When I used to suffer bouts of anxiety, I felt paralyzed. I couldn’t move, and my brain was in a fog. It would stop me dead in my tracks. I was so exhausted from the anxiety that all I wanted to do was sleep. I am happy to say that I have found simple ways to permanently reduce the anxiety that plagued me for years.
When I used to get anxious, I always found comfort with a practice I learned from the bodywork, Jin Shin Jyutsu. I would lie down and put one hand over my heart and another hand over my belly button. It would soothe me as I focused on my hands, feeling my chest and stomach move with each breath. I would stay in that position until I could feel my body release the stress and anxiety.
When I was exhausted, I would try to lie down, but sometimes I would shoot straight up because the anxiety was so overpowering. If this happened, I would take a slow, meditative walk. No pressure. No running or brisk walking. A slow stroll in a park where I could just focus on the rhythm of my feet taking one step after another. Even if I didn’t want to walk, I gently encouraged myself to keep moving. The longer I walked, the better I felt. I got most of my clarity when I walked alone, and I always felt better after.
I also learned how to pause, which is one of my favorite techniques. Right when the panic would set in, I would pause and ask myself, “Is this real? Do I really have to worry or be anxious right now?” and the answer was usually no. Once I learned this technique, I stopped trying to “fix” everything. I noticed that if I just observed a situation, it usually worked itself out and I didn’t have to do anything. If something was happening with a coworker or my son, if I could leave it alone for a couple of days, the problem faded away. It wasn’t such a big deal after all.
Other times I paused to ask myself, “Do I have control of this situation?” If I didn’t have control over it, I released it. I started to get very clear about what I could control. I decide what I eat, when I exercise, what I choose to say to people, and that’s where I keep my focus. This technique gave me the clarity to continue on with my daily life activities when normally I would be paralyzed by fear and worry, which literally stopped me from living a full life.
I’ve taught myself how to do these things. They aren’t easy, they take time, but learning to manage anxiety was a gift I gave myself. As you go through this process, be gentle with yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Georgette! Stop beating yourself up! Nice and easy. Slow down.” With practice, I am now able to slow down my breathing, how fast I walk, how fast I talk…I’ve brought a lot of gentle, loving care into my life, and I feel great!
These practices never replace medical supervision for anxiety. If you are under a doctor’s care, that is great. Always seek your doctor’s approval before trying something new.