Jun 23

Anxiety and Overcoming It

Sometimes you move through life, and things feel as if they are remaining much the same. You get up, deal with whatever is going on that day, and, although you may have some anxiety, you can handle it.

And then there are those other times….

For me, they seem to come out of the blue. It’s not that I can’t identify issues that I am struggling with, but my anxiety reaction seems way out of proportion to the events themselves.

Then I have difficulty sleeping, awake with heart racing, damp face, sick stomach. And I wonder why this had to happen—again.

People with ADD traits are highly sensitive, and we often feel things more deeply than others. Don’t blame yourself if you’re anxious.

But also, it’s possible to move through these episodes in better and better ways, learning more about how to be with anxiety and let it bring its message. It’s there for a reason.

But first things first:

Begin to separate yourself from the anxiety. It isn’t all you. It’s a part of what’s happening. But there is another part, the witness. And the more you can develop the witness, the easier it will become to lower the intensity, and the quicker the anxiety will pass.

* Breathe:

There are many ways to allow the breath to ease anxiety. Here is a simple one. Inhale slowly to the count of 10, allowing your belly to fill first, then expanding the air into the chest. Hold for 10. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips for 10, letting your shoulders drop. Repeat 10 times.

* Write your thoughts:

Write down everything you’re feeling, what’s happening, whatever you’re going through. Keep writing until you’ve exhausted the racing thoughts. I often use this when I wake up at night and can’t get back to sleep. If you like, write in a journal. You can also write on a piece of paper, then tear it up and throw it away. After I write my thoughts I’m able to get back to sleep, and sometimes I even wake up with greater clarity around a particular issue.

* Meditate on the breath:

Sit on a chair or cushion, or sit up in bed.  Watch your breath moving in and out, either focusing on the place beneath your nostrils, or the rise and fall of your ribs. Notice the sensations in your body, uncomfortable though they may be. Continually return your attention to the breath, without trying to control it. If you can only manage 5 minutes, then stop, and do 5 more minutes later.

*  Meditate on an object:

For this kind of meditation, just focus your eyes on something that is a few feet away, with your eyes at a 45 degree angle. This will allow you to hold your gaze more easily.

* Walk outside as much as possible, especially in nature. I live in New York City but I can always find a park. Sit on a bench, listen to the birds, and gaze at the greenery. When you walk, try to focus on the movements of your body and your breath.

* Consider seeing a therapist to talk about what’s bothering you and get support. And if you have a trusted friend, then please talk to him or her as well.

We all need connection and reflection to deal with life’s challenges. These simple methods, when used consistently, can help you work with your anxiety in a constructive way and allow you to take charge of your life.

“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” —Henry Ward Beecher