Recently at our Stake Conference, our Stake President spoke of how MANY people in our area struggle with anxiety. In some ways, this is so surprising because we live in a fairly affluent area and most of us don’t have many of the pressures and stresses caused by economic concerns. But still, there it is, and I see it all the time in my coaching. It affects many areas of our lives and especially the one I care about most, our relationships.
Anxiety is a modern day epidemic. It seems to be a catchall, self diagnosis for many people and especially our youth. There are certain types of anxiety that are created by hormonal imbalances and can be treated by medications, but they are the exception and not the type I am referring to here. Although, these tips can be helpful for them as well!
As a society, we are not accustomed to experiencing discomfort anymore. We can heat or cool our environment within a few degrees of perfection.
If we are the tiniest bit hungry, we have plenty of readily available food to purchase on about every corner, as well as pre-prepared meals or snacks that are easy to just open or ready within a few short minutes.
When we feel the least bit bored, entertainment is right at our fingertips on our smartphones, tablets, TV’s… We don’t even have to learn to have conversations, we simply send an email or text.
Anxiety is a piggyback emotion that is created by a primary emotion, that feels uncomfortable and is not properly processed.
For example, many people who think they have social anxiety, have a primary emotion of shyness or insecurity. Sometimes it’s embarrassment or shame. But instead of allowing the discomfort, we stress about feeling the discomfort and then it spins into anxiety.
When we don’t deal with the primary emotion, it returns and escalates each time we encounter the same situation again, so then, even thinking about the situation makes us fear it even more.
Do you know an anxious driver? The primary emotion is fear. Thoughts of accidents and what if’s, create the emotion, and when the fear is not addressed… boom it becomes anxiety. (This is my greatest source of anxiety!)
ANXIETY IS AN EMOTION THAT PRETENDS TO BE NECESSARY.
When we understand that emotions are just a vibration in the body, caused by a thought in our brains, we can begin to exercise control over them.
Here are my top three tips to calm your inner anxiety storm.
1. Become the watcher. When you feel anxiety arise, notice the thoughts that precede it. Write them down. Ask yourself, “Why am I choosing to think this?”
2. Exhale. Exhaling strongly will set you up to breathe better. Better breathing will help the tightness in your chest to subside.
3. Name the emotion and study the feeling. When you feel anxiety arise, notice it and name it. “Oh, that is anxiety.” Then observe the feeling. Where is it located in your body? Describe how it feels. Get curious. “What is the primary emotion I’m feeling?” “What is the thought causing that feeling?”
When you become the watcher, you can come to understand that it’s just a vibration, and no matter what your brain is telling you, an emotion will not kill you. When you just allow the emotion to be there without trying to push it away, it will move through you more quickly and you can return to a proper balance without it escalating to an unhealthy level.
When we are swimming in anxiety, our brains can’t focus on other things, like the joy of building our relationship, becoming a better communicator, serving our spouse, etc… If this is a problem for you, coaching can help and I would love to show you how!