Labels – the more you give yourself, the more you’ll live within the boundaries they provide.
I hear many people adopting / accepting anxiety, owning it proudly without truly knowing the restrictive impact. “I suffer with anxiety”, “I have anxiety” etc. you get the idea.
What's the best thing to do in response to anxiety? I’ll explain in this article.
Lets start with the word anxiety.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, which is described in various ways, usually based around links and historic connections of personal feelings.
We all will experience feelings of anxiety at some point in our life, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.
What is happening?
When you feel anxious, your brain is telling you that you are in danger. In fact, it's telling you that you are in danger right at that very second and that you need to act immediately to keep yourself safe.
Because anxiety is uncomfortable, the natural reaction is to do something to make you feel better in that given moment. This is certainly understandable, because when you are anxious it feels urgent, important and necessary.
“Standing at the edge of a cliff, the anxiety felt encourages you to talk step back”
The problem is that even though this might work right now, it creates more anxiety later and usually with an additional emotional load.
“You do not go near cliffs”
Short-term avoidance of anxiety leads to long-term maintenance of anxiety. To put it in simple terms, when you do something to resolve anxiety, your brain learns that the thing it thought was dangerous and that the only reason you survived was because your brain gave you anxiety and you did something about it.
Ultimately you saved yourself.
In a nutshell you are educating yourself in effective ‘anxiety’, each time reinforcing the need to DO anxiety as it works in those given moments. The truth is that at times it does work but when it repeats itself daily it has a counter productive effect.
So what's the best thing to do in response to anxiety? It's deceptively simple: absolutely nothing.
The best thing to do when you feel anxious is to do nothing at all, about the anxiety or the perceived danger. Instead, move on with whatever you are actually doing. Don't even give the anxiety the time of day.
Be dismissive toward it.
This is of course very hard to do when your brain is screaming at you, that there's a really big, important danger right in front of you. But the good news is that if you consistently do nothing, your brain is actually really good at starting to filter out the anxiety noise.
When you attend to anxiety, it assumes the situation is really important and that you want it brought to your attention. So it brings it to your attention more in the future.
That is the art of doing nothing when you feel anxious. Try it out for a while and see what happens: when your brain makes you anxious and insists that it's really important and you must do something about it right away … see what happens if you just ignore it and get back to whatever you were actually doing in the present moment.
Redirect your attention towards something positive and fulfilling rather than the anxiety. Over time, if you do this consistently, your brain will start to filter the anxious content out.
If you need to work on your anxiety then book a one to one therapy session with me Benjamin Bonetti. More details can be found on the booking page.
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