Anxiety April 9, 2009

Having some fear is normal and is even helpful. A small amount of fear helps us remember to look both ways before crossing a busy street, or tread carefully around heights. Fear is caused by a real, concrete situation: physical danger, failing a test, or going bankrupt. The cause of anxiety is often more difficult to explain. The source is more internal than external; a vague, distant, or even unrecognized danger. Anxiety can be so intense and long lasting that it conflicts with the ability to lead a full and free life.

Anxiety affects your whole self, and causes reactions on three levels:

  1. Physical level: rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, trembling or shaking, nausea, numbness, chest pain, trouble sleeping.
  2. Mental level: negative thoughts that spiral out of control, self-limiting beliefs, negative future fantasies, thoughts of dying, going crazy, getting out of control.
  3. Emotional level: fear, panic, anger, sadness.

To work with a pattern of anxiety, it is important to do work on all levels.

  1. Reduce physical symptoms by: nutrition, exercise, breathing exercises, meditation, positive visualizations, developing assertiveness, getting sleep.
  2. Change negative self-talk by: affirmations, ideal scenes, self-forgiveness, identifying catastrophic thinking and irrational beliefs.
  3. Identify, explore and express feelings by:  journaling, free from writing, hitting a pillow, digging in the garden, talking out feelings in therapy.
  4. Connect to Genuine Self through: prayer, meditation, setting intentions.

If you are experiencing challenges with anxiety, you are not alone. Fifteen percent of Americans report having diagnosable symptoms of anxiety and almost everyone has felt anxious at one time.

A Cherokee elder,  spoke to his grandson saying “There are two wolves fighting inside me all the time. One wolf is called Love and the other is called Fear.” His grandson asks, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” “The one I feed,” said the elder.


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