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3 Skills to Help You Leave Anxiety Behind

By February 28, 2024March 5th, 2024No Comments

Your mind is racing and it’s hard to concentrate. You might have tension in your body or a pit in your stomach. Maybe an overwhelming feeling of dread or panic has become the norm.

This is anxiety.

It’s unpleasant, uncomfortable, and can seriously impact your life at home, at work, and play.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be like this forever. Anxiety is highly treatable, and there is immense hope when it comes to finding relief.

Here are 3 skills to help you leave anxiety behind.

Skill 1: Practice Mindful Awareness

Anxiety can’t survive in the present. It feeds off us mentally jumping into the future and past, remembering all the ways we messed up previously and forecasting all the bad things that might happen moving forward.

The reality is we can’t actually knowwhat’s going to happen in the future. It’s all a made-up story in our head, and living in this made up future story is fuel for anxiety. Instead, we can learn to live in the present.

To start practicing this, bring your attention to the here and now.

Notice your five senses. What do you currently see, hear, smell, taste, and feel? What thoughts are occurring? What feelings and physical sensations are in your body? We don’t have to do anything with these, but noticing them can help us create space between ourselves and the anxious experiences. This space allows us to take action on things that will be good for us rather than staying stuck ruminating about the past or future.

If you want to take this skill to the next level, I highly recommend cultivating a daily meditation practice. Just a few minutes per day can make a world of difference.

Here’s a basic breath meditation to get you started:

Skill 2: Practice Acceptance

As you build awareness skills, you’ll give yourself and amazing opportunity to also practice acceptance. Acceptance is key when it comes to anxiety and is essentially giving yourself permission to feel and experience everything in the here and now—even in the discomfort of it all—without judgement.

Accepting the discomfort of anxiety is basically a superpower, because so much of what feeds anxiety is us trying to get rid of it with all that future thinking. When instead we come to the present with acceptance, our brain and body learn that the anxiety is not a threat, which allows it to move through us much more fluidly.

We can also practice acceptance with the triggering thoughts that start the anxiety cycle. A massive support here is recognizing that we aren’t our thoughts and feelings. They are simply things we experience, and we get to choose how we respond. These experiences don’t have to be so different than seeing a random billboard on the freeway. We can notice it and acknowledge it, but we don’t have to obey it.

Skill 3: Live Your Values

Anxiety can derail us from living the life we want—but only if we let it! The previous two skills give our power back when it comes to anxiety, and now it’s time to cash in on that power.

Through awareness and acceptance, we now have the space to make different decisions and jump back into life with both feet.

Here are some questions to consider as you do this:

  • If you didn’t have anxiety right now, what would you do?
  • What would your best self do in this moment?
  • What do you actually care about in this moment? —Connecting with family or friends? Doing meaningful work? Having fun?

Let these answers guide you as you step into the life you want in any given moment, even when anxiety is present. Allowing the anxiety while doing things that matter to you will further teach your brain and body that the anxiety isn’t a threat and it will slowly fade away with time—but not completely! Remember, anxiety is a normal emotion and it’s ok to experience it.

Let’s go start living!

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