It becomes very difficult to be productive and solve problems in the state of anxiety, and yet this is the state most Americans live in whether they realize it or not. With the upcoming election in the U.S. and relentless stream of toxicity being pumped out from the media, there is a lot of anxiety being spread like wildfire. In general a lot of pain and suffering has always gone both noticed and unnoticed in our world, but it seems more people know what’s going on now than ever before, and it’s frightening as hell for them.
One of the things I learned in the battle with my greatest enemy (myself) in my very long struggle to overcome autoimmune illness, trauma and debility was that if I really paid attention to what my anxiety was telling me – if I somehow managed to push through layers of resistance in the forms of the menacing grip of heart-palpitations, constant nightmare and failing knees into that core space of what was truly going on…something amazing happened. I would reach a point of stillness. The searing pains in my body would cease, my heart rate would slow down, and I would become aware, not just of myself, but of everything around me in such a way that did not elicit reactions of fear and loathing. In this space, solutions would appear in my mind’s eye that were previously unavailable to me.
Sometimes this happened spontaneously but I wanted to figure out how to pull up this type of stillness anywhere at any time. And I won’t lie. It took me a very long time and lots of practice to acquire this skill, with many props, tools, meditations, and supplements along the way. However, I eventually came to the realization that I didn’t need the tools or supplements anymore (at least not on a regular basis) because whatever power I attributed to those things were already inside me, just as it is within all of us.
Here are 5 things I learned how to do when anxiety began to get the better of me. Whether the anxiety you feel is severe, mild, or free-floating, these suggestions will be relevant to your situation in some way and may help to achieve equanimity. There are many more things and activities that address anxiety but this is a simple list of actions that can produce quick results:
- Just pause – just stop whatever you’re doing for at least 2-5 minutes to observe your thoughts and breathing patterns without struggling to control them.
- Take several slow deep breaths, allowing the abdomen to naturally rise and fall.
- Simplify – simplify whatever you can afford to simplify right now whether it’s your thoughts, your living room, diet, schedule, any and all levels of sensory intake. Sign off from Facebook!
- Stay hydrated, as dehydration can exacerbate tension and anxiety. Warm water or non-caffeinated teas and beverages are best.
- Reach for a source of genuine affection, whether it’s a pet, lover, friend, or nature – whatever warms your heart, raises oxytocin, and reminds you that you are alive and loved, and that you are capable of loving.
Some situations are more serious and threatening than others, generating a nearly unavoidable kind of anxiety. However, the power to remain calm is always within. It is not awareness alone that enables one to achieve equanimity, but a certain kind of balance between openness and firmness. It is being open to life and information, but firm enough to know when to draw a boundary. It is a kind of discernment which eventually traces inward to the very worth of the Self.