Dealing With Anxiety
Anxiety. It's a seven letter word that attaches itself to people, and follows them around like their own shadow on a bright sunny day. For many, it's inescapable. And it's torturous. And unfortunately, it also has a partner in crime. Its name is Fear. These two all consuming, utterly overwhelming attachments can completely over-rule someone's life. It will dictate the how's, when's and where's of every aspect of their day. And it can be absolutely debilitating.
I believe it is extremely important to acknowledge all of the above, and not underestimate the negative impact fear and anxiety can have on a person. I do however also believe, that if those who suffer with fear and anxiety properly develop a thorough understanding, and are educated with the utmost care and nurture about this neurodevelopment disorder, then over time, they can slowly attempt to detach from them.
Let me explain this concept in a little bit more detail...
We all have labels attached to us. Labels like teacher, student, engineer, waiter, mother, son, grand-father, etc. (I think you get my drift now..) These, are essentially titles, or labels that we carry with us. Collective Nouns that ultimately help identify what class, or group each of us are associated with. What these titles or labels don't do, is define the person. They don't describe the person's personality, their demeanour, characteristics etc.
When people living with fear and anxiety can begin to refer to their fears and anxieties as titles or labels, rather than it being a part of their DNA, and acknowledge that fear and anxiety do not define them as people, then mental and emotional detachment can occur. I'm not saying that in any way shape or form this is an easy thing to do. However, this is why I have made mention that support and nurture, along with educating one's self with the help of the right person/people is vital.
It's also really important to realise and understand that the mind is the most powerful tool on earth. We all know how easy it is to let our minds take us on a journey that can bring forth negative emotions and fears that may not necessarily be true. Our thoughts can ultimately distort our reality, therefore exacerbating our anxiety, and crippling us over time. With prolonged exposure to this way of thinking and living, we lose our sense of who we actually are in this world.
Learning to calm your mind can very much result in calming your body. And likewise, in reverse, calming the body can create a calm mind. When we learn to recognise the first signs of anxiety creeping in, we can take control, and regain our power.
Here are some useful ideas that you can use to help you when you need it.
MEDITATION: Let's be honest, everything is a little hard at first when you've never tried it before. But the old saying rings true - "Practise makes perfect!" And learning to meditate is not as difficult as it might sound. A regular practise of meditating helps to quite the mind, and initiates the para-sympathetic nervous system within your body, helping the natural state of homeostasis (the body's natural relaxation response) to occur.
MINDFULNESS: I've deliberately separated mindfulness from meditation, because personally, meditation for me is a practise that I do in stillness and quiet. Mindfulness on the other hand is an approach one can practise that allows you to be more present. Whether it be through conscious breathing, colouring, drawing, going for a run, a yoga session, or even dancing, being mindful allows you to focus on being in the present moment. The here and now. Eliminating the thinking or thought processes that stem from past experiences, or hypothesising about the future.
EXERCISE: Exercise is a wonderful way to allow your body to release endorphins. These hormones interact with the receptors in your brain that help to reduce fear based thinking and anxiety.
DEEP BREATHING & THE VAGUS NERVE: Also known as the tenth cranial nerve, the Vagus Nerve is the longest, largest, most complex of the cranial nerves within your body. It sprawls out of your brain and into your body as this magnificent and intricate network of nerves, and essentially acts as lines of communication between your brain and your body's many systems and organs. The action of taking a long, conscious deep breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth, acts as a reset button to our Vagus Nerve. Stimulating this nerve has a positive effect on the functioning of your body, and can help to decrease or eliminate fear and anxiety.
EDUCATION: I have left this one till last for a very good reason. Educating ones self is the foundation to taking back your power. You can, I believe, undeniably take control and learn that YOU are NOT your fears and anxieties. YOU are an amazing human, who with the right support and nurture, can become educated in understanding the neurological research underpinning this neurodevelopment disorder, and therefore become more aware of what you can do to detach, and take control of how you think and feel. Reclaiming the free life you so truly deserve to live.