serves us the extremely crucial function of informing us that something is wrong and gives a signal that all is not well. The little monster of anxiety is exactly like that. For as long as you don’t tend to where it hurts, it will keep hurting. Anxiety itself is not the problem, it is the signal that something is.
Do not be afraid of the little monster; it is a part of you and is actually doing you a favor. If in the near future it is asking for your attention, it seems safe to say that it warrants some.