Questions about Anxiety

What We Can Do About Anxiety

People describe the anxiety they live with as constant, but they can also realize that many times throughout the day the anxiety is not there or is less present.

Noticing these times can be very helpful.
People who experience anxiety can then ask themselves the following questions:

  • What can you learn from those times?
  • Are there generalizations you can make?
  • How did you contribute to the anxiety not being there?
  • What is there instead?

Although most people want to exclude anxiety from their lives, for some, changing their relationship with anxiety has been useful and taken them in surprising directions. A new relationship can begin by simply being open and curious to what the anxiety may be trying to say. For example,

  • When Mary tried this approach, she noticed when anxiety was at a one out of ten, instead of six out of ten. At one she knew how to respond so that she stayed in charge, whereas at six, it was too late.
  • Ethan learned that anxiety was keeping him from slowing down. By noticing how anxiety was running his life, he was able to leave his high-powered business career and later become the owner of a bike shop. He is much happier in his new life and is thankful that he paid attention to the anxiety so that he could move in a new direction.

Sometimes, anxiety may represent dominant cultural stories that are oppressive and literally panic-inducing.

  • When Sarah paid attention to messages of anxiety, she discovered that they were about her “having” to get married and have kids. She did not agree with those messages, and, once she was aware of the feelings they invoked, she could talk back and not let them stop her from following her own path.

All of these experiences reflect different relationships people developed with anxiety.

It can also be helpful to learn the tactics of the anxiety so that you can counter them.

  • For Sarah, once she learned that the anxiety whispered messages about her being an inadequate woman, she countered them by being with other single women she admired, and she found ways to celebrate her professional accomplishments and important personal relationships.

Calming the anxiety can also be a big help.

  • Lisa discovered that when the anxiety began, she would scream at herself and call herself names. When she was able to reassure herself, as she would a scared friend, she felt much better and the anxiety diminished.

Another possibility is creating a daily time for worry. When anxiety begins, it can be calmed by relegating it to that time.

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