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Stop Doing These 3 Things If You Want to Reduce Your Anxiety

Remove habits and behaviours that fuel your anxiety.

If you are struggling to manage your anxiety, then the problem might be that you are only masking the underlying issue with your current actions and behaviours.

Those looking to find relief from anxiety tend to turn to media or techniques that focus on breathing. These outlets can certainly be helpful in reducing anxiety for the moment, but they may not be as effective long-term if your current actions are working against you.

If you want to enhance the effectiveness of meditation and other practices, and finally begin to manage your anxiety, then you need to stop denying your anxiety, running away from your emotions, and seeking sympathy and validation from others.

The more you deny your anxiety, the more anxious you feel.

Anxiety occurs as part of the flight or fight response in reaction to a perceived threat. The flight or fight response is characterised by increased blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and more as the body prepares to act.

The threat may be real or imagined. A frequently shared acronym is F.E.A.R, standing for False Evidence Appearing Real. The problem with this acronym as well as related beliefs associated with anxiety is that it can make you feel as if you are overreacting.

This in turn can make you feel as if you don’t have a right to experience the emotion. You may belittle yourself and tell yourself how you shouldn’t be feeling what you do. This may lead to mental arguments as you try to stop yourself from feeling anxious.

The more you fight against what you are feeling and try to deny or shame yourself, the more it feeds into your anxiety.

Anxiety is the body’s alarm system. It’s there for a reason. It’s letting you know that something is wrong. Imagined danger is based upon memory or assumptions. It is fear and danger based upon patterns and possibilities — what you think might happen even if it doesn’t align with what is actually going on in the environment at the moment. It may have some basis in truth, but is not entirely accurate.

Ignoring the alarm does not make it go away. Instead your body may signal louder and harder to get your attention. If you are able to suppress it for the time being, then it lingers and builds until it reaches a breaking point.

Don’t fight the anxiety. Acknowledge it. Acknowledging it lets your body know that it doesn’t need to signal as loud. It has gotten your attention and you are looking into it.

This doesn’t mean that you give in to your worry. You can accept that you are feeling a certain way, and that you have a right to feel that way, without taking action or succumbing to your fear. Speak out loud if that helps.

Be careful of your wording. I feel anxious is better than I am anxious. The phrase “I am” can suggest that the anxiety is part of your identity, while the word “feel” provides a sense of distance.

Give voice only to words that acknowledge your anxiety. If you are tempted to argue with yourself or fight it, then simply note that you have that thought and don’t give it any more time or attention.

Social media, video games, movies, and other types of media and activities may be a form of escape that prevents you from dealing with your anxiety.

If you are in a threatening situation, then there is nothing wrong with looking for an escape. The issue is when that escape comes in the form of activities that prevent you from fully experiencing your emotions.

It seems backwards, but the only way you can learn to handle anxiety is to let yourself experience it. If, at the first sign of trouble in the form of anxious or worried thoughts or feelings, you turn to pleasurable or easy activities, then you become reliant on them.

They distract you and give you a feeling of relief that loses its impact the more you become used to it. You may give into the temptation without even realising it. It becomes a mindless habit. Your awareness and sense of immersion decreases.

This create more anxiety because you become afraid that you might not have access to that piece of content or might not be able to repeat a certain action. Less self reliance means more anxiety because you are unable to trust yourself to handle it. You turn outward instead of inward.

These habits or compulsive coping mechanisms feed into your anxiety. The more you act on it, the more your body feels you need to act on it. Listen to your body by letting yourself experience the emotion without seeking immediate relief.

This is challenging because of the intensity of the physical reactions that come with anxiety. If you experience particularly high levels of anxiety you can begin by giving yourself a short period of time, such as five minutes, before seeking relief. You can gradually increase it as you build your resilience.

If you feel you have to do something to manage your anxiety then focus on activities that physically as well as mentally engage you, such as painting or playing an instrument. Social media and video games can put you in a passive, consumption mode that suppresses your emotions.

Activities that involve creation can help redirect your energy. Painting, playing an instrument, and writing may also act as a means of release for your emotions. The idea is that you let yourself experience the emotion instead of ignoring it.

Listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Anxiety can be a sign that something is not working in your life. Take the time to reflect. Dig deep, since the source of the anxiety may not be what is most obvious.

Address the underlying issue instead of trying to mask it. Running from the problem only makes it more difficult to deal with later on.

We all want others to understand what we are going through. Empathy can make it easier to bear difficult emotions and situations. However, not all of us have the benefit of having someone who understands our fears and responses.

Relying on others to understand can lead to more anxiety if you don’t get the response you are hoping for. This can result in another loop or downward spiral, where you tell yourself that you shouldn’t be feeling what you do and end up more anxious in the process.

Not everyone will understand what you are going through and that’s okay because you don’t understand what everyone else is going through either. There is no way of truly knowing what someone else is experiencing unless you are them. At the end of the day, only you know everything you have been through and are thinking.

Only you can truly reflect on your life and figure out the source of your anxiety.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t accept help or advice. You should definitely be open to feedback from others. Seek help from professionals or other trusted individuals if you have the means. They can help you sort through your emotions and figure things out.

Getting help from others can be great if you have that opportunity. You should not, however, depend other’s praise and approval or let them dictate your own feelings and sense of self worth.

Treat yourself how you want to be treated. Don’t expect others to give you the comfort or acceptance that you aren’t willing to give yourself. Take the initiative.

If you struggle with people pleasing, then you may want to separate yourself from others for a period of time. Let yourself experience your emotions in solitude without outside influence.

Not all anxiety comes from yourself. Some of it can come from being around others who are stressed. Particularly sensitive individuals may be more susceptible to pick up the emotions and moods of those around them. Give yourself the space to breathe and work through your emotions.

Give yourself the validation you need by accepting your emotions rather than waiting for someone else.

To manage or recover from anxiety you need to change something in your life. It doesn’t automatically go away on its own.

That change may come from being in a different environment or by incorporating breathing techniques, meditation or other practices. Or, you may need to stop habits that are contributing to your anxiety.

The information provided in this article is not meant to constitute medical advice. It’s the information that worked for someone like me who has experienced anxiety for most of their life. The only way to manage that persistent, nagging worry is to stop denying yourself the right to experience it.

Stop shaming yourself or turning to media or other people to find approval, comfort, and relief. Your body is sending you a signal and the only way to quiet it is to listen.

Give your body the attention it deserves. It works hard to keep you alive so that you are able to consume articles like this and other content. Take the time to take care of it and build up your resilience. Most people are far stronger and more capable than they believe.

Next time you feel anxious and are tempted to ignore it, give yourself the time to experience it instead. Accept the validity of your feelings. They have value and so do you.

By stopping the habits that fuel your anxiety you stop letting your fears control you. With that regained sense of control and self-reliance you can spend more time living your life than just trying to get by.

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