Recovering from anxiety takes work!
While commitment and perseverance are required, willingness to accept anxiety and anxious feelings are necessary in order to truly recover. David Gandelman of GroundedMind.com offers the following 4 step approach to coping with and releasing anxiety:
1. Find. Finding your anxiety means tuning in to the sensations in your body. Anxiety is always accompanied by tension in the body. By focusing on body sensations, you are able to disconnect from your anxious thoughts and reconnect with your body.
Once you identify the physical sensations of anxiety, which can include muscle tension, feeling dizzy, hot, a racing heart, or shaking hands, you can begin to cope with the sensations in order to alleviate them. Mindful observance is one tool you can use as you wait for the symptoms to subside. With curiosity and non-judgment, just observe your sensations until they pass because guess what? They always pass!
2. Feel. There’s an old saying, “If you don’t feel it, you can’t heal it” and with anxiety, this is certainly true. Anxiety feels awful! But rather than resist the feelings, leaning into them, accepting them as they are and allowing them to pass is the only way to overcome anxiety.
Allowing yourself to feel your anxiety in order to overcome it takes courage and compassion. We instinctively want to run away from our anxious feelings, but this prevents us from learning to cope. If we learn to befriend our feelings, both the positive and the negative, our lives become richer. The truth is, your life is going to have both positive and negative experiences, and if you are able to be with your negative experiences and take care of yourself in those moments, you’ll feel confident and empowered to know that you are able to handle whatever life throws your way.
3. Face. Facing your anxiety means turning toward it instead of running away. When anxiety hits or we suspect it might, we want to escape or avoid the situations that provoke it. Our brain tricks us into thinking things like that noisy and crowded restaurant is going to give me anxiety, so I’ll just stay home. Avoidance only reinforces anxiety and it shrinks your life. The only way to get over or out of anxiety is to go through!
To face your anxiety, expect and accept that you are going to feel uncomfortable...at first! When you repeatedly face your fears, it will get easier. The anxiety will be less intense, it will not last as long, and eventually, you may never feel it again. But, even if you do, you will have plenty of practice with coping through it. When facing your fears, remind yourself that you are taking steps to overcome your anxiety once and for all and that you are no longer allowing anxiety to bully you.
4. Heal. Healing anxiety is possible. For some, complete remission of any and all symptoms are possible. For others, traces of anxiety may linger, and on occasion spike, but when you are able to cope, your life does not have to shut down. The definition of true recovery is when you are able to live your best life and successfully cope with anything that interferes.
Healing your anxiety takes commitment, compassion, and acceptance. If you can see anxiety as a part of you that needs your care and attention, and you befriend your anxiety rather than seeing it as the enemy and trying to push it away, you will be on your way to a less fearful and more enjoyable life.