10 Steps to Taming Your AnxietyGord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak RSS July 1, 2011
With so many events occurring around us, many people are living in a state of fear and anxiety. Key words here are “living in fear.” We want to learn to live with fear – a normal human emotion – but not be consumed by it. Worrying, the telltale sign of fear, gives us the false sense of being in control of everything around us, that if we were to stop worrying, the world would come crashing down. Worrying allows us to map out battle plans, to prepare for any eventuality, but in that process our anxiety levels are rising right along with heart rate and blood pressure; our bodies are on full alert and flooded with adrenaline, an important hormone in a life-and-death, fight or flight situation.
The problem is that our bodies do not know the difference between imagination and reality. Once the adrenaline begins to flow and all systems go on high alert, we lose objectivity about whether we really need to be in such a state of crisis. Once in this heightened state, we are in full survival mode and the possibility of finding creative solutions to our problems or perceived outcomes is severely hampered. Creativity does not flourish in such a chaotic environment.
The interesting thing about worry is that very few of the nightmare outcomes actually ever happen. It doesn’t matter how many times they don’t come to fruition, we keep the same worry pattern in place. We are now in a reactive mental mode, not a proactive mode in which creative planning is much more easily accomplished.
PRACTICAL WAYS TO WIPE OUT YOUR WORRY
All worry is fear-based. Worry is an attempt to somehow prepare us for the worst possible outcome, to let us know that no matter what, we can handle it. This in itself is not a bad thing. Knowing what our skills are, and knowing that we have the ability to handle anything that comes our way, is important. It allows us to be confident in ourselves. The problem with anxiety, though, is that it can take on a life of its own and spin us into a cycle of catastrophizing. We get stuck in worst-case scenarios that are the scariest and usually the least likely to occur.
The biggest culprit feeding all of this fear and worry is almost invariably the mass media. The nightly news feeds us all the horrors and dangers of the world and of our own locales. We find out the latest food or product that will give us cancer, and we get safety tips on where to walk and which locks and alarms we need on our homes. A recent statistic in the U.S. shows that the murder rate has fallen by 20%, yet the reporting of murders by the media has risen by over 600%! All of this hype is taking its toll on our bodies and minds. Take what you need and then move on.
Our 10 Tips To Reduce Worry
1) If possible, turn off the TV nightly news and read fewer newspapers. Do you really need to subject yourself to this much negative information?
2) Become aware of when you are feeling anxious and find something to do to distract yourself from the worrying. Do anything from exercising, to meditating, to washing the dishes. Don’t allow yourself to sit there and feel immobilized or overwhelmed.
3) Anxiety is always about the future, about something that has not and may not happen. Try to stay in the moment, the now.
4) Worry can make us feel disempowered and victimized. Ways to feel empowered and strong again are to stay in the moment and stay away from feeling sorry for yourself.
5) If you do have a problem, write about, talk about it, meditate on it, and activate your own creativity. Creative solutions are best found when we are not in a crisis – internal crisis only allows us to use historical problem solving; in other words, how you handled it in the past. This type of problem solving doesn’t allow us to do new things or learn more about our selves.
6) If you do have a problem, paint yourself the worst-case scenario and ask yourself – if this were to happen, would you be able to handle it and survive it? Invariably, the answer is “yes.” Humans are brilliantly adaptable. Now let the scenario go and stop feeding it energy.
7) Creative solutions may take longer to arrive at compared to historical solutions, which are usually knee-jerk reactions. Give your creativity time to work – after you have taken in all the necessary data to make an informed choice, the solution will appear.
8) Trust the universe and yourself. All things happen for a reason and nothing happens that is not supposed to happen. Also, nothing happens that we do not have the ability to get through, handle, and learn from. Yes, this is a leap of faith.
9) Recognize that control of people, places, and things is the grand illusion. You only have control of yourself: nothing more and nothing less. Problems will occur, people will leave or die, unexpected financial obligations will occur, health issues will surface. You can only deal with yourself and you are not able to control outcomes of other people’s problems.
10) No matter how much you plan, scheme, worry, and attempt to control things, big surprises will occur. They are designed to alter our thinking and our most rigid defences.
There is a big difference between planning for the future and worrying about it. Planning and goal setting are proactive and allow us to be vital players in our own lives. Worry, on the other hand, can make us feel powerless and scared. It can be a lot of work to change this mode of thinking, but that is all it is – thinking. Thoughts come and go all day long that we don’t act on, and we just ignore them. We need to learn to use the same technique when we realize that we are scaring ourselves into states of anxiety and even immobility.
Live for today, plan for your future, and don’t let worry stop you from enjoying both.
Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, and Coaching. For more information or for a course calendar, call 416-484-0454 or 1-800-TAC-SELF, or visit www.transformationalarts.com. To receive their monthly e-newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org