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I’ve been feeling incredibly stressed this week.
It’s been a while since I felt anxious, but I noticed the restlessness, the inability to center—a general feeling of unease.
To be honest, I think it has to do with overwhelm and feeling a little burned out. It feels like I’m stressed about everything.
While I haven’t felt intense anxiety for several years (I personally believe due to the fact that I allow myself to feel and process my emotions in the moment that I’m feeling them), it does still come to me at times. It’s not as intense or all-consuming as it once was, and it doesn’t last as long, but I do still feel it from time to time.
And when this happens, I try to be present with my experience. Watch it. Feel it. Observe. Allow it. See if I can understand why it’s happening, the true causes that are reverberating beneath the surface.
What I’ve learned through the years is that anxiety is only a symptom of something deeper going on within us.
It’s an outer, more surface experience that can point us toward other things that are happening inside of us.
But it’s also true that in the moment of feeling anxiety, we may not always be able to understand the causes, the source. So, it’s helpful to just be present with ourselves.
To notice that we feel anxious and breathe through it.
And to hold space for ourselves through experience, along with a gentle intention to understand what’s really going on.
To truly begin to move through anxiety, we have to be present with ourselves—and all of our emotions. We have to allow ourselves to feel everything we’re feeling while we’re feeling it.
With that said, it’s helpful to understand how to mindfully ease anxiety when we’re experiencing it.
Three mindful steps to ease anxiety:
1. Become aware.
Notice when you’re starting to feel anxiety. Just notice it. Feel it. Watch it. Observe it. Where is it showing up in your body? How do you feel? How does your mind feel? What kinds of thoughts are moving through you?
Just notice when you start to feel anxious, and stay present with the experience. Allow what is happening to move through you. Allow yourself to feel the intensity of it, while breathing through it.
I feel anxious. I feel fear.
2. Accept and allow what’s happening to happen.
Resistance causes us so much tension, tension and suffering beyond the discomfort of what we’re already feeling. So, notice if you’re resisting the anxious feelings, the anxiety. Notice if you are judging yourself for it or stressing out about what the anxiety means. How will I do everything I have to get done? Now my whole day is ruined. And see if you can take a deep breath, soften, and just say that it’s okay.
It’s okay to not feel your best. It’s okay to feel anxious. It’s okay that the day isn’t going to go as planned. It’s okay if things take longer, and it’s okay if you can’t do them at all. Be gentle with yourself. Be present. And just allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling. See if you can come to the place where you can both feel anxious and also feel okay with that, to notice that you feel anxious but that you also feel okay.
It is temporary, it will change, but for now you feel anxious, and that’s okay.
3. Inquire into the source.
If you can feel somewhat present in your experience, ask yourself if you know what’s causing the anxiety. Is it something that’s happening in your life? Overwhelm? A limiting belief you have? Is a wound being triggered? Try saying “I feel fear” and see if anything shows up for you.
If you can’t pinpoint the source, it’s okay. Sometimes it feels like there is no reason for it. There is, of course, but we can’t force ourselves to see it or understand. Sometimes it just feels like a general feeling of anxiety. We just feel anxious. Just allow the experience. You’ll understand when it’s time.
Breathe, and allow yourself to be present in your experience.
Also, I think we resort too often to “coping” techniques for managing anxiety, without taking the time to truly sit and be present with ourselves and our experience. However, sometimes we do have to do something to soothe ourselves since we live lives where there are things that we have to get done.
I’ll share a few things that work for me.
Here are seven practical ways to ease anxiety:
1. Get out in nature. Sit. Stand. Breathe in fresh air. Watch and listen to and feel the world around you. Be present.
2. Walk, run, stretch, do yoga, or do some other form of exercise that feels good and right to you.
6. Rest or nap. Lie down. Set your alarm for even 15 or 20 minutes and just lie there.
7. Breathe. Slow, deep breaths, or pranayama.
More than anything, allow yourself to be present with yourself and with all of your emotions.
Allow yourself to feel them and learn from them.