Text by Andrea Thompson Via Marie Claire UK
Do you regularly wake up at 4am worrying about how you’ll ever get on the housing ladder? Or feel overwhelmed by work deadlines? Do you get a sinking dread after browsing Instagram, or a sense of panic that you’re not doing enough with your life compared to everyone else? According to meditation expert Jody Shield (who runs downloadable podcasts on dealing with anxiety) the demands of living in a highly stressful digital world are creating a global anxiety epidemic routed in fear.
The level of our anxiety depends on numerous things from what’s happened in our personal history, and that of our parents to the pressing deadlines and decision we are faced with in daily life,” she says. “Often we’re anxious, with no idea why we feel this way – as if anxiety’s our default setting. To many it’s crippling, and omnipresent; an ongoing sense of apprehension, a dull noise inside the mind, nausea, panic, dread about life and what’s ahead and it affects everything you interact with.”
But behind anxiety, deep down in our subconscious mind, lies fear.
“Fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear that can’t be rationalise or understood. Fear and anxiety gain more power over us when they’re hidden and unspoken, which is often where they stay. Once in a state of anxiety, the mind locks on to worrying thoughts, and it’s very hard to break free and release it. Healing yourself takes courage, persistence and dedication.”
Here she reveals how its done.
First, you have to be open to the possibility that you can. Interestingly this is half the battle because your mind will be convinced that it isn’t possible, based on the evidence of past experiences of your anxiety episodes.
Secondly, you have to create a daily practice to become a new habit, which changes your mindset and emotional state from the moment you wake up with your anxious thoughts.
Thirdly, always be aware of your resistance to change. Believe it or not, there’s a part of you who doesn’t want to change, who doesn’t want to heal your anxiety. When we change we move into unknown territory, and as the mind’s primary focus is to keep us safe and protected, anything unknown can’t be assessed as being a threat or not. Resistance is the opposing force to transformation, and is the one thing which keeps us stuck, or in sabotage.
Check out Jody’s simple tools and techniques to form your daily anxiety prevention practice:
1. Breathe into it
Anxiety creates nervous energy which gets stuck in your body and mind. Breathing moves it around the body, and gets it unstuck. Try framing your anxiety as excitement without breath, imagine the anxiety like anticipation towards new things. Give it breath, and breathe deeply into it. Nothing shifts unless something moves, don’t let it keep you frozen and powerless, get it moving!
2. Clear your mind
Buy a notebook for your new positive practice. Use it every morning, and write down everything on your mind. Get everything out onto the page, no matter how crazy you sound. Remember it’s nervous energy, and you can give it word form and release it. Once you’ve written it down, close your eyes and breathe in a couple of times. You don’t need to re-read it unless you want to, it’s now past.
3. Let go
Amazing things happen when you LET THEM GO. Try saying to yourself on repeat: I let go, I surrender, I let go, I surrender, and witness what happens. It’s a practice (like everything in this toolbox) and so needs to be repeated over-and-over until it goes in. To go a step further, lie down and close your eyes, and say the phrases over and over again until you feel your whole body letting go.
4. Tap for anxiety relief
Take your hand into a fist, left or right. Begin to tap your fist onto your collarbone, and breathe in at the same time. This technique addresses the resistance around your breathe caused by anxiety, and allows your airways to open so that oxygen can get into your body faster.
5. Say ‘I’m back’ as your mantra
Saying this as a mantra (and repeating it) is a positive move into the present. The words bring you right into the present moment, a place we spend most of our time avoiding! Being present enables your thoughts to be observed more easily, and subside which allows us to recover from our anxiety.
6. Wind down
After your day, take time to move into a state of relaxation. Run a warm bath, light some candles around you, get in and soak. Use the phrase suggested earlier “I surrender” on repeat to ease you into a full body relaxation. If you don’t have a bath (or if you live in a drought stricken area), how else can you relax? A hot shower with your favourite wash? A hot water bottle on your tummy lying on your bed? Adapt to suit your situation.
From Marie Claire UK