Anxiety can make you feel physically awful.
We often feel a tightening in our chest, or maybe our hands get sweaty? Some people feel their stomachs start to rumble or toss and turn. Other times anxiety can squeeze our shoulders or feel like something is banging on our brains, and it feels like our head might explode.
It’s easy to start to focus on these physical symptoms and think there is something seriously wrong. It is incredible how powerful our minds are and how much influence our emotions have on our physical bodies. Tension, stress, and anxiety may feel like it will kill us.
What can I do?
#1 Accept your anxiety
Anxiety is a normal emotion. It won’t kill you, even if it feels like it will. Everyone feels anxious from time to time.
Accept your anxiety and give yourself permission to feel it. We spend so much time trying to push anxiety down, ignore it, or deny it exists. The more we do that, the stronger our anxiety becomes. Instead of trying to manage your anxiety, acknowledge it and allow it to exist. It is ok to be anxious. Sometimes just accepting it will loosen its grip and lessen its power.
#2 Notice how it feels in your body
The act of noticing is different than concentrating. When we concentrate, we put all of our energy into one thing. Concentrating on our physical symptoms becomes the center of our thoughts, hindering us from living a full life. When we simply notice our physical symptoms, we acknowledge them and move on. Recognizing the physical symptoms our anxiety has caused allows us to connect our mind and body and be curious about what we are feeling.
Close your eyes, breathe and be aware of where you feel your anxiety in your body. Then choose to acknowledge other sensations.
#3 Recognize the world around you
What else is happening around you? Slow down a moment and breathe again. Reach your hands over your head, roll your shoulders, and wiggle your toes. Ask yourself, “What can I see? What can I hear? What can I feel?”
Accepting your anxiety, noticing your physical symptoms, and then recognizing the world around you can lessen your anxiety’s power and intensity. You don’t have to deny it, manage it, or try to push it away. Instead, permit yourself to feel what you are feeling. You will be ok.
Written By: Christine B., Masters Level Intern
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