by Refuge intern, Christine Gilbert
Anxiety can be consuming. Racing thoughts, tension in your body, or emotions you cannot control. Maybe there are times you find yourself thinking obsessively about the future—“What if I don’t get the job?” “How will I take care of my parents when they’re older?” “What if I don’t know anyone at the party this weekend?” Or the past—“What was I thinking when I agreed to go on that trip?” “I should have never said that.” “My boss probably thinks I’m not very good at my job.” Anxiety may be so consuming that you are convinced you are in real danger or even that you will just never be good enough.
Then your survival instincts take over. Maybe you experience physical symptoms of anxiety such as rapid heart rate or shortness of breath. There are many ways your body can respond to anxiety, and often the best way you know how to protect yourself is to simply shut down. You try your best not to feel anything and you avoid the things that make you anxious. The frustrating part is that most of the time these avoidance behaviors can make your anxiety even worse.
One great way to deal with anxiety is through a regular practice of relaxation or mindfulness. Mindfulness involves noticing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a new way. In mindfulness practice, nonjudgmental awareness is paired with self-compassion to form a new, healthier, coping skill for your anxiety. Once you begin to practice mindfulness, you may be able to challenge yourself by leaning into your anxiety in new ways. Eventually, mindfulness may enable you to discover just how much your anxiety has been limiting your choices and open a door to new freedom from those anxious thoughts.
If you struggle with anxiety in any form, the staff at The Refuge Center for Counseling would be honored to walk alongside you. Please visit us at www.therefugecenter.org or call us at 615.591.5262.
Reference: “The Mindful Way through Anxiety,” by Susan M. Orsillo & Lizabeth Roemer