Reframing Anxiety

Reframing Anxiety

Written by Andrea Baker


Your chest feels tight. You feel light headed and are looking for the nearest exit.

Everyone’s voice seems to grate on your last nerve.

You can’t feel your face.

Sound familiar?

Let’s talk about anxiety for a bit, shall we?

For a lot of us, being in a constant state of anxiety can feel normal, after all, our lives are demanding right? Let me ask you...what if you didn’t have to feel that way? What if we looked at anxiety as a warning system instead of the byproduct of life?

In my experience anxiety is the culmination of future or past rumination. Over investing in the “what-ifs” of life and abandoning the present moment, or leaving important issues unaddressed. It’s the constant sensation that nothing is right and you have to fix it ALL immediately.

It seems tolerable...until it’s not.

So what can you do? Once you’ve determined that it is not a medical issue requiring intervention, you can do the following to help find some relief in the moment. This is what I do when I feel like everything is just too big, my thoughts are racing and I’m having a hard time getting to the next part of my day.

Here and NOW Meditation:

● Get yourself to a quiet spot
● Start by taking deep breaths and feeling into your body
● Notice where in your body you’re feeling tension
● Do not allow yourself to think about the past or future
● Do not assign a story to your feelings, just notice what they are
● Allow yourself to focus only on WHAT IS in that moment
● Identify the feelings you are having
● Repeat until the tension has subsided
○ You may feel a wave of overwhelm, you DO NOT have to do
anything about it....just observe.

This will help to get your nervous system regulated in the moment. It can take a minute or longer depending on you, take your time. When my brother passed away this fall, I had to do this exercise several times a day in order to stay functional. The more I did it, the better equipped I was to deal with those big emotions and anxious feelings.

What next?

Reframe. Remember, the feeling of anxiety is our nervous system telling us something is wrong. However, when we dig a little deeper into what the cause might be, it might feel really big and unsolvable.

This can look like a toxic work environment, over responsibility, financial stress or a failing relationship...all of which can’t be solved through meditation. While meditation can offset the feelings, getting to a solution requires ACTION. But first, we need to reframe our thinking to better understand what will make the best difference for the short and long term outcomes.
So how do you make those big changes that will lead to a sustained state of well

Sometimes quitting your job isn't possible right away, however, you could make
progress by setting some healthy boundaries around work, or maybe start applying to other jobs that seem like a better fit for you. Neither of these things are BIG changes, but each will get you CLOSER to a solution. Maybe you are at the end of a romantic relationship that you really wanted to keep...instead of hopping on dating apps for distraction, you give yourself some distance and space by going no-contact for a couple weeks? The takeaway here is to measure progress not results. As you move forward with action, the results will unfold over time.

One of my favorite ways to look at issues is this; If there is no open door...find a crack. If you can’t find a crack, look for a window. You can’t solve it if you can’t see it and you can’t eat an elephant in one bite.

So while anxiety is something so many of us live with and try to manage, we might be forgetting that at the root of it, is a really important navigation tool. Our bodies are surprisingly capable organisms. Chronic and constant anxiety is detrimental over the long term, but seeing its purpose for alerting you to change is truly a gift.

**Disclaimers: I am not a licensed professional, just a person with an opinion. If you feel like you are having a mental health crisis please reach out to your medical provider. This article is solely based on my own experiences overcoming anxiety and not meant as medical or psychological advice.

I am a Humboldt County to San Diego transplant with a firm belief that adventures exist in every nook and cranny of life. The best ones are on the open road with loud music and no destination. I have kiddos, a car and an evil ex...I hope to one day tell the story on a Netflix special. In the meantime, you can find me writing about things near and dear to my heart like wellness, creativity and overcoming big and small things.

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