Anxious? Release energy from the body...
Do you ever try to explore your anxious mind and end up feeling confused or more anxious?
Trying to help our anxious mind solve a problem when we're in the throws of anxiety is like trying to repair a car as it's driving down the road.
It's physics really... increased motion leads to more motion. Trying to handle anxiety with an anxious mind, leads to increased anxiety.
The anxious mind forces the body to amplify anxiety with increased physiological functioning (increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sensory awareness, etc), worry, and repetitive thoughts.
Basically, even though it's uncomfortable, our whole system is working just as it should...
- The mind has a thought that creates a feeling
- The body responds to our mind and its feelings with physiological reactions
- The physiological body reactions prepare us for fight, flight, freeze, or fawn stress responses
Bottom line, our bodies respond to the perceived (or real) threat that our mind presents.
Now going back to anxiety...
The problem is, we cannot meet our anxious mind in a manner that will be loving and helpful until we release some of the anxious energy from our body.
When we are anxious our body is rapidly producing and releasing adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones in an effort to provide us with all that we need to enter into fight or flight mode for our protection. After all, "there really could be a tiger at the door", says the mind.
Thus our body is supporting (with all of the physiological reactions) what our mind is thinking:
- I'm anxious
- I can't do this
- Something or someone is after me
- Something is seriously wrong with me
- I'm going to die
As you begin to notice yourself going into an anxious moment imagine that energy within asking for your help to safely release.
For example, you have a tense moment with a friend about where to go for dinner. You can feel your body start to change in response to the agitation in your mind. Your heart rate increases, you can feel your cheeks begin to flush, your palms get sweaty, and your words get tied up inside or stuck. At this point you may have a "typical" way you respond... maybe getting angry and cancelling the whole night or shutting down and ignoring your feelings to do whatever your friend wants.
The next time a situation like this happens try these simple mindful body solutions to help you release some of the excess energy within so that you can help your anxious mind.
- Take a deep breath through your nose, exhale audibly through your mouth
- Stand up
- March in place
- Go for a walk or a run
- Take a cold shower
- Eat a healthy snack
- Scribble / Doodle / Draw
Start to feel the energy release from your body with each action. We're not looking to "fix" or even "understand" what you are anxious about right now, merely allow yourself to release the pent up anxious energy from your body.
As you notice your energy shift, ask yourself:
- What does my body need now?
- What is the kindest thing I can do for myself in this moment?
All the while reminding yourself that you don't need to find a solution for whatever was making you anxious in the first place.
It really is okay to simply take care of yourself, your mind, your emotions, and your body. There will be time to process "what happened" soon enough.
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