Feeling Anxious About Being Anxious?

Feeling Anxious About Being Anxious?

Anxiety has become the modern-day epidemic of the 21st century. Trying to find serenity in today’s age of anxiety seems like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

It’s quite normal to feel nervous, uneasy, worried, fearful, and apprehensive during the course of our hectic lives. Anxiety is our body’s natural reaction to stressful events and serves as a built-in emergence system to protect us when we are facing danger, making us more alert and preparing us for necessary action. That’s a good thing. 

However, if we keep seeing danger lurking in every corner, we continue to set off false alarms and cause the anxiety to become persistent, intense, and chronic. It can feel overwhelming and difficult to control, as well as interfere with our daily life activities. It can also cause a host of other problems from heart palpitations to rapid breathing, sweating, chest pains, nausea, suffocating sensations, fatigue, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fear of death and insanity.

Anxiety occurs when we try to control the uncontrollable and put our focus on some negative thing that may or may not happen in the future. The antidote for peace of mind is found only in the moment, which means we need to learn how to focus on the present and on the positive. 

Here are a few suggestions to help you defuse your panic button and remain CALM:

C   Coping Techniques

  • For fast-acting relief, slow down and breathe. Since anxiety causes your breath to become  faster and more shallow, it makes sense that the first line of defence is to take slow, deep breaths. Practice full abdominal breathing. Do some breathing exercises like the 4:7:8 count ( breathe in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, and exhale to the count of 8).
  • Practice relaxation exercises on a regular basis so that you can train your body to become relaxed and it will know what to do the next time you tell it to chill out. Everyone knows they need to relax but no one has actually been taught how to relax.
  • Take a mental break and practice guided imagery or meditation. This trains your mind to become quiet and access your inner calm, so you can melt away the tension, clear the negative chatter, and know that everything is okay.


A    Accept What is Happening

  • Do not panic or try to fight it. The more you try to control it, the more anxiety you will create. Just learn to go with the flow and allow the wave of panic to wash over you. There is literally a wave of cortisone and adrenaline pumping through your body, and the rush will subside within 10 to 15 minutes. Give yourself permission to feel the anxiety and allow it to run its course. You will then be able to move quickly and easily through the panic.
  • Don’t judge yourself for having those sensations for they are a normal, healthy reaction your body is producing in order to deal with stress. 
  • Don’t fear anxiety; embrace it and learn to see it as a signal. 
  • Focus on the things you can change by becoming proactive instead of reactive.

L    Learn to Tune In and Turn Off the Alarm. 

  • Listen to your inner dialogue. Challenge your fearful thoughts and disarm your inner critic by shifting to a more positive perspective. The physiological responses are triggered by what you think about the situation. Instead of saying “Oh no, not again” and anticipating the worst, turn the “What ifs” to “What can I do now?” 
  • Lean into those negative messages by replacing them with positive affirmations like, “I am calm.” “I can handle this.” “This too shall pass.”  
  • Anxiety may be uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous. Remind yourself that you are safe. As soon as you stop dreading anxiety, you will instantly start feeling calmer.
  • Anxiety starts in your head and what you tell yourself, so become aware and recognize your triggers. Eliminate those catastrophic thoughts by countering the mistaken or distorted thinking patterns.  

M   Mindfulness; Reframe, Refocus, Redirect

  • Focus on the present by keeping yourself centered, and grounded.
  • Focus your attention on your 5 senses with the 5:4:3:2:1 exercise: Name 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can touch, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you smell, and 1 thing you can taste. 
  • The 3:3:3 exercise: name 3 things you see, 3 sounds you hear, and move 3 parts of your body. These exercises are designed to bring your attention to the present and anchor you in your immediate environment. 
  • Other distractions can include listening to music, going for a walk, dancing, exercising, engaging in a hobby that you enjoy doing, talking to someone, writing out your thoughts and feelings in a journal, splashing your face with ice cold water or placing a cold hand towel on the back of your neck, doing some house chores, watching a funny movie, or reading a good book. 
  • Sometimes you may need to remove yourself from a stressful situation so you can come back when you are calmer. Make sure that when you step away, you come back and face your fears by taking action. Otherwise, running away gives the message that you can’t handle it, which will increase your anxiety next time you are in that same situation. 
  • There are a lot of healthy strategies to assist you in dealing with anxiety and self care; however, if you find that anxiety is getting in the way of your work, social life, and health, it may be time to ask for professional help.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, tobacco, and other substances. 
  • Try to eat a well-balanced healthy diet, with regular exercise and proper sleep hygiene. 
  • Make sure to maintain good social support.
  • Do your best and don’t seek out perfection; instead, aim for progress with each step you take. There’s no need to become a nervous wreck. 

You can train yourself to manage anxiety by strengthening your body and reinforcing your mind. Self-care makes you better equipped to alleviate and prevent those anxiety attacks. 

Tap into your inner security system. Encourage yourself to be confident that you are safe and in control instead of feeding the fear monster and feeling like you are spinning out of control. You can do it. You’ve got this.

Stop the vicious cycle by adopting a positive approach along with these life-changing habits  that can bring more joy and fun into your life. Don’t worry; be happy.

Antoinette Giacobbe M.A.