Wouldn’t it be nice if life was one long strand of expected events? If there were never a cancelled appointment, an overdraft at the bank, a broken air conditioner? The big and little surprises in life are the ones that can really cause us to go into a tailspin. My clients tend to report that they have a moderate to high moderate level of baseline anxiety, but when unexpected events come along to exacerbate this, they report that they can become incapacitated, or at least experience a reduction in quality of life.
So how do you handle this? First of all I recommend addressing the baseline anxiety level. Good self care is the first step. Clients who report high baseline anxiety rarely have an answer when I ask what they do to take care of themselves. Good nutrition, exercise and rest are vital, but they do not completely address the problem. Having a regular routine of activities that nurture the soul is an integral part of reducing baseline anxiety symptoms. Whether it is taking the time to read the newspaper, a bubble bath, time in the garden, or an evening of stargazing, soul nurturing activities are my go-to for helping clients cope on a daily basis.
When the surprises come along, I recommend stopping, taking some deep breaths and really focusing on the body. Get grounded by noticing your feet on the floor. Feel the chair on the back of your legs and the breeze on your skin. Notice the smells in the room. Then pay attention to where you have the “felt sense” of that anxiety in your body. Is it a tightness or lump in your chest or stomach? Short shallow breaths? Muscle tightening all over? Notice your body’s response to the anxiety and do the opposite of what your body wants to do. So take slow, deep breaths, progressively relax your muscles and visualize your heart rate slowing down. This is important in stopping the hormonal cascade that occurs with anxiety.
The next step is in allowing the anxious energy to flow through you instead of resisting it. Notice it is there by saying “there is anxiety” and let it pass through you without judgement. Watch it like you would watch waves on an EKG machine passing on and off the screen. Visualize the energy leaving your body just like it came in. Not resisting it and remembering to breathe are the keys.
Addressing the thoughts that trigger anxiety is the very important work of therapy, but you can apply these physical interventions at home to bring yourself relief fairly quickly. If you need more help addressing anxiety symptoms call me at 770-789-0847 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation and also see my website at www.carolyntuckertherapist.com.