Updated: Mar 28, 2021
We are all born with the ability to feel anxiety. Anxiety is protective and can keep us safe from danger. The problem is our minds can become overreactive and prevent us from living our life from intuition. How many times did you have a knowing inside you that you couldn’t put words to, but you knew what the next best step was? The moment you got the answer, your mind started to spin and spin and spin. You were off to the races, thinking about everything that could go wrong and ways to prevent it. What I find to be true about intuition is that the answer that comes to us may be against what our logical mind wants us to do.
For example, every Sunday, you get a pit in your stomach when you think about going back to work or knowing in your gut something is off about your relationship. A part of you knows inside you need to leave, but your mind talks you out of it. You think I may never find another job that pays this well, or this relationship isn’t that bad. You talk yourself out of your intuitive sense.
My guess would be due to the fear that you are experiencing, you think that if you take the step you need to take, it may not work out. That may be true. In my own life, my experience has proved time and time again; every time I listened to my intuition, I only moved to a better option; things got better, not worse. When I ignored my intuition, things got worse, not better. I think we would all like to believe this is the opposite.
What can you do about anxiety? First, know anxiety is an alarm system that is supposed to go off in our bodies when facing real danger. For example, if there is a fire in your home, your mind will focus on one thing (getting away from the fire), you will get a burst of energy in case you need to run a long-distance or move quickly, your visual senses become sharper, and your digestion system shuts down. These are just a few things that happen to you in an anxiety-producing moment. In real danger (I mean life and death danger), these internal cues save us.
When it is a false alarm or a scenario that will not kill us, this internal system can prevent us from taking action. For example, you feel anxious, and your mind stays stuck on the problem- this is supposed to happen, you have a stomachache, this is supposed to happen, you feel jittery inside. Again these are all things that are supposed to happen in life and death danger; they save us. When you are not in immediate danger, you feel sick and unsure and will often worry. This response prevents us from acting on our intuition or even living our life.
What can you do if anxiety has taken over? Great question
First, know it is not helpful to tell yourself not to worry. If it were that easy, you wouldn’t worry. You have to do something else, and you have to try a strategy. What I share with clients of mine is this example: do you remember what it was like learning to read or teaching a kid to read? You did not just pick up Harry Potter as your first book and read it. You learned to sound out letters; you read a word, then a sentence, and finally paragraphs. It was a slow and probably painful process, or at least it was painful for the person listening to you put together words- it was SO slow! Now that you can read, it is so quick. It is the same with anxiety strategies; you do not just try them once and think, whew, I feel so much better now. No one would say that. What reduces anxiety is recognizing you have activated a false alarm; you are likely to live until tomorrow and practice a strategy. To keep repeatedly practicing until you become the boss of your anxiety instead of anxiety being the boss of you.
I think of letting go of anxiety as retraining your brain. One of my favorite retraining brain techniques is to use an app like calm. I love it because you don’t have to sit in silence and try to make yourself stop thinking. You find a meditation on the app, every time your mind loses focus due to worry; you just put your focus back on the app. You can even try this with your loved ones; your mind is wandering while conversing with them; just refocus on the words they are saying. Truly have your focus with them, the mind wanders, bring it back- what were they saying?
Here are some other tips:
Imagine a front door and a back door. Let the anxious thoughts go through the front door and out the back door without giving them a couch to sit on.
Write out Best Case, Worst Case, Most Likely Outcome
Exercise (do you know it takes 72 hours for your body to process the adrenaline from an anxious moment unless you exercise)
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Put on a sleep story and refocus your mind on the sleep story.
Are you worrying about something you can start? Start it (this helps, I promise).
Ask yourself, will this matter five days from now?
Do you hear yourself saying “what if”- you are in anxiety
Would you like more tools for yourself or your kids? This website is AMAZING! https://www.anxietycanada.com