The vast majority of anxiety we all experience is useful and forms part of our biological alert system, it only becomes an issue that requires expert attention when it becomes disordered, and occurs inappropriately.
Most of us do not have disordered inappropriate anxiety, the anxiety we experience is perfectly appropriate. Now depending on your particular view of the world you might be more or less anxious than those around you.
I am one of those people that feel anxious more than others, my anxiety however is always related to an event. What I have noticed is that some of the events that cause my anxiety are out of my control, where as there are others that I can influence. I have also noticed that all of my anxiety is based on my emotional response to previous events.
So anxiety is induced by my mind projecting memories onto my imagined future and the emotions these memories provoke. I also know that some of these events I can control and some of them I cannot.
If I am not careful I can get caught up in my anxieties and allow them to take over my life, without addressing them, without responding appropriately to the warning system that it is. It is like sitting there listening to a fire alarm and wondering if you are losing your mind. It often feels easier to bury those anxieties and just carry on with my life, but all it does is just kick anxiety down the road, and can often make that anxiety worse in the future. So I have started practicing facing those anxieties and attending to the event that sits behind them. To face these anxieties I have taken a few techniques from Brene Brown, Daniel Kahneman and Paul McGee, to explore my emotions sort through my actions and ultimately slow my thinking down.
Understand the emotion that is causing the anxiety
When considering the event that is causing my anxiety, I will ask myself what point in my history am I referencing to create this emotion. In other words what from my experience is driving this emotion. It is always important at this point to test the accuracy of this memory, for instance is it my memory or a cultural reference point. Then is my emotional response in the light of this reasonable. Or put another way is this event worth being anxious about.
This helps me initially slow my thinking down and have a more objective view of my anxiety rather than just having an immediate emotional response.
Can I influence this event or not
Now I have established that what is causing my anxiety is worth my attention, it is important to establish if I can do anything to actually change the event or do I just have to change my response to the event. A lot of normally anxiety that we all experience is related to deadlines that are due. For instance this week I have had an assignment due, as the deadline drew closer my anxiety grew. I simply dealt with this anxiety by completing the assignment, and actually my anxiety helped motivate my action. Now there are other anxieties, and especially now that are beyond our control. Now just because we cannot influence these events we can adjust our response to them, and concentrate on taking control of all the aspects in our life we can influence. So at the moment, the news of the impending second wave is causing me anxiety, as is the behaviour of people I see on the news. All I can do is control how I behave, and act. I also concentrate on doing activities that satisfy me, and make me happy. I love writing this blog, I love coaching people, and I love my new passion of podcasting. I find these restorative, and they are something I can control.
In summary anxiety is an appropriate alarm system, so slow you thinking down and pay attention to the causes of you anxiety, act on what you can act on, and start to adjust your response to what you cannot control, by concentrating on what you can control.
If you want support managing the worries you experience, please feel free to message me.