Living Without Anxiety..

…Living without anxiety – this is something I’ve known very little about!

After healing from major surgery again (Stoma reversal June last year, 2014 – WOOOHOOO!), then dealing with a bullying sister-in-law, moving out of Russ’ parents home and beginning financially on our own, and continuing with the Gerson Therapy regime…I’ve seen how stressed I can get!

Anxiety is a horrible affliction. One really does “suffer” from it. Turns out I’ve been experiencing anxiety symptoms most of my life, but never knew that was what it was. A light-bulb went on when my psychologist said “anxiety is about the future, depression is about the past; Katrina you experience anxiety”. That simple statement was an “ah-hah” for me and now I know what I’m dealing with and why I do the patterns of thought that I do. More importantly, I can stop it. Anxiety is a form of fear. Fear that bad things are going to happen. A person experiencing anxiety is not in the present time, not in the now, they are in a future that hasn’t actually occurred, but they believe it has already.

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Anxiety itself can’t be ‘processed’, it is the precursor to panic. It isn’t real. It is a learnt pattern of thinking and behaving. It robs a person of joy, safety, and the capacity to choose what happens next for them, because to them, “next” is already a done deal. Anxiety is also worry, fretting and obsessing…usually over things like money, someone getting hurt, what people think if the house isn’t clean, not getting jobs completed, doing things on time (or not), …trivial and major life issues.

Here is what I have learnt over the past 18 months about learning to not live with Anxiety. My experience is gleaned from 2 psychologists, the Mindfulness Meditation course and a Breathology seminar I participated in. I’m sharing it in case some of it is helpful. I have and am applying it all. I have alarm alerts in my phone, books/journals in the house, I do short check-in meditations daily…and lots of new kinder self-talk! Where I am headed is a better place and my feelings of anxiety have reduced substantially. It still ‘hits” periodically, but I have to tools now to help myself, even if it is a bit messy at times. I no longer feel the same degree of helplessness and out of control like I did. I can now see that 99.9% of my anxiety is simply not true and not to go there. But it has taken time. xx Kat

anxiety girl

Tips for Diminishing Anxiety

Do a Mindfulness Meditation course or process. It teaches a person to be present to all of themselves, to reduce or eliminate the “secondary suffering” that the mind and thinking processes put us through on top of the initial problem or issue. It puts you back in charge of yourself because you are the Boss of you, not your unchecked thoughts. Meditation is about greater self-awareness, so you are in a position of greater choice. It isn’t about “nothingness” or denial. It isn’t pushing any thought or feeling away, it is allowing it to exist. Mindfulness practices can be found online; perhaps someone is running one in your area? I used a book “Mindfulness for Health” by Vidyamala Burch and Danny Penman. It came with a CD. Did it daily for 10 weeks. Loved it.

Breathe. When a person breathes out for double the time they breathe in, they change their physiology. For example, sitting and breathing slowly in on a count of four, pausing, then breathing out slowly on a count of 8. Any count will do, just breath out for twice the time you breathed in. Why? Because Anxiety states are activating the Sympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the fight, flight or freeze reactions. These speed up the heart rate, divert blood away from digestive processes, secrete hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and others, all of which over time deplete the body and cause health problems, including immune dysfunction and rob a person of energy. When you stop and breathe out slowly, you shut off the fight/flight pathway and open up the “Rest and Digest” pathway, or the Parasympathetic Nervous system response. The Vagus nerve in this system calms the heart, restores digestion, immune function. It also helps connect you to your self enough that you can once again think rationally and make conscious choices that help you, not harm you.

Check in with yourself 3-5 times per day. Have a diary open on a nearby table or surface. Set your alarm or discipline yourself in whatever way suits, to stop, sit, close your eyes and breathe. You “Check in” with yourself by doing your slow breathing as above, feel your entire physical body and notice what is physically happening in your body (stopped breathing? Heart rate? Stomach area? Muscle tension held?). Be honest about all it feels (don’t deny anything be very kindly honest with yourself and see, notice, feel). Stop the thinking that’s rolling on. Once you’re aware of it, don’t let it go on. Then write down anything you need to express (fears, the ‘playlist’, future worries, repetitive thoughts etc) in order to get back to being here now. If you can’t focus on the activity that you are presently doing, it’s time to STOP and check-in. You most likely will find that that mind chatter that is creating the anxiety is simply untrue and your thoughts are rattling on habitually, because you’ve let them do it all your life so far. That can change.

Anxiety is all about your mind and thinking being in the FUTURE. You are projecting into the future things that have not happened, usually bad ways they will happen and expecting the worst. This is a faulty set of core beliefs that are all learnt and can all be changed, with persistence and repeated practice of the new idea of way of thinking you actually want.

Take the time to write down and notice your ‘inner playlists’! In your mind you have records, tapes, a set of playlists that go on and on, during the day or when certain trigger events happen. Things like “I should have done better, more…” etc. “I’m no good at that…”, “this x or y thing is going to happen again and it won’t be any good”….”I can’t change, I am powerless, helpless, hopeless”….and there are many more. Listen to your own repetitive negative playlists. Over the course of a week, write every single one down in your “check in” book/journal. Try to get them all.

Ask yourself: “whose voice is that?”. If it’s not yours, it is time to wipe it. Stop it. Stop listening to it. Replace it – over time (takes months). When the playlist starts playing in your head, catch it, either tell it to stop or just shut it off and play the one you want to hear.

Don’t make the mistake of going to war with you. That is the root of anxiety as well. You want to be kind, loving, and gentle to yourself, like you are your own best friend. You only defeat this with loving, patient self-care. Growing your love for yourself is your goal, not beating your precious self up.

Feel. When strong emotions arise, like angry feelings, or very sad feelings like you want to cry – express them. Do it safely; as take yourself to a private place to let out the anger or a private secure place to let the tears flow.

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Write letters to yourself, as if you were the best friend, the BFF, talking to you about difficult situations. What advice and care would you give to your bestie in her time of need, or her/his difficulty, when going through a change? Practice giving this to yourself, talking to yourself in this way and caring for you as “she or he” would. Like I said, it takes practice. All children learn repetitively.

When anxiety hits. Sit, breathe, talk to yourself – ask, “Is this true?” “Is this happening right now?” Am I telling myself the truth or the old “playlist”? What is the truth? Focus on being right here, right now and what is real in this moment. This is different to a panic-attack, I’m only talking about an anxiety moment where a person feels out of control, too busy, not doing what they want but are on auto-pilot or thoughts are running away talking rubbish at you. Then notice how you feel.

Take Action: Most fears are not real, thought they sure do feel it. A person needs to take action to learn whether or not the anxiety talk or fear is what is going to actually happen in reality. A few times of testing it out, doing that thing you were nervous about and during the process mindfully watching to see if the thoughts and fear talk actually happens. It is very powerful to watch when it does not and to see how your mind plays tricks on you, and those faulty core beliefs are changeable through taking action and seeing for yourself.

You will stumble, “fail”, revert, back to your old ways during the transition time of breaking this pattern (months at least). Some days you may feel like you’ve made no progress at all. But that is your old thought patterns trying to sabotage you…don’t focus on that. Try not to believe it. Tomorrow is a brand new day, wakeup and set your intentions again to nurture, support and help you into your new ways of loving you and living anxiety free. Watch a child; learning something new takes practice, repetition, persistence and self-belief.

Involve God, or whom/whatever you believe in. We are not alone in this universe. Whether you believe in God, the Universe, Spirit, Source…whatever, there is a benevolence that wants only our good and works to support us and guide us in the most positive of ways. Ask for help. Set your “intention” to be supported, loved and gently guided through your journey to a new way of thinking and living. It makes a big difference. It strengthens our faith in a world that has our backs, even if we weren’t taught that as children. Love prevails if were willing to allow it to.

Blood & Urine Tests. If your anxious feelings are persistent and debilitating, you need the kind of help that is more than these few ‘tips’. Perhaps see your Doctor for a urine test for Pyroluria, which robs the body of much needed Vitamin B6 and Zinc, which require therapeutic doses to restore the body. Blood tests can reveal other mineral deficiencies, liver function, iron storage in the body, B12 and Vitamin D3; all of which affect mood when they are too low.

Acceptance. Make this a focus. Acceptance is not ‘putting-up-with’. Acceptance is no longer fighting what you can’t change or control. Can you change somebody else? When you make acceptance important, the question you ask yourself is: Can I change this about that person? If not, what do I need to accept that I need to do to allow them to be the way they are? What do I need to accept about myself? True acceptance is emotional peace with someone or something. Acceptance is a step-by step-path to healing the things we feel are out of our control.

Of course, none of these tips replace your own wisdom, or advice from a qualified health professional.

When the anxiety is understood and has diminished enough that you feel in charge of you, it also helps to imagine your life without worry, stress or those daily fears. To see and feel what your life can be without this pattern of living opens up your world to new possibilities. If you can imagine it, you can create it. I am beginning to realize that I am, we are creative, more than we ever realize. If I didn’t create my anxiety, I have perpetuated it by my lack of awareness of what it is and how it ran my life, and I can turn that around.

I hope you do too. Gratitude is natural when we don’t worry. ❤ gratitude

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