I suffer from anxiety: I do not hide from it and I am honest about it. That does not make it any easier to live with! Of late, I will concede, I have on occasion let my anxiety get the better of me. I forgot the very simple strategy to dealing with anxiety that I have been using for the last 3 and a half years and was letting my anxiety, for want of a better term, win.
I did not even realise it was happening. That is a the scariest thing. After a couple of weeks feeling off I sat back and reflected on what I was doing differently and then discovered that I had not been going through my anxiety minimisation ritual / strategy. Now that I am back using this ritual I thought I would share it.
So, here is my strategy for dealing with anxiety or an anxious moment:
- When you are feeling anxious, assuming you can recognise it, stop what ever it is that you are doing and shut your eyes.
- Ask yourself: What is it that is making me anxious?
- Answer that question honestly and fulsomely.
- Then, ask yourself this question: Is there anything I can do about whatever is making anxious?
- If the answer to that question is yes then, if you can do what you need to do immediately, do it!
- If the answer to that question is yes but you can not do something about it immediately you have to allow yourself to let the thing making you anxious “go” until you can do something about it.
- If the answer to the question is no you can not do anything about that which is making you anxious then you have to allow yourself to let the thing making you anxious “go” permanently.
This is a simplistic approach I concede but mentally it is a ritual that helps calm me and help force me to think about whatever is making anxious rationally and clearly.
I find this ritual helps me immeasurably. It may not work for you but it certainly won’t hurt you to try. Just as importantly for me is making sure that where I have rituals that help calm my anxiety that I use them. Don’t forget your rituals people: they could be the difference between a good day and a bad one.
I believe this is a common technique, it’s mentioned more or less in one of my favourite books about happiness (Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell). Worry is more or less obsessive thinking about something, once you come to the realisation that thinking isn’t helping in any way and you can’t do anything about the problem then you can find some solace. Easier said that done though, sometimes I’ll catch myself worrying about something. Like thinking without consciously thinking if that makes sense.
Interesting. Quite similar to acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).