Don't Do This if You Have Anxiety
While it's natural to desire relief from anxiety, attempting to eradicate it entirely can lead to counterproductive outcomes. The pressure to eliminate anxiety can ironically intensify the emotional distress associated with it. In this blog post, we explore the biggest mistake that people make when they're feeling anxious and offer valuable strategies to manage effectively.
The Surprising Misstep with Anxiety:
The most significant misstep individuals tend to make when faced with anxiety is attempting to eradicate the feeling altogether. This counterintuitive approach can yield counterproductive outcomes, as our attempts to evade anxiety may inadvertently intensify it. To grasp this concept, we must understand the nature of anxiety and how our brain responds to it.
Understanding Anxiety's Origins:
Anxiety stems from a sense of fear triggered by our brain's interpretation of external stimuli. Our brain, sensing danger, activates the amygdala and sympathetic nervous system, resulting in heightened vigilance and physical responses. While it's natural to want to avoid or eliminate this discomfort, doing so sends a signal to the brain that anxiety is perilous, leading to a surge in adrenaline and cortisol.
The Paradoxical Solution: Embrace Anxiety:
The solution to this conundrum lies in embracing anxiety instead of resisting it. This may seem counterintuitive, but by accepting anxiety as a normal human experience, we create a paradoxical effect: anxiety diminishes naturally. Attempting to escape anxiety fuels a vicious cycle, while embracing it initiates a process of relaxation and calm.
An Essential Paradoxical Treatment:
This approach, known as a paradoxical treatment, involves a three-step process: identifying, allowing, and mindfully connecting with the moment. Under the acronym "I AM," this technique aids in transforming your relationship with anxiety.
I: Identify: Recognize anxious thoughts or feelings without taking them as facts. Identifying separates these experiences from your true self.A: Allow: Embrace anxiety with an attitude of acceptance and openness. Acknowledge that uncertainty is a part of life.M: Mindfully Connect: Shift your awareness to the present moment. Engage your senses to anchor yourself in the now.
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The Role of Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:
While paradoxical treatment forms the core, complementary practices such as square breathing and meditation can help lower hyper-vigilance and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. However, engaging in these practices without forcing them is crucial to avoid exacerbating anxiety.
The Transformative Power of Acceptance:
By reframing your approach to anxiety and incorporating the paradoxical treatment method, you're fostering an environment where anxiety loses its grip. This approach aligns with the wisdom of Claire Weekes, a pioneering therapist, who advocated for allowing time to pass and floating through anxiety without resistance.
The Path to Calm and Liberation:
In essence, the journey to overcoming anxiety involves embracing it rather than resisting or evading it. This shift in perspective enables you to break free from the cycle of heightened anxiety and gradually experience a sense of calm and relief.
Remember, your journey toward enhanced mental well-being is uniquely yours. By adopting this stance on anxiety and incorporating the "I AM" technique, you're taking proactive strides toward a life instilled with greater fulfillment, the goal isn't to eliminate anxiety but to navigate it with resilience and self-compassion.
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