“Anxiety is your body’s way of trying to get your attention. It’s an invitation from your unconscious, alerting you to something in your emotional life that needs to be heard.” -Dr. Leslie Carr
Anxiety can be paralyzing. It can hook both the mind and body at the same time, leaving you experiencing feelings of being out of control and scared. It makes sense then, that a frequent response to this experience is to find a way to reject its presence, immediately and indefinitely. Countless people attend therapy with the singular quest of conquering their anxiety. It is a terrifying thing to feel out of control, and anxiety perfectly taps into this fear. However, the rush to remove anxiety can often mean we brush over the deeper layers which cause anxiety in the first place. Coping mechanisms to ease a panic attack, for example, are critical, but to ensure anxiety doesn’t rule our heads and hearts we must take a deep breath – literally – and dig deeper. It’s not just about treating the symptom, but treating the root cause.
Imagine what it would be like to invite your anxiety to tea. So often, anxiety feels too close to our physical being to be separated, but just for a moment, envision having a conversation over a cup of warm tea. When you ask your anxiety what is it trying to tell you, what does it begin to say? Inquiring into anxiety as if it has something important to offer flips it on its head: typically an experience people fear can become a tool to inform. Take just a moment to reflect on what message your anxiety is trying to deliver.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, sometimes the process of listening to anxiety means welcoming it as a teacher. Only when we heed the messenger can we achieve deeper healing. Of course, this looks different for everyone, but there are several tried and true ways to lean into this process of listening. Ultimately, anxiety is trying to catch our attention, simply to say: listen.
Welcome anxiety with open arms.
Reframing how we view anxiety before it occurs can change our experience of it as a whole. For many people, simply the idea of anxiety sparks specific and negative connotations and more anticipatory fear. In order to shift this thinking, it’s important to plant the seed that anxiety nothing more than a way to draw our attention where it needs to be. Practice this mantra when reflecting on or experiencing anxiety: I’m here and I’m listening. Everything will be ok. I welcome this moment of learning.
Focus on the breath.
Grounded in somatic therapy techniques, connecting the body and the mind can be as simple as breathing. Settle into a comfortable position with a straight back, resting your arms and hands on your thighs. Let the breath fall into its natural pattern, and slowly reflect on where anxiety manifests in your body. Breath into that specific part of your body and let your mental focus rest there. Open yourself up to the process of listening.
Do you find yourself struggling with anxiety? At the Strength in Motion wellness community, we believe in a mind, body, and soul approach towards finding and sustaining balance. We feel honored to be on your path in some way and are here to support you in living to your greatest potential. Click here to find out more information about who we are and how we may be a support to you.