The Experience of Anxiety – and Four Easy Hacks to Change it

Our bodies are designed to handle stress. In fact, it is our stress response that allows us to know when something is not right. 
Our bodies are designed to deal with short term stress. Our bodies are not designed to deal with long term stress.  Often, the types of stresses we experience today feel as if they have no end.  Anxiety is often the result of long-term response to short-term stresses.
Often, that anxiety is a signal that something in our environment needs our attention.  In practice, I've found that most people who struggle with anxiety are often high achievers or have the ability to be high  achievers. This is because back in the cave man days it paid to be in tune with one's environment– and that still applies today.  Often, people who struggle with anxiety are intelligent, acutely aware of their environment and signs and signals from their body of what needs their attention and constantly strive for improvement.  
However, when stress starts to feel like it consumes us or our lives, we know we have crossed into an unhealthy response.
Common symptoms of anxiety:
  •  feeling overwhelmed
  • burned out
  • having trouble sleeping
  • spending too much time alone
  • having low self confidence
  • feeling tense, on edge or keyed up
  • can't stop worrying or thinking about negative beliefs
  • irritability
  • having trouble concentrating
  • having trouble with relationships 
Often, we are anxious about something that is legitimately daunting. However there can also be a tendency to blow something out of proportion and jump to the absolute worst case scenario.  At that point it is easy to go into "crisis mode" and to get caught up in a fear response which makes it difficult to think logically about the situation.  
These symptoms are our brains and body's way of telling us that we need to stop, relax, and identify and address the root causes.

Four Easy Hacks for Lowering Anxiety

1. Face Your Fears

One thing we can do is to actually let ourselves sit with the discomfort and notice the ultimate root of the anxiety and bring logic back to the situation.  
For example: A decade ago, getting started in my career I went on vacation for a week and forgot to set my email with an automated response letting people know I was out.  When I got back and realized my mistake, I was consumed with fear of the worst case scenarios of people attempting to reach me in crisis or feeling I had abandoned them.  This made facing my inbox nearly unbearable.  At that point, I had to sit with the realization that something could have been missed and I would just have to check through the emails and respond as necessary.  When I finally did, nothing was amiss, except that I had spent half a day worrying and being unable to focus on anything but the dread of that experience.  

2. Breathe

This may seem simplistic, but it works.  Oxygen is utilized by our entire body, and deep breathing can help ensure we have optimum levels of oxygen to our brain, which allows us to think clearly.  Breathing deeply also releases dopamine, a hormone which helps us feel happy.  Please see my breathing protocol for complete instructions.  

3. Keep Busy

Often, anxiety can prevent us for being productive.  Keep a list of things you can do to get your mind and body active.  This can include things like taking a walk, enjoying a bath, reading, dancing, cleaning, gardening, writing...  Whatever it is that helps you feel good. 

4. Your Mind is your Ally

Often, we can make up an existence through our thoughts that becomes real.  If we believe "I am not good enough", "I am not worthy", "I don't deserve good things" then soon enough we start to believe it and act from a place of lack. Flipping the script can allow us to expand our belief system and open up the possibilities of our ability.  Try using an affirmation when you notice those negative scripts coming up.

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