Why I'm Learning to Accept My Anxiety

I had come to terms with the fact that anxiety couldn’t just be fixed. It couldn’t be wished away. I couldn’t keep fighting against it and win. I’ve tried everything I come across. I’ve read every book, I read-read-read. Nothing seems to fix it. As I wonder what else I can do to “fix” it and make it go away, I realize the only thing I haven’t tried is doing nothing. For a fixer and problem solver like me, this is a foreign concept. Be still and do nothing? Being still isn’t solving a problem. Being still isn’t productive. It goes against everything I have read and everything I have learned. I’m finding myself no longer reaching for medication to keep calm in situations where the panic would normally rear its ugly head. Could this really be working?

These are some things I have learned about my anxiety while I sit with it. I have learned my cell phone actually creates more anxiety. It is one of those things that is used as a distraction, a way to dissociate from the uncomfortable panic. It keeps me busy; clicking, double tapping, scroll up and down, reading and liking. The one thing it doesn’t do is keep me grounded. It doesn’t keep me still. It keeps me fighting against anxiety instead of riding the waves. I have found that when I fight against my anxiety it is telling me that it is dangerous and I must defeat it. No wonder I’m in fight or flight mode all day when my body is yelling: “Danger, danger, danger.”

Now, instead of reaching for my cell phone when I need a distraction, I reach for something that will help regulate my body while I ride the wave of my anxiety. I focus on my breathing and find something to touch and hold; therapeutic putty, a tangle, a rubber band to stretch. I reach for something to smell; essential oils, a smelly marker or sticker. I reach for something to taste; a piece of candy or gum. I reach for something to hear; meditation audio or relaxing music. I reach for something to watch; a visualization video, waves crashing, anything relaxing.

With any of these tools, I am able to be mindful in the moment with my focus on just one thing.

I check in with my body. I listen to the clues it gives me. Am I feeling tense? How is my breathing? Do my emotional thoughts need to hear from my wise mind?

My anxiety has not gone away. It still comes to visit. The only thing that’s changed is my perception. I no longer view it as an unwanted solicitor, but a friend who comes to keep me safe. The more I sit and be still, the more I realize anxiety is just something conditioned in me to keep me safe because there have been so many times I have not been. Now, I invite anxiety to sit with me; we ride the wave together, knowing all will be OK.

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Thinkstock photo via Hemera Technologies

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