Written by Nicole Owen - Tuesday, 31st March 2020
I have always been an anxious person but this past year, my anxiety has shot through the roof. I think my anxiety as of late is as a result of being under constant chronic stress for a prolonged period of time (More on chronic stress here). Life in the 21st century has become so stressful and overwhelming. Our minds are constantly thinking about something… what to wear, what to read next, what to cook for dinner, what ingredients to buy from the shop, what work email needs responding to, what holiday to book next, what house work needs to be done, what financial strategies need to be set and the list goes on. As a result of this constant thinking we are hardly ever able to ‘just be’. For me to ‘just be’ is to sit on the couch with a delicious mug of rooibos tea and listen to the birds chirp and think about absolutely nothing. How often do we have these moments? It is in these moments our minds are recharged. If we don’t have enough of these moments, we start getting brain fog which affects concentration.
The below methods have helped me to tackle my anxiety and depressive thoughts:-
Question 1: Is this anxiety or intense emotion even mine?
Many of our thoughts, beliefs and emotions aren’t truly ours. They have been adopted from others or projected onto us by others. We are like satellites, we can feel and pick up emotions from people all around us.
The news is a perfect example of how intense feelings or emotions aren’t our own. They have been projected on us by the media and because the media portrays a sense a panic it causes us to panic also.
Another example is feeling anxious for a loved one. Perhaps your spouse is having a tough time at work or your child is being bullied at school. My immediate response is to feel the anxiety that my loved ones are feeling. However, it is in these situations that we should not be anxious because the anxious thoughts are not ours. We should aim to be strong and supportive for our loved ones, encouraging them along the way.
One anxious person leads to another anxious person and before you know it you could have a whole household of anxious frazzled people. This is a recipe for disaster. It is so important to acknowledge whether the anxiety is ours or not.
Question 2: If the anxiety is ours, what would it take to shift the intense emotion?
These are some examples of things I find helpful when I am feeling anxious:-