Guest Author - Tracy Hamilton
Anxiety is at the root of many mental health conditions. The emotions as so involved with how we feel that we can’t have a thought without it having a physical effect on us.
Take a minute now and think about something that has upset you in the past. Feel what it feels like in your body and notice all the old emotions re-surface. Let it go.
Now take your attention away from that and think of a time when you were really happy. Feel what it feels like in your body. Feel a smile on your face as you relive the happy time.
All the changes happened just through thinking about the different experiences, they were not actually happening but you had a physical reaction as if it were happening again. Both of the examples above have an effect because of the emotions and feelings attached to them.
You can observe someone else having a similar experience to you without it affecting you, or you can over empathise with them and go into your experience of what they are going through.
Self-awareness is key to coping with most of life’s challenges. What tends to happen is that we get caught up in the thoughts we are having and believe them; whether they are likely to happen or not. We then feel fear or happiness depending on the quality of the thoughts we have.
It is really helpful to become fully active in your thoughts and how they affect you. When you become aware of how they affect you, how you feel and the behaviours they cause/create you can effectively challenge them, and ultimately change them.
One of the biggest challenges we face is our own negative thoughts against our-self. We make it ‘wrong’ to be who we are. We make ourselves wrong because we think we shouldn’t be the way we are. It is okay to be who you are, and when you find self acceptance you can ultimately reduce the anxiety you feel around situations.
There is an intervention called exposure and response prevention (ERP) that asks you to actively put yourself in situations that cause you anxiety so you can create new coping behaviours. This may sound traumatic, however when you face your fears they can lose their grip on you.
This isn’t something to rush into. Taking your time and keeping consistent are key to your success; as well as a good support system so you’re not going through it on your own.
Whatever you are going through or having problems coping with, take time to acknowledge it and let it be okay for you to be having this experience.
Try to remember that everyone is going through something, other people don’t have it all worked out and it is how we deal with things that give them the meaning they have for us.