Accepting What Is:
The Key To Soothing Your Anxiety
In my latest blog series, I’m taking a closer look at how you can skillfully handle your anxiety.
You may want to check out my first blog post which provides a high-level overview of what anxiety is and how you can manage it.
My second post goes into greater depth about anxiety and panic and provides a few simple strategies for you to try.
In this blog post, I will continue sharing the most important strategy to deal with your anxiety, panic, or OCD.
I’m going to start today with this insanely simple and frustratingly difficult tip:
Start Accepting What is!
Such an easy concept to understand…
Yet seemingly impossible to put into practice!
So, how can you start accepting what is?
Love the mat.
You are likely asking, “Love the mat?”
Yes! Love the Mat!
Let me explain.
If you are into martial arts, you may have heard this mantra before.
If you’re not a martial arts enthusiast, to “love the mat” means to accept that you will fall. You will stumble. You will get defeated.
It's acknowledging that defeat is a part of being human.
Part of becoming a black belt is the experience of failing. Rather than resisting your stumbles and defeats, “love the mat” is a way to remember that it’s best for you to accept reality for whatever is right in front of you.
When you are able to accept that you are imperfect, human, and fallible and acknowledge that you have many weaknesses, you no longer resist.
From a psychological perspective, what we know is that what we resist, persists.
If you struggle with anxiety and/or panic, it’s likely that your strategy for dealing with it is to STAY CALM AT ALL TIMES...
there’s only one problem: it doesn’t work.
In fact, your strategy of staying calm creates the opposite of what you are trying to achieve
Trying to stay calm at all times keeps you on alert and hyperaware of potential ‘dangers’ in your environment.
This causes you to clamp down on difficult emotions and scan your body for any signs that anxiety has popped up.
When we start accepting what is reality, we can acknowledge that it is counterproductive to try and stay relaxed.
What are steps you can take to start accepting what is?
Once again, an easy concept to understand yet it is seemingly impossible to put into practice!
Accepting What Is:
You have to have an attitude shift about your anxiety.
It’s shifting your perspective from trying to stay calm to welcoming- even desiring- anxiety.
If you can view your anxiety as an opportunity to practice your skills, you are accepting the anxiety.
If you can get excited that your anxiety is giving you another opportunity to practice dealing with difficult feelings, you are on a good path!
If you can appreciate the fact that you are capable of handling the anxiety right now, you are headed in the right direction.
Here’s an anxiety hack that can help you switch your attitude:
Anxiety and Excitement are in the same physiological state.
Think about it, when you are either anxious or excited
- Your heart will race
- You’ll start sweating
- You’ll feel a pit in your stomach
- You’ll feel a surge of cortisol
The only difference between the two states is that in excitement, your brain is happily anticipating things.
In the fear state, your brain is scanning the environment for anything that could be off.
So, when you start feeling anxious, tell yourself how excited you are to be learning these new skills.
By telling your brain that you are excited, your brain will make sense of why your body is doing what it’s doing… and you’ll get more excited.
Accepting What Is:
Here’s another anxiety hack to get you back to calm:
Take a deep breath in through your nose for about 4 seconds.
During that time, notice the feeling of air slowly entering your chest and belly.
Then take a long exhale through your mouth. It should last about 8 seconds.
Whatever you do, avoid short, shallow breathing. If you do that, it tricks your brain into feeling more panic and fear!
Long out breaths will clear out some of the cortisol levels floating around in your blood!
After a few minutes, your body will start feeling more relaxed and less tense.
In doing this, you are doing breathwork while also practicing mindfulness.
By paying attention to the breath coming in and out, you are focusing your attention on the present moment.
Are you ready to give therapy a go?