Anxiety can be so distressing, uncomfortable and debilitating that we want to avoid feeling it as much as possible. As we work towards healing, we learn that the more we resist an emotion, the stronger it gets. When we shun and reject our anxiety because we’re avoiding trying to feel it, very often we find that it gets even worse. An important part of working our recovery program is choosing to learn from our anxiety and discovering what wisdom we can glean from it.
Approaching our anxiety with mindfulness can help us learn a great deal. Start noticing how your anxiety feels and functions within you. Where does it show up in your body? You might feel shortness of breath, or tight, clenched muscles. You might feel your heart beat faster and your palms sweat. When these feelings arise, instead of panicking about them, just sit with them, notice them and allow them to be there. When we can accept our anxiety, we can more easily work through it and allow ourselves to learn from it.
What triggers your anxiety? Are there specific thoughts, feelings, behaviors or events that bring on anxiety for you, such as large crowds or public speaking? Maybe a certain memory is a trigger for you, or when you feel despondent about a past experience, you also feel anxious at the same time. Sometimes when we are overtired, overworked, lonely, or even hungry, we can experience spikes in our anxiety. Try to pinpoint your triggers, and write them down so that you can explore them more deeply. What unresolved issues are causing your anxiety? What have you yet to heal from? Our anxiety can function like a gateway to our healing if we are open to exploring it.
What are your anxiety responses? How do you respond to your anxiety, to the people and things that trigger you? How does your anxiety influence your thoughts, feelings and behaviors? Maybe you start to overthink when you are anxious. Maybe it makes you impatient, reactive or even angry. Start to pay attention to the ways in which your anxiety affects you. You can write them down, along with your triggers, to help you process them more thoroughly. Work with a therapist to help you get to the root of the underlying issues causing your anxiety. The more we explore rather than reject our anxiety, the more we can learn from it and discover ways to heal it.
Our therapy, mindfulness and other education programs can help you heal your anxiety. Call (575) 613-4810 for more information.