Writer: Christy Sperling
Anxiety is a common feeling that affects all people, worldwide. However, when it becomes debilitating, that is when help may be needed. Diagnosable anxiety can be described as excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. Restlessness and irritability are some common symptoms, but anxiety can take on physical symptoms too. Medications for anxiety can be addictive and dangerous and those who struggle with anxiety may feel hopeless to find a solution. We will explore some spiritual tools to find peace of mind and learn how to handle anxiety.
1. Getting Present
The number one solution to help acute anxiety is getting present. Anxiety is almost always in the future and so to get mindful for a few minutes will set the pace right again and you will be able to handle anxiety. It is important to stay self-aware and find out what anxiety feels like for you. Once you start to notice symptoms coming on, go to the breath right away. The easiest thing to do is to take 2 minutes to step aside, breath deep, and go within. From there, we find our center and we can start making logical decisions again. Throughout the day it can be helpful to just slow down and remember the breath. During transitions at work, or every time we get into the car, or even before we start eating, getting back to the breath will help us keep our center. Explore different forms of pranayama, it may be as simple as breathing out the left nostril to calm the mind, or you could try 4-square breathing (Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, exhale for 4, and hold for 4). Regardless of the form, the breath can be our lifesaver when anxiety comes creeping in.
2. Nature Calls
Nature is another fantastic way to keep ourselves from the harsh effects of anxiety. When we start to have symptoms, getting outside, laying our bare feet in the grass, or going on a walk will help significantly! Nature is healing and will help bring us back to our balanced state of mind. This can be a great preventative tool as well. 1 hour outside a day will keep the worries away and you can easily handle anxiety!
3. Finding Yourself
Once we get good at finding this center space with the breath, it is important to go deeper. Anxiety has its roots in fear and we must find the underlying reason why we feel the way we do or it will continue to flare up. you won’t be able to handle anxiety until you find the root causes of why you feel in a certain way. It is imperative to do this deeper work when we are calm because our ego thinks when we are anxious, but our higher mind can answer questions once we sit in silence. Then we contemplate. Why do I feel this way? What is the real cause? What am I afraid of? Whether you meditate, contemplate, pray or journal about these questions, it doesn’t matter as long as you find some answers. You may begin to notice patterns. For example; every time you are anxious is when you drive. Where did this come from? Is this logical? It could be because you were in a car accident in the past. You might then be able to see clearly that being fearful about it will only make the situation worse. Once we discover why ask yourself if this fear is valid. Is it true? Does this fear/belief serve you in any way? Then it’s time to let it go!
4. Watch Where You Are.
Because we are all interconnected energetically, sometimes we feel other people’s emotions. Have you ever been in a meeting when a person said something rude to another and you started feeling uncomfortable? Have you seen someone who was really happy come into a room smiling and all of a sudden you found yourself joyful as well? This is because we are a part of collective consciousness. Now, when it comes to anxiety it can be helpful to know that this energy might not even belong to you. If you are only anxious around other people or you have been told you are an empath, this may apply to you. A tool to find out if this is your own is to simply state “Does this anxiety belong to me?” Then you proceed to send it back. The decision is all that is necessary but some people choose to visualize this in some way as well. Sending anxiety back is not a disservice to the other person. Nobody is assisted when we take on the emotions of others. Instead, you are better able to help them when you are in a centered space. The rule of thumb is that if it is not yours, don’t take it on! You should empathize, that’s fine. But you should never handle anxiety that never belonged to you.
5. Buddha Once Said…
The Buddha said that the world is suffering. Thus fear and anxiety can be a part of that. However, he also said that this world is an illusion. The idea that the world is a dream can be a difficult pill to swallow but from a more practical perspective, everyone can agree that the things of the world are constantly changing. If we can avoid getting too attached to these changing things, knowing that they are temporary, we will suffer less. It is helpful to remind ourselves that whatever concern we have “This too shall pass.” We have come this far in life and wasted many hours worrying when worry has never solved anything! Therefore, trusting that the universe may have a plan is key. Nature takes care of a tree and the tree need not think at all to become the best version of itself. What makes us think that the creative energy of the earth has left us behind? When fear takes over, anxiety is the result, thus the solution to having fear is having faith. Do you remember when you were worrying about passing that exam in school? You may have lost sleep, had difficulty concentrating, or even started shaking before the test. Whether you passed the exam or not, does it really matter NOW? Trust is the answer to all of our problems today.
6. The Art of Preventative Practice
Another tool worth mentioning is to have a preventative practice to keep anxiety away before it even starts. This will look different for everyone but I would recommend having a daily morning routine that includes yoga or meditation. Taking at least 20 minutes to start the morning off right can change the entire day. It can be as easy as putting on a guided meditation or yoga routine on youtube. Otherwise setting a timer and focusing on the breath can be a game changer. Doing this will ensure that we have a calm and collected mind before our day even begins thus helping us remain mindful throughout the day so that we can catch ourselves before the anxiety gets out of control. Another preventative skill is making sure to be on a regular exercise routine. A simple walking routine can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety significantly.
Anxiety can be completely debilitating, but there is hope. If we can utilize our breath, get into nature, exercise, not take on others emotions, and get to the root of the fear, anxiety will begin to dissipate. Then we can start to find a practice like meditation or yoga we will ensure anxiety stops before it starts. You might be thinking that this is too much to do but know that change is a process that takes time. Remember that it is progress, not perfection! Most importantly, be gentle with yourself through this journey into finding a balanced heart and mind. Peace is to you and all beings.