Learning how to manage our anxiety is one of the most important parts of our recovery. Many of us living with addictions and mental health issues find that our anxiety can often exacerbate the other challenges we’re facing. Dealing with our anxiety can help us to navigate the issues in our lives, to cope with our struggles and to find a greater sense of inner peace. Sometimes when we are faced with anxiety, we are often overcome with fear, because our anxiety represents deeper underlying fears we may not have yet resolved. These deep-rooted fears can make us feel overwhelmed and confused, rendering us unable to manage them and the accompanying anxiety. Here are a few suggestions on how to deal with anxiety when it strikes.
Without realizing it, many of us are breathing rapid, short and shallow breaths, which can both cause and exacerbate anxiety. Breathing exercises are a natural way to calm ourselves down, bring ourselves some peace and clarity, and balance our nervous systems. Practice taking deep breaths. It might feel very difficult at first, especially at the height of a crisis. One exercise you can try is 1:2 breathing (make your exhale twice as long as your inhale.)
One form of meditation involves focusing your attention on your breath and bringing your attention back to your breath every time your mind wanders, which it will inevitably do. This practice helps us begin to learn how to slow our minds down, and to pay less attention to the fearful, anxious thoughts overwhelming us. As we begin to be able to control our minds, we come to see we have more power over our thoughts than we might have believed we did. Anxiety can make us feel like our minds are out of control, like we are being tortured by our painful thoughts, but meditation helps us to recognize that our thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t have to cause us as much pain if we don’t allow them to.
Affirmations are a powerful tool to redirect our thoughts when we are experiencing anxiety and to bring ourselves a sense of calm and peace. Create affirmations in the present tense. Try phrases such as “I am at peace within myself. I am calm. I am healing.” Repetition of affirmations over time helps to reprogram our subconscious minds to heal the underlying fears causing our anxiety in the first place.
Learning how to manage our anxiety can help us in all areas of our lives. The community at Vista Taos is here to help. Call us at (575) 586-5078.