Anxiety is the result of thinking about the future or worrying about the future. When it starts to creep in, what do you do? Does it over power you that you freeze and feel stuck? Do you panic? Do you freak out and feel lost on what to do?
Where did anxiety come from? How come some people don’t get anxious about the same things?
Anxiety is rooted in trauma. We become anxious because we are afraid that something bad might happen in the future because something bad had happened to us in the past. Anxiety is usually irrational thinking that consumes us. It was caused by the schema that was ingrained in our brain due to an event that happened in our past or a repeated event that kept happening in our past. An event that we had no control of or an event that disempowered us.
Can you ever get rid of it? Can you exercise your way out of it?
Our brain is very malleable. Anxiety will not go away in a flick of wand or a snap of fingers or by running. But we can learn healthy coping skills that can help us become less anxious or help us handle anxiety better. I say healthy coping skills because some people have many unhealthy ways to cope with anxiety and here are examples: excessive alcohol drinking, abusing medication, drugs, over exercising, over eating, unsafe sex, risky behaviours or other types of addiction. Doing these things excessively or in unsafe and unhealthy ways can do more harm than good. None of these activities are helpful if you do not process the trauma that happened in your life. Because none of these activities, even exercising or yoga or running, can heal shame, guilt and loss.
So what can we do?
- You need to process your trauma or your past. Understanding what happened to us in the past, will answer the questions that we have. What are these questions?
- Why do I feel this way?
- Why can’t I control my anger or feelings?
- Why am I angry all the time?
- Why do I end up in situations like this all the time?
- Why do I date someone like him or her all the time?
- Why are people mean to me?
- Why can’t I trust anyone? (BIG ONE)
- Why am I scared?
- Why can’t I ….
And so on and so forth. You need a professional to guide you in processing your past so you can have a clearer future. Knowing your life story gives you a better understanding of yourself. So seek a trauma counselor.
- Create a tool box. It is best to know some coping skills you can use when anxiety starts to creep in. Examples of this are:
- Breathing techniques – breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, breathe out for 5 seconds
- Cognitive Triangle – think of a triangle that symbolizes change. When irrational thoughts come, question that thought and change it.
- Count backwards – 10, 9, 8, 7, 6….
- Go for a walk
- Listen to podcasts
- Self care – exercise, yoga, run, spin
- Meditate – try Headspace
- Read something inspirational
- Go out with friends
- Say affirmations to yourself (I’ve done my best and that is good enough)
- Journaling and writing down our thoughts
- Grateful – being thankful of the things and people that bring us joy. Paying more attention to what makes us smile and happy. Focus on those when anxiety starts to creep in.
- Use your right side of the brain more. Art is associated with our right side of the brain. We are usually very logical thinkers. We use the left side of our brains a lot more. Creating something helps relieve anxiety. You do not need to be Picasso to create anything. You can color (coloring books), you can doodle, you can knit, you can take pictures, collage, etc… Create create create… use the right side of your brain more…
We can train our brain. It takes a lot of self awareness to learn how to be less anxious, but with practice, it only gets easier. If we are more self aware of what triggers our anxiety then we can use these actionable tips to help us feel less anxious. As time goes and the more we use these tools the more we can control our anxiety and this will be automatic for us that it may seem like we have changed our schema. But at the end of the day, we need to understand ourselves more by knowing where our anxiety was rooted from and a therapist can help us process that.