Most anxiety occurs while we are experiencing or when we anticipate an unpleasant, undesirable, or fearful event. However, some people get anxiety without knowing why. Although identifying the cause of anxiety is helpful in managing it, methods to reduce anxiety will still work. As mentioned in Dealing with Anxiety (Part 1), steps to address anxiety are recognize, acknowledge, feel, and clear.
Generally speaking, unless someone is highly distracted, unaware of their emotions, or in denial, recognizing anxiety is easy. Symptoms include nervousness, uneasiness, restlessness, dread, and excessive worry.
When you are experiencing anxiety, take a moment to identify the cause. Although it may be something happening at that moment, it may also be caused by something you are thinking about. It might also be triggered by a person, place, thing, or event that reminds you of an unpleasant, anxiety-causing experience. Recognizing the cause and learning coping methods for anxiety help to reduce its effects when it recurs.
People who have gone through severe trauma will be more easily triggered. Deeply distressing events that result in PTSD may stick with a person throughout his or her life. Tools to cope with and more quickly release the resulting anxiety can be provided by professionals specializing in these types of traumas.
Acknowledging anxiety means you recognize the symptoms and are willing to look at the underlying cause. Just the act of acknowledging emotion often reduces its power. By acknowledging anxiety, you are taking control, not the other way around. Acknowledging anxiety does not mean you are willing to invite it in, but you recognize and want to deal with it.
People who have experienced severe stress often develop numbness to feeling as a coping mechanism. They may not be able to acknowledge the full extent of their anxiety. Or perhaps they will have to allow only a small part of the emotion to be felt. Outside, professional help may be required.
By feeling anxiety, you can identify how it manifests in your body. Anxiety can manifest as sweating, increased heart rate, tightness in the chest or stomach, shakiness, hyperventilation, panic attacks, lack of concentration, weakness, tiredness, dizziness, or even compulsive behaviors. By feeling the anxiety and identifying how you experience it, you can address and clear it. Note where in your body you feel tension, pain, weakness, or shakiness. The location of the symptoms in the body can give clues to the source of the anxiety (see the emotional centers chart in Dealing with Anxiety, Part 1). For example, someone who worries constantly about money will likely feel symptoms in their lower back, stomach, bladder, kidneys, or sex organs.
Those with PTSD and other intense emotional issues may not (and probably should not) feel all resulting emotion or anxiety at one time. Allowing yourself to feel small bits of emotion at a time is often all that can be tolerated. The emotions have been bottled up, like the pressure that exists in an unopened champagne bottle. Letting the cork out slowly prevents it from explosively leaving the bottle. Letting all the emotion flow out at once is like shaking the bottle and then popping the cork.
Clearing anxiety from the body keeps it in good health. Reducing anxiety also improves your mood. Left unchecked, emotion can result in chronic physical issues. If you are unable to eliminate or at least reduce anxiety with the methods presented in this series or other methods you’ve been exposed to, you should consider getting outside help, such as therapy or, especially in health-threatening cases, medical help or prescribed medications.
Bringing your focus to the current moment (versus past or future moments) is very effective in reducing and eliminating anxiety. Methods include focus inside your body, ask questions, describe your environment, perform a chakra check, meditation, and exercise, which I will address in the next post(s) in this series, Dealing with Anxiety. Once the source of anxiety and the emotional center in your body are identified, clearing the emotion can be done using the Bubble Meditation or Waterfall Meditation.