Anxiety is used as a catch-all term today. Anxiety effects so many people in a variety of circumstances and across demographics, so a cogent argument could be made for the need to understand what the word actually means. The word anxiety comes from the Latin root word, angere, to choke or cause pain. What a fitting description of anxiety! Anxiety is not pure fear, which is concrete. One of the most plaguing parts of the symptom is that it is vague, a nebulous feeling that something bad is going to happen. Human beings, naturally like to address problems within the bounds of possibility, and the sensation of anxiety doesn’t fit this mold whatsoever.
Feeling anxious becomes overwhelming sometimes because it is a symptom that impacts every part of our being. Physiological symptoms include: sweating, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. Anxiety effects us from a behavioral perspective as it sabotages our ability to express ourselves and diminishes our capacity to be concerned with the goals we typically care about. Finally, from a psychological perspective, we detach from ourselves and take things personally, are overly subjective, when anxious.
Solutions? I like to encourage people to find respite by tuning into their body. If we are able to reduce bodily reactivity, primarily through using breath and movement, our anxiety may shift to good ol’ regular stress, which feels manageable. Here, we regain a sense of safety and control, even at a minimum. Behavioral and psychological symptoms usually take much more practice, but are long acting once we get into a pattern. Our knee jerk reaction to anxiety is to flee, or practice avoidance. In order to face anxiety head on, we need to notice our interpretation of a stressor (psychological perspective) and then eliminate the tendency to run from that stressor (behavioral perspective).
A simpler, formulaic way to think about anxiety is that a troubling external event + negative self talk = big feelings and reactions based in anxiety. Our accountability, where we can exhibit control, lies within the self talk. Once we begin to practice noticing, we are able to pay subtle attention to the internal dialogue that accompanies anxiety. Negative self talk is just a dirty habit- it can be broken! To put it simply, less negative self talk, less persistent feelings of terrible, dreadful, consuming anxiety.