What to Do When You Feel Anxiety
Many of us can relate to the experience of taking a familiar route to work, school, the grocery, gym, etc., then realizing when we’ve arrived at our destination that we have no recollection of the drive. In many ways, coming to the realization that your anxiety has gotten out of hand — or that you may even be experiencing depression — can feel the same way.
Acknowledge Your Pain
You may find yourself wondering:
- “How did I get to this point?”
- “Why do I feel this way?” or
- “How do I snap out of this?”
Remember first of all that it is very natural and simply human to avoid painful emotions with distraction.
So even though you might feel like you’ve been functioning on “autopilot,” or that your life has spun out of control, it’s important to acknowledge that just asking yourself those questions mean that something has brought you out of your trance.
After all, you can’t change what you are not aware of, so consider this moment an invitation to become more self-aware.
Symptoms of Anxiety
There are mountains of thoughts and oceans of emotions within us constantly shaping our view of the world. To navigate it with purpose requires that we pay close attention to the landscape. All too often in a state of depression and anxiety, we fail to recognize the signs and signals our bodies are giving us.
Some of these symptoms are low energy, muscle tension, headaches, or a stomach full of “butterflies.” Many people experience these and more. Often, they are your body’s way of sending the message that something within requires closer attention.
Quick Body Check to Detect Anxiety
Finding opportunities throughout your day to do a quick check in with yourself helps nurture the mind-body connection.
To do a body scan:
- simply pause,
- take a deep breath (or two),
- focus your attention for a few seconds on the parts of your body, one at a time, from head to toe.
Notice any different sensations, tension, feelings, or thoughts that come up as you do so.
Reminders to Practice Self-Awareness
Here are some ideas to help you get in the habit of checking in with your body:
- Pair your check-in with something that you commonly do throughout the day. For example, before you check your email, write a text message, sit down at your desk or the kitchen table, fasten your seat belt, or tie your shoes, etc.
- Teach your kids how to do a short body scan meditation to wind down before bedtime and join them.
- Leave yourself reminder notes on the fridge, your mirror, in the car, etc. that say things like, “do a check-in,” “take a deep breath,” or “what are you feeling right now?”
- Designate a picture or piece of art somewhere in your house or office to be your cue to do your check-in every time you walk by it.
- If someone asks you how your day was, do a quick check-in before you answer them.
- If your significant other seems stressed or emotional, encourage them to check-in with you.
- When you feel a strong emotion coming on, check-in with your body.
- Before you finish reading this, visualize yourself creating this new habit.
Moving Forward When You Have AnxietyAs you commit to building a deeper awareness of how you experience feelings in your body, you may also find that you’re starting to tune in to more complicated emotions.
Talking about them with a qualified therapist may help you make sense of what brought you to this point in life and how you want to move forward.