A strange concept? A crazy one? Ridiculous even? Considering the impact anxiety can have on us – heart racing, stomach clenching, breathing ragged, thoughts all jumbled up or going a mile a minute, feelings of impending doom or deep negativity. Surely the best solution is to ignore anxiety or take medicine to control it, just somehow get rid of it from our lives.
But anxiety is a completely normal and neccessary human emotion. It alerts us to danger, allows us to react faster to emergencies, helps us perform under pressure and motivates us to deal with difficult challenges. That is, the “right” amount of anxiety. But too much can lead to system overload and the effects above.
So how can we know what is the “right” amount?
Firstly, identify anxiety in ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. Be aware of the effects on ourselves as individuals. Notice how long we are feeling anxious and how we respond to it. Do you feel anxious, act on it or use your logical side to reason it out and then the feelings subside? Or are you feeling anxious for no obvious reason, or feel overwhelmed as though the feelings and thoughts associated with it are out of control? Do you feel a low level anxiety constantly over a period of more than a few weeks?
Secondly, learn how to manage your anxiety. Different techniques work for different people. Can you identify certain triggers or situations that provoke an anxious response? Perhaps focusing on your breath in the moment can help. Or naming 5 objects you can see around you and 4 sounds you can hear. Maybe you need to go to a quieter, calmer place or a certain person can be of assistance.
Thirdly, can you hear what your anxiety is trying to communicate to you? All thoughts, feelings and bodily senations provide us with information about how we are in the world right now. Is your anxiety trying to alert you to danger? Is it trying to motivate you into action? Is it trying to help you in some way, as a friend would, if only you could tune into its wisdom?
If you feel like you would benefit from a safe place to explore your anxiety and listen to it more or to learn the best techniques to help you manage it, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our contact page. Maybe making friends with your anxiety is a step too far but learning to listen can definitely be beneficial.