Two Ways to take Anxiety's power
There's so much power in the words we use, and over the last decade, the word anxiety has become increasingly loaded - and far more common.
Anxiety used to be the feeling when you were frantically rushing to catch a plane. Now, for many people, it feels like a permanent state of being. Statistics tell us that anxiety levels are higher than ever before - for workers, teens, children. Anxiety disorders are listed as the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 18% of the entire population at any one time - and here in Aotearoa 15% of Kiwis are likely to be experiencing anxiety right now.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal human emotion, but if you feel worried or anxious so often that it becomes part of daily life, that may be an anxiety disorder. Generalised anxiety disorder is really common, and shows up as feeling very worried about things most of the time or frequently overwhelmed with anxiety and fear - even when the situation isn't really extreme. Often people begin to avoid friends and family, have low self esteem and energy, have trouble sleeping, and take more days off work. If you feel this way, you may also be at risk of depression.
By the time normal anxiety has become 'Generalised Anxiety', it has become a huge subliminal 'programme' we are constantly running, which has been conditioned by the words we hear around us, and by the words we use internally.
As a society we have given the word ANXIETY so much overwhelming power, and we use it too often, for too many feelings. We talk about anxiety as an ongoing state instead of a passing emotion, and so people begin to believe they are expected to live with it, and feel it, all the time.
Technically, anxiety is about fear.
Primarily anxiety is about about fear for the future, and depression is about regret for the past.
You can break fear down into worry, nervousness, doubt, dread, fright, panic. All of these are valid feelings, but they don't have to stay with us or become a habit. Sometimes we even mistake excitement for anxiety.
True anxiety is when you continually and repeatedly run scenarios in your head about what can go wrong - and if nothing looks like it is going to go wrong, you begin worrying about what might go wrong.
You might also want to sign up to our $150 Time to Thrive online programme which has 10 modules, a number of which are specifically focused on managing stress and mindfulness for calm and connection.
Read on for some helpful tips on dealing with anxiety.
How to face anxiety + disempower it
Use your words to shape your world
Language is absolutely core to our inner state. Instead of saying Anxiety, try to use more accurate words to describe how you feel in each moment. Are you nervous? Excited? Nervously excited? Apprehensive? Anticipating? Flustered? Bothered? Rushed? Pressured?
All of these words describe feelings that we expect won't last long, and are a lot less scary than Anxiety. If you envisage how you feel when you are nervous, compared to how you feel when you are suffering from anxiety, it will give you a very different feeling in your body, and your mind.
Where do you feel nervousness, compared to where you feel anxiety? Is it a bit like this?
Saying you have anxiety affects how people respond too. They are likely to treat it as a serious problem that they can't help you with. Anxiety suggests a much bigger and more pervasive issue than nervousness, and people are less likely to be encouraging and up beat about what you can do to feel better.
We talk about kids suffering from anxiety and they believe us, and do. Instead we could be talking to them about having times of feeling nervousness, apprehension, even nervous excitement and anticipation (which are great feelings to have!)
There are way better descriptions for all the many nuances of our feelings! Let's start using them. Instead of saying we ‘suffer from anxiety’ let's say 'I am nervous right now'.
Create your own mantra that helps you release and re-centre - like "I step easily and joyously through life" or "I make my decisions to bring balance into my life".
Antidote anxiety by being present
Be all here, now. Be aware you can’t change the past, and you can not control the future, or any factors outside your control in the present.
We actually never actually 'get to' the future, so it's a waste of time worrying about possibilities that may or may not happen.
There’s now. Then there’s now; then there’s now.
You can plan to influence what you can in the future, but when you get there it's just now.
You can’t control the weather and you can’t control the governments and you can’t control every aspect of your health, and you can't control other people's choices about if they are happy or sad.
All of the things that are outside your control are not worth worrying about, or feeling anxious about – so your challenge with these is to learn to allow and accept.
You can be aware of these things, and of possibilities for the future - but you can also free yourself from the burden of anxiety over things you cannot change.
Focus on being present. Be aware of your thoughts and notice if they are they about the future, the past, or now.
You can create a small ritual to bring you back to the present, like enjoying the scent of a spray of Organic Citrus Air Care, or taking Organic Rescue.
Add a 10 minute space of being present to each day with Sama Blocking to help your body practice feeling calm.
If you have trouble being present, do sign up to Time to Thrive and complete the Being Present module. This online wellbeing programme has a number of aspects which are specifically designed to help you be calm, connected and present - leave stress and anxiety behind!