The good news for those of us who are wired to be more anxiety sensitive, is that calm is an inside job. Meaning we can cultivate an emotionally healthy mindset through intentional acts of calm daily. The bad news? We have to work harder at mindfulness, meditation, deep-breathing, and reframing unhealthy thoughts.
Have no fear, anxious warriors, the anxiety basics listed below this video can help you get on the right side of calm and mentally well. In the meantime, check out me and my breathing rock having a little fun while recording video #2 of the “Calming Your Anxious Mind” module at Team Happy.
Calming Your Anxious Mind (*video #2 preview)
*To see the rest of the video, join Team Happy for the “Calming Your Anxious Mind” module, and you can also watch the introduction video for the anxiety basics, including:
Anxiety has three main causes:
- Genetics — you may have inherited a more active central nervous system, your brain might be circuited to be over-reactive, or extra sensitive to stimuli
- Child-rearing, how did parents model dealing with life’s challenges? How where feelings expressed? How were problems solved? How calm, or not, was their disposition?
- Life experiences — stressors like the death of a loved one, difficulties with coming into adulthood, starting college, job stress, illness, hospitalization, divorce, etc., increase the likelihood of an anxious mindset
Anxiety triggers the “fight-flight-freeze” response
This physiological response helps you cope with danger (real or perceived).
- For example, you yell at your spouse for pushing you to leave your young child at a daycare center when you don’t feel ready (fight)
- You avoid going to a party or leave early because you feel uncomfortable around people you don’t know (flight)
- Your mind goes blank when your boss asks you a question at a staff meeting (freeze)
Anxiety is NOT fear-based (though it sure can feel like it).
Actual fear is focused on something right in front of you — a real and objective danger. Anxiety is instead a kind of fear gone wild, a generalized sense of dread about something out there that seems menacing — but in truth is not menacing, and may not even exist. You find it difficult to talk yourself out of this foreboding and become trapped in an endless loop of what-ifs.
Anxiety myth: “I can’t control my feelings. My feelings just are.”
This common misconception has a lot of people feeling out of control, and engaging in a whole lot of self-loathing. The beauty of anxiety is you can control your feelings. Your feelings originate from your thoughts. Change your thoughts, change your life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you do just that.
Anxiety is greatly helped when tackled on three fronts every day:
- Lifestyle — sleep, water, exercise, diet
- Brain — rewire to stay in mindfulness awareness (rather than live in the past, or fear the future)
- Behavior — knowledge of CBT tenet: Thoughts —> Feelings —> Actions
I hope this helps you realize that anxiety is highly treatable. For information on joining Team Happy and ALL the anxiety goodies featured in April’s module, “Calming Your Anxious Mind,” click here.