Notes on doing the thing:
Take what you need. Change what you want. Leave whatever doesn't serve you.
The type of anxiety I’m talking about here is run-of-the-mill anxiety that everyone experiences from time to time. I’m not talking about Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Settle in to the process...
Scan Your Body
Learn to identify anxiety before you start reacting. Pinpoint how anxiety shows up in your body. It’s a little different for each of us, but you might notice things like: clenched jaw, tension in the shoulders or neck, faster breathing, dry mouth, racing heart, clenched fists…
Most of us aren’t used to listening to our bodies. To get in touch with your body, try doing this 4-7 times a week:
Sit quietly with your body for 3-5 minutes (set a timer). Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Then scan your body, starting with your feet and toes. Send your focus to your feet and toes. Ask, “what are you feeling right now?”, and see what comes up. Listen, and then move on up to your calves and shins. Repeat this process until you’ve checked in with your whole body. Checking in regularly will help you gradually grow more attuned to physical signs of anxiety much more quickly when they come up.
The moment you notice physical signs of anxiety during an interaction is when you need to pause and do something to address the anxiety.
Use this tool regularly to decrease overall anxiety.
Use it in the moment to ground yourself and physically dispel some of the tension in your muscles that comes from a release of cortisol when our fight/flee/freeze mechanism gets triggered.
The key here is to let your breath lead your movement (similar to yoga). Focus on deep breaths in and out, and let your body move however it wants as you breath.
For the visual learners in the house:
Talk to yourself about the anxiety you’re feeling, and what’s going on for you – but do it in the third person. Approach it as if you were observing the feelings of a close friend. It might sound something like this:
“Sammie, you’re feeling so tense right now. He still hasn’t responded to that text you sent this morning, and you’re feeling afraid that he’s not interested after all, and that you’re about to get ghosted – again. You're feeling distracted and...”.
Talk yourself through what’s going on, and all of the feelings that are coming up for you, just keep your talk in the third person.
Place your right hand on your chest, over your heart. Place your left hand on your belly.
Close your eyes and take 20 slow, deep breaths, feeling your belly rise and fall with each breath.
Breathe in and out through your nose.
This one's all about giving yourself a break from anxiety-producing input.
Put on comfy clothes and make some herbal tea. Cue up a gentle instrumental playlist, plug into some headphones, and wrap up in a cozy blanket.
Play a slow-paced matching or puzzle game (if you don’t have any real-life puzzles, try an app like “I Love Hue”). Set a timer for 10 minutes, and just take a break from the situation to let your body come down from the anxiety.
Journal Questions for December...
Look back on the last month or two. List all of the times anxiety came up for you. What did those situations have in common?
When you feel anxious, how are you in the habit of speaking/acting with yourself? How are you in the habit of speaking/acting with your partner? With your friends/family? Just observe your actions and words here (no judgement).
What does anxiety feel like in your body?
When you feel anxious, do you want to reach out to others, or to hide? Why?
What often triggers your anxiety?