My intention in writing this Blog is to present some of the most basic, practical tools to help someone through their Anxiety States and the situations that are triggering them. I thought to myself, “If someone was in Day 1, Hour 1, Minute 1, of their very first Anxiety Attack, what would I tell them?” What follows is the result.
Healthy Mindsets to work through and move beyond Anxiety States...
Why is your Mindset important?
First, a note about the Conscious Mind, vs. the Unconscious Mind. To put it in the simplest terms I can, the Conscious Mind is a doer. It is an actor. It takes action. It is the Unconscious Mind that sets the parameters for that action. Your Conscious Mind is responsible for your actions; your Unconscious Mind is responsible for how and why you are taking that action.
You could think of your Mindset as being composed of your Values, Beliefs, Intentions, and Attitudes. Your Mindset resides in your Unconscious Mind. It is the ‘frame’ for every emotional state, every thought and action that happens throughout your day. Every thought, feeling, action and behavior is born from your Mindset. Consciously adjusting your Mindset will affect every feeling state and behavior that comes out of it.
What follows are tools to help shift your Mindset from Undesired States (Fear, Anxiety, Stress) into more Resourceful States. Try these on for yourself and you will have additional inner resources to address whatever challenges you face today. Read them. Take them in as best you can. Then let them go and move on to the Daily Regimen List. You can always come back to these later.
Self-Care is ALWAYS Priority #1.
This is the very first thing I teach anyone I work with, personally or professionally. If you aren’t at your best, whatever your best is in that moment, your ability to respond to everything in your life, is compromised. Making self-care your first priority puts you into a more resourceful state to respond, rather than react, to whatever you are facing.
In a Wilderness Survival situation, you need five things: Food, water, shelter, fire, and first aid. If you have these five things right now, you WILL survive whatever it is that you are going through.
The most basic self-care needs to attend to are: Are you rested, fed, hydrated, and sheltered, in this moment? If not, go attend to that NOW. You are your most precious resource.
An Anxiety State is the activation of the natural, “Fight, Flight, or Freeze” mechanism, and it inherently includes a false sense of urgency. This is an illusion. Unless you are in an immediate, emergent situation, you have time. Slow down and use that time now, to address to your basic self-care needs.
“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Take Ownership of your space(s).
First, take ownership of your Inner-Space. Whatever mental-emotional state you find yourself in, accept it. Then take ownership of your Outer-Spaces, your living & work spaces. Are there things that need attending to? Accept ‘what is’ and take ownership of it. You don’t have to do anything about any of it yet, simply accept it.
Start with “Acceptance.”
Acceptance does not mean Condoning, or Approving of a situation. Acceptance is acknowledging that what is happening, IS happening, in the present moment. Accept what is happening to you. Accept how you feel about what is happening to you. Acceptance allows you to move through the situations that are causing you distress. Acceptance of how you feel allows you to move with your inner-state, rather than against it.
I frequently tell myself, and others: “Start right where you are, not where you think you ‘should’ be.”
Be gentle with yourself.
Your anxiety feelings are involuntary. That is, you didn’t ‘choose’ to feel this way. It’s normal to feel embarrassed or ashamed of having anxiety. Don’t compound your anxiety feelings by projecting, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way.” And don’t put a timetable on when you ‘should’ be feeling differently. You didn’t ‘choose’ these feelings, but you can choose how to respond to these feelings.
Lean into it.
Whatever the task ahead of you, accept that you are in a Compromised State. Temper your expectations. Don’t demand perfection, from yourself or others. Give yourself permission to be right where you are. Give yourself permission to ‘get things wrong’ today.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Take it “One Day at a Time.”
Our lives unfold in patterns & cycles. A lifetime is made up of years. Years are made up of seasons. The smallest regular cycle we have to work with is one single day. Get up, go about the business of your day, go to sleep. And then the cycle repeats. The things you do every day turn into your unconscious habits. Develop daily regimens, rituals, and routines, to build Agency & states of resourcefulness.
In an Anxiety State, the mind often reaches into a far or distant and uncertain future. In a compromised, anxious state, that timescale is absolutely unmanageable. Narrow your life down to this one day and notice how it becomes more manageable.
Know that there is hope.
Yes, you are a unique individual, but you are NOT the first person, or the only person to go through these challenges, or have these feelings. There are others who have found working solutions to the same life challenges you currently face, and relief from the emotions that you are currently experiencing. What is possible for others, is possible for you as well.
Know that you have choices.
One feeling associated with Anxiety is the feeling of being trapped, or of not having choices. You may not have control over the outer circumstances of your life, and your feelings may be overwhelming, but you DO have choices.
If it helps, make a list. What do I want to see happen? What are your choices about this, right now? One N.L.P. Presupposition is:
"There are always more choices."
You WILL survive this.
Remember those five things needed in a Wilderness Survival Situation? Here they are again: Food, Water, Shelter, Fire, and First Aid. If you have those five things, you WILL survive what you are going through.
“As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong with you, whatever you think is wrong.” ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn (From ‘Full Catastrophe Living’)
Know that there is help.
If you or someone you know are suffering from frequent or persistent feelings of fear, anxiety, or stress, help IS available, and relief IS possible.
Always consult with your Medical Doctor or Physician regarding your Mental-Emotional, as well as Physical Health.
Adopting these attitudes can help you move more gracefully through your current life challenges and any anxious feelings surrounding them.
I’d love to hear from you. What are some of the Values, Beliefs, Intentions, and Attitudes that help you move through feelings of fear, anxiety or stress?
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And if you take any one thing away from this Blog, I want it to be this:
Remember: Self-Care is ALWAYS Priority #1!
~ Daniel W. Finney, CHt