Have you ever experienced a pounding heart, sweaty palms, brain freeze, and maybe dizziness? When did you experience it? Was it when you were excited? Or when you were anxious?
It could’ve been in either case, because our physical symptoms of anxiety and excitement are very similar.
So, how do we know if we are experiences excitement or anxiety? It depends on which of the possible outcomes we believe is probably. If we think something will be pleasurable, then we are excited. If we think it will be unpleasant, then we are anxious.
The interesting part of the excitement/anxiety option is just that. In many ways, which emotion we feel is a choice we make. If we consciously take steps to lean one way or the other, over time, we will more commonly react to situations with that leaning.
The truth is that there is no actual stress or anxiety in the world; it's your thoughts that create these false beliefs. You can't package stress, touch it, or see it. There are only people engaged in stressful thinking.
Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.
To keep it simple, I've grouped the reduce pain/increase pleasure tips into three main categories.
1. Physical sensations.
Both excitement and anxiety are part of the sympathetic nervous system – the fight or flight system. If we want to think about what’s happening, we need to switch over to the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS), which is focused on rest and digest, and where planning occurs.
One of the main tactics to restore the PSNS is deep breathing. The box breathing method is easy to follow. Picture a square and visualize tracing the square, each side representing a change in your breathing. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for 4, and hold for 4 (or whatever length of count is calming for you). Remember, your belly should expand and contract as you breathe. Your shoulders shouldn’t move much.
Physical awareness. Lay down or sit quietly, slowly scan the body, observing how each area feels. Is there dizziness? A headache? Tension? Can you put it on a 1-10 scale? Can you relax each part before moving on. If not, it doesn’t matter. No judgement. Only continue on. Once done, repeat the process and see if there have been any changes.
Become an observer of your thoughts. Listen, without judgement, to the voices in your head. Does walking into a room of strangers cause you anxiety? Assuming the room is physically safe, what are the worries? Being the only one without someone to speak with? Not dressed appropriately for the occasion? Afraid of saying something wrong? Those are all common thoughts.
But, we can also choose to think other thoughts, such as: Maybe I’ll see an old friend. Or maybe I’ll meet a new friend. There’s a chance I’ll be part of a conversation that is so funny, I’ll laugh harder than I have all week.
Our brain can only focus on one thing at a time. We can consciously choose a thought that empowers us.
In many ways, our anxiety is created by thoughts of safety, that is, emotional safety. It can be difficult to walk into a room of strangers, start a conversation, or add to one. It’s much easier to stay at home or to stare at our phone when in a crowd. However, focusing on emotional safety limits our world. The best time to start moving into our discomfort zone is now. Pushing on the discomfort zone leads to a larger comfort zone.
Is there a preparation plan that can be implemented if needed? For the example above, you could have 5 conversation starters ready prior to going out, such as, something unusual that happened in the neighbourhood.
Pairing. Consciously note the physical sensations previously coupled with anxiety, and connect it with, “So this is what excitement feels like. I’m excited because . . . “
We get to choose our behaviours. We can reduce our anxiety by introducing an activity that takes baby steps towards whatever situations we fear. If we have trouble having conversations with strangers, begin by choosing to say a quick ‘hi’ to 3 non-friends, such as clerks or people we pass on the street. Best if committed to do regularly, such as daily.
Learn what actions reduce your anxiety – Does going for a jog help to feel relaxed? Or a walk in nature have an impact on your level of anxiety? Maybe there is something inconspicuous that can be done to reduce tension. One example is massaging an anxiety pressure point found in the valley between your thumb and index finger.
The last tip is to ask yourself, “What is the best next step I can do now for my long term happiness?” and do it. Immediately.
4. Put yourself in the best state possible – well hydrated and well rested. Get well rested by using one of our popular 10 lb uniblanket. Imagine how good a deep sleep every night would feel! Bet you don't have to think very long or hard to know how you feel about it.
Have a calm or exciting week, which is partially up to you.
P.S. Do you remember a time when you successfully moved from feeling anxious/panicky to calm?
When I was in my first trimester of my first child, there were some issues. After hemorrhaging, I was told, based on the amount of blood I lost, my baby couldn’t survive. Thankfully, although I was away from home when the trouble happened, I wasn’t alone. That night, exhausted, I started to cry. And not a quiet cry, but a deep gulping cry. My friend, sensing I needed to become calm and sleep, encouraged me to take deep breaths and relax. Her words triggered a change in my thinking to “I need to create calm.” I did sleep well that night and continued to remain calm. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I hadn’t been steered in the right direction at that moment. When I arrived at home, I saw my doctor. Remarkably, there was still a heartbeat, and several months later, our son was born.
Have you, like me, ever surprised yourself with the ability to take steps towards an emotional state of your choosing? I’d love to hear how you did it. Maybe what you share will be a good teaching for me. We all need to learn new coping strategies.
***Help yourself relax with a Vibrating Mat***
Soothing heat function
5 powerful massage motors and 6 modes
Full body massage. 3 massage zones: neck & shoulders, upper and lower back, thighs and legs.
Now $75. Limited number available. Email to inquire or to order. Thanks.
Websites that may be of interest to you.
https://www.massagemag.com/science-reflexology-research-86595/ - good points when looking at any research
https://www.turningpointpsychology.ca/blog/how-anxiety-affects-you 7 part series about anxiety
https://www.healthline.com/health/pressure-points-for-anxiety#research acupuncture points for anxiety
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/anxiety-zen/201405/22-quick-tips-change-your-anxiety-forever good variety of tips