As I waited for my lovely new website, with the capability to blog, to be up; I felt some anxiety…. but, it was definitely anxiety with a small “a”, really more of an impatient anticipation. Anxiety (with a capital “A”) is that uncomfortable, and sometimes debilitating sensation experienced by so many folks these days. It can be felt in many ways, including extreme/uncontrollable worry, worry and fear without any real concrete reason, over-reactive fear, fear of an unknown or unspecific thing or free-floating fear. And, that is just a sampling of the emotional experiences. Anxiety is oppressive physically and cognitively. It may cause that hollow, sick feeling in the pit of the stomach, that fear sensation throughout the body (though nothing of particular fearfulness has happened). There is also that sense of agitation and restlessness or tension and tears that some feel. For others there is also difficulty concentrating, irritability, trouble making decisions, and just an overall sense of being immobilized. As if all that isn’t enough, it can all be amplified by the experience some have of difficulty sleeping or relaxing, coupled with appetite loss (or increased appetite for comfort food).
Pretty easy to see how the stress of anxiety causes us so many health, relationship and performance related problems — not to mention all of the awful emotional experiences described above. Sometimes our minds and bodies even react in the here and now as if they are experiencing terrible things that, in reality, aren’t happening now, or may not happen (or at least not in the unbearable way that the reaction might indicate). This trap of pre-experiencing and pre-remembering can suck the joy of life right out of you!
I’m here to encourage people that it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a lot of hope! In this post, I just wanted to share a tiny bit about a couple of very powerful tools that can help folks learn to manage ANXIETY, diminish it and find a better quality of life. Mindfulness practices, alone or combined with Cognitive Behavioral approaches, really help people take back their full potential for enjoyment, creativeness, peace and progress toward goals.
Cognitive Behavioral Thearpy (CBT) techniques help you be aware of unhelpful, dysfunctional and distorted thinking patterns — because these can take over our emotional state and behavioral choices in destructive ways. Mindfulness practices help us develop the ability to stay more centered in the actual here and now. In being in the present with what we are thinking, feeling and experiencing as it unfolds, we are better able to make choices about how to respond. Otherwise, I don’t know about you ; but, my natural tendency is to just keep reacting in the same old style, without awareness — in default mode. A fuller experience of what is unfolding, through greater focus on it, can add to enjoyment and appreciation — or understanding and compassion (including for ourselves). Developing self-compassion is an important facet of mindfulness that helps deter anxious over-reactions. Who doesn’t need that?
My friends, we cannot be happy except in the present. We may all have happy memories from the past, but even then; it is the thinking about it in the now that allows us to experience the happiness. We cannot experience happiness that future events may promise, in the present. Plus, sometimes the future is an anxious place to go — and the past may hold regrets or resentments.