By: Shawnee Palmer
From childhood to adulthood--- at some point in your life you’ve experienced an anxious moment. It’s a part of the usual human emotions that we all feel however it affects different people in many different ways. How you handle it is based upon how you view the feeling of nervousness, how you’ve seen others handle it, ways in which you’ve mostly handled it, what you think about yourself when experiencing it and your ability to control it.
Have you ever felt nervous about doing a speech in front of a class? Mostly everyone has some nerve-wracking feeling before but many can feel calmer when the speech is over. Have you ever sat in class after a speech and started to worry more about how others viewed your speech and things that you could’ve done differently with the speech? Did it linger on to the point where you lost focus and wasn’t able to hear the other student's speeches?
This is just one example of how an anxious moment transitions into a full-blown episode of anxiety. One that becomes physically uncomfortable and hard to break free from once you’re in it. How do you manage this better? Have you tried taking deep breaths to calm you down and it didn’t work? Have you tried to distract yourself by doing an activity but you still find it hard to focus? Once you’ve reached this point, your brain has been invested in the situation. That’s why it’s important to implement skills to help you better handle it. Many people turn to unhealthy ways to manage anxiety rather it be cigarettes, food, alcohol, sex, or gossip. All these things provide you with an outlet of distraction however it does not help fix the underlying cause!
So what could the underlying cause look like? It could be fear of being rejected by others, fear that you will be harmed in some way or another person will be harmed, anger about lack of control over a situation, person or thing, fear of abandonment and the list could go on!
So why do we choose to focus on something that causes us great stress and fear? Sometimes it’s as simple as the fact that this is normal behavior for society. There isn’t a clear blueprint that’s given out to the masses of people that say “Hey, you’re going to be anxious about some things however you can handle it another way besides stressing about it.”
Overall, you want to find out what works best for you to tackle anxiety before it attacks you. What does this look like? It ranges from many different things such as how you respond to fears in general, your interactions with people, control over your life, or things that you do routinely to bring you peace.
Setting healthy boundaries for yourself is most important! Boundaries can give you an outlet to hold yourself accountable for the things that you do and how you respond. Boundaries teach you how to treat yourself and how others are to treat you.
Besides boundaries here are some other things that you can do:
-Pray or meditate to release the emotion and find comfort and peace.
-Listen to soothing music such as frequency sounds to calm you.
-Write about your experience through journaling, poetry, songwriting or storytelling.
-Talk to a trustworthy friend, family member, or colleague about what’s bothering you.
-Engage in physical activities such as walking, jogging or running for 15 minutes.
-Dance and sing to your favorite song as if you’re performing.
-Color or do a crossword puzzle.Watch your favorite comedy or tv show.
-Spend time near a body of water or an open area where you can connect with nature.
-Pick an activity that always brings you joy and do it!
Shawnee Palmer, LCSW, LAC Alpine's Empowerment Agency, LLC Shawnee@alpinesempowermentagency.com