What Your Anxiousness is Telling You
Everyone feels anxious sometimes; some more than others, but the reality is that everyone knows what anxiety feels like. Anxiousness is often thought of as a bad thing, something to get rid of. Of course people think anxiety is a bad thing - it feels terrible. However, most people misread their own anxiety and it leads to some misconceptions:
1) Anxiety is bad and needs to be eliminated
2) I am anxious and therefore something is wrong with me
3) I feel anxiety therefore I need therapy or medication.
Rather than uncritically seeking to eliminate the feeling of anxiety, how about looking at it differently in order to learn what it might be saying?
Here are a few things to know about your own anxiousness:
It’s normal. Feeling anxious is normal. In general, feeling anxious is the result of your brain telling your body to prepare for something. Some people feel anxious in the morning as they get ready for work or school. It makes sense. Something is going to be required of you shortly and you need the energy to engage whatever that situation is. In preparation, your brain releases various chemicals to give your body the energy to engage the tasks of the day. It is normal.
It’s helpful. Anxiousness is often energy that has yet to be directed into something meaningful, productive, or constructive. Oftentimes simply engaging in that which the brain has prepared the body for accesses that anxious energy and the anxious feelings resolve. Do not wait for the anxious feelings to leave before getting productive; instead, get productive to make the anxious feelings go away. And if you have not connected the dots yet, procrastination actually leads to increased levels of anxiety even though it is hoped to decrease them.
It speaks. Sometimes people feel anxious when they do not have some regular thing in front of them like a job or school. When the anxiety is not resolved in work or school or routine of life, then it might be telling you something. Perhaps you have forgotten to do something that is not part of your usual routine – mom’s birthday is coming up, need to return that email, didn’t get all the planning done for vacation, or need to fit that oil change in somehow. Anxiousness speaks and it is good to listen.
It’s manageable. If you take a few minutes each morning, evening, or midday, whenever the anxiousness pays a visit, to take 10 slow deep breaths, you will be surprised at how much of the anxiousness is resolved. If you combine that with allowing all muscles to relax, it is almost restful. It doesn’t always completely eliminate the anxiety, but it does bring calm. Really? How? Deep breathing floods the bloodstream with oxygen, which gives a physiological calming effect to the body.
When you think different about your anxious feelings, you can actually leverage the anxious energy toward a useful end. Developing a friendship with those anxious feelings and working them to your advantage is a much better use of thought energy and the anxiousness itself. Don’t let yourself get caught in the worrying about worrying trap. It’s a psychological black hole. Instead, engage it, listen to it, and manage it.