There???s really nothing like anxiety when it comes to freezing you in fear and suspending all positive thoughts from your mind. Anxiety has this way of creeping up on us suddenly or being a constant companion we carry around ??? a metaphorical ???elephant on the chest??? from the moment we wake up in the morning. If you???re feeling anxious, it can be completely overwhelming. Anxiety affects us physically, emotionally, mentally, and energetically.
So how can you show your anxiety who???s really in charge?1. Look at it, and then let it out.
So often in my work with women, I run across well-worn sentiments and popular ideas like ???I shouldn???t be anxious???, ???I just have to focus on what???s good???, or ???they told me to just smile???. I believe that putting band-aids on our anxiety is not a permanent solution, and you have to ???take the lid off??? and look inside. What???s behind your anxiety? Where do you feel it? Do you notice it more at certain times of day? What is your anxiety trying to protect you from? Take a few minutes and let it out ??? journal, draw, sing, or take a hot shower and talk out loud to yourself. Try to just let it out without judgment, without fear.
2. Inhale and exhale with intentions.
Breathing is one of the most important, and sometimes one of the hardest things to do when you???re feeling anxious. It can be difficult to sit and meditate if your insides feel like they???re all tight and wiry and twisted up. I like to work with clients on intentional inhales and exhales - think about what you???d like to bring into your body and mind and what you???d like to release and let go of. As you inhale, say to yourself, or out loud, ???I inhale ______ ??? (fill in the blank with whatever you want to bring in) and as you exhale say to yourself ???I exhale ______??? (again, fill in the blank with whatever you want to let go of).
Hard pressed to find your own words? Some good things to inhale: peace, calm, ease, joy, happiness, lightness. Some good things to exhale: tension, stress, pressure, hate, tightness, anxiety
Anxiety can tie us up in knots, and creates a lot of nervous energy that often has no way to be released. Moving your body can release endorphins and improve your mood. A 30 minute jog is great, but so is a 5 minute walk around the block, 3 yoga poses in your desk chair, or putting on your favorite song and just dancing.
Think about a way you can move your body that would feel good to you. And start small. It???s better to do a little bit everyday than a lot once a week, or once a month.4. Make a daily ritual of stillness.
This will look different for each person. And again, starting small is completely fine. It may not be realistic to meditate for 30 minutes each morning, but perhaps you could sit still and listen to a favorite song (and not check your email or return texts while you do), smell lavender or other essential oils, or read a page of a book (I???m loving Tama Kieves???s A Year Without Fear). Commit to making this one small change every day, and see what shifts for you.
Anxiety is a powerful emotion, and one that gives us a lot of information about ourselves and our lives, if we can bear the uncomfortableness and take small steps towards change. I recently found this quote, which is I think speaks to the power of our own actions to shift our anxiety.
???Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.??? ~Walter Anderson
Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT is a music psychotherapist in private practice in New York City & Westchester. Her holistic, client-centered practice helps children, teenagers, and women live with more confidence, connection, and joy. Visit Maya's website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. You can also sign up to receive monthly self-care tips and blog posts here.