By: Laura Deneen, LPC-MHSP, CEDS, NCC
Anxiety-it’s kind of a buzz word right now. You've probably heard about a friend or colleague who has it, read an article on it, or maybe you even experience it yourself. If you or a loved one has anxiety, learning to manage, regulate, and sit with your anxiety is so important because of how it impacts quality of life.
Shifting our relationship to our anxiety can positively impact how we interact with others or our own selves (our relationship to our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors we choose). Here are three things that have supported me in regulating my anxiety:
1) Naming it! When I can name what is making me anxious, and why that thing is making me anxious, this can take some of that “punch in the gut” feeling down. Part of naming it for me is also labeling where I feel it in my body and noticing my physical sensations. (without judgment!!) Maybe I feel tightness in my chest, tingling in my fingers, or heat in my face. Naming the anxiety along with the physically sensations helps me start the process of self-compassion and perhaps deeper understanding into my anxiety.
2) Challenging myself to sit with the uncertainty. What do I mean by this? As a human being, I want to know all the answers all the time. This is a natural reaction because we are not wired to enjoy things that are out of our control. For example, I can’t control someone’s emotions towards me. It may feel really bad to me not knowing whether a friend or colleague is upset with me. My responsibility is to sit with that possibility and act on it in healthy ways, versus anxiety-driven behaviors. This is just one example of many things that are outside of my control in this life; and, recognizing this has actually been super liberating for me. Oftentimes sitting with uncertainty is painful and hard, but also worth it in terms of our response to stimuli that are anxiety-provoking.
3) Asking myself what I need when I’m anxious? Do I need to talk it through with a loved one or safe person? Do I need to eat a nourishing meal or snack? Do I need to take a few deep breaths? Do I need to journal? Do I need clarity around a situation or conversation? The list could go on and on. We have lots of needs that may be going unaddressed in situations of heightened anxiety. Figuring out what we need is a skill and practice that takes time.
I hope this blog on regulating anxiety has been helpful to you! When in doubt, seek professional support if you are questioning whether you may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety. I am here rooting for you!
Take good care,
The clinicians of Anchored Counseling Co. are authors of the blog, which includes content on eating disorders and co-occurring issues.