Anxiety is strange.  Sometimes we don’t even notice it and sometimes it feels like we can’t escape it. It may look and feel different at different stages of life. Sometimes, it catches us by surprise at the worst possible times.

Anxiety may feel like a useful protector, a cruel captor, a strange unwanted guest, a terrorist, a punishing coach, a soothing companion, or even a comedian.

Negotiating a healthy relationship with anxiety is key and there are lots of tools available that can help you do that. Not everything works for everyone so sometimes it takes trying a variety of strategies before finding the right one.

 

Here’s the question: is it possible to eliminate anxiety?

Here’s the truth:  No.

Anxiety exists for a reason.  It’s more active in some people than others, but it serves a purpose and exists by design to keep us safe. It’s what keeps you from walking in front of a bus and it may push you in your work or home life. But sometimes, it gets out of control and feels unwieldy.

We may not be able to get rid of anxiety entirely but we can change our relationship to it so drastically that it doesn’t even resemble the anxiety that has tormented us.

We may even come to appreciate it.  Seriously, I mean that.

The key is to stop beating up on yourself for having it and to greet the anxiety with compassion and curiosity.

Renegotiating your relationship with Anxiety is totally doable.

 

Here are a few easy tools that may help you:

Anxiety Tool #1: Meditation and Mindfulness

Many people believe Meditation and Mindfulness requires us to clear our mind of thoughts.  This is not true or even possible.  The goal is to notice our thoughts and feelings without feeling so consumed by them.  Your thoughts and feelings are just passing by.  You do not need to always grab hold of them.

That being said, sitting quietly and clearing your mind may feel doable for many people. Fortunately, there are guided meditations on apps like Insight Timer that allow you to try different styles of Mindfulness/Meditation.

 

Anxiety Tool #2: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques (CBT)

CBT operates on the principle that our thoughts inform how we feel which changes outcomes. We can make shifts to our thoughts that will create shifts in our emotional experience as well.

In other words, don’t believe everything you think and consider making shifts to thoughts that don’t serve you.

If you are having an anxious thought, slow down and look at the thought. Ask yourself, what’s the evidence that this thought is true. What is the evidence that it is not true. Adjust the thought taking all of the evidence into account. Don’t lie to yourself, but adjust the thought based on the evidence.

Often, we distort truths and have thoughts that exacerbate our anxiety. By shifting our thoughts, we can shift our emotional experience. This may sound challenging. It gets easier with practice and there are some excellent workbooks like this one that will help you learn some CBT strategies.

 

Anxiety tool #3: Journaling

Write it down. Put your thoughts, feelings and fears on paper. They look different there than they do swirling in your head. You may find some clarity by writing it down or you may see it differently once you put it on the page.

Journaling is easy and an excellent tool for processing anxious thoughts.

These tools are incredibly effective at managing anxiety. Try them out. See what works. And if you struggle, reach out for support. Therapy helps. Sometimes, we create our anxiety and we don’t even see it happening. It’s that forest/trees thing. Getting an outside perspective may help you see the forest, the trees, and possibly even the seedlings.

Sometimes anxiety is complex and renegotiating our relationship with it can be challenging. Sometimes the anxious thoughts that come up are rooted in trauma. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp the tools and make them work on our own. Therapy can help.

 

If you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of our therapists, please reach out.

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