In a previous post I talked about 25 Signs of Anxiety and how many people who suffer Anxiety don’t know it is Anxiety they suffer from.
In this post I will talk about the habits we often develop as a result of Anxiety, which can also help to identify Anxiety within oneself. These habits are natural in the presence of emotional pain. They are habits that temporarily relieve anxiety but that doesn’t serve us in the long run and often become unhealthy for our overall well-being. They are self-developed ‘Coping Mechanisms’ in the face of pain, but will often hold us back in life. As they are natural, it is important that we do not judge ourselves when we recognise in ourselves – most people who suffer Anxiety have them. Recoginsing these habits is important because it gives us the opportunity to look for other, constructive ways to overcome Anxiety. At the end of this post I will present such ways.
THE 4 HABITS OF ANXIETY:
1, Running from what’s inside.
This habit is common with ‘free-floating’ Anxiety, where there is an ever-present anxious feeling causing discomfort. When people with this type of Anxiety slow down, anxious feelings creeps up. This makes it very difficult to stop and to relax, so they keep themselves busy, all the time – running through life to avoid feelings of Anxiety. Despite keeping busy, there is often a sense of something lacking and dissatisfaction in life. Some people who run from what’s inside of them will go from relationship to relationship, or constantly move or change jobs. This rush into new external circumstances, environments and relationships does not fix the feeling inside and does not provide lasting relief.
This is avoiding situations that causes Anxiety. Not going to social events or family gatherings because how uncomfortable they are. Avoiding applying for jobs because of fear of going for an interview. Never speaking up because the attention from others causes intense discomfort. Avoiding traveling because a fear of flying. Avoiding buses and public transport because the lack of easy access to a bathroom. Avoiding crowds of people. Avoiding phone calls. Avoiding anything that could cause confrontation. Avoiding effort and challenge in fear of failure. As evident from these different scenarios, avoidance can really hold people back from many areas in life.
3, Numbing anxious feelings.
This is a way to control feelings by overlapping them. Overeating or eating large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates might be one of the most common ways people numb feelings. Using alcohol or other substances is another. Others will seek ‘highs’ by gambling or risk taking which gives them an adrenaline rush which numbs feelings. Self-numbing activities often causes a feeling of guilt creating more inner discomfort. With the added layer of discomfort, the only way out some people know of is by numbing themselves even more. So they resort to the same self-numbing activity over and over. A side from the chemical component of substances, this is the reason self-numbing habits often become addictions.
During a Panic Attack, distraction is one of the only ways out. Distraction is in fact a well-recommend coping mechanism during panic attacks; it helps the mind to get away from the feeling of panic and focus onto something else – after about minute the Panic Attack passes. However, when we continually use distraction as a way to cope with anxiety it becomes a habit of avoidance without lasting resolve that we become dependent on. An example would be using our Smart Phone to distract our mind to avoid feeling the knot in our stomach or discomfort when we are left alone. Another would be always wearing headphones among other people as way to distract oneself from feeling Social Anxiety. The use of excessive amounts of entertainment or constantly being engaged on Social Media is an other common way people distract themselves. Distracting ourselves clutters the mind and makes us forget about Anxiety for a while, but it also creates brain fog, makes us unfocused and detaches us from life.
The four habits above offer short-term relief, but does not get rid of Anxiety. Many will have these habits but still struggle to manage symptoms such as extreme tiredness, insomnia, feeling overwhelmed and experience flashbacks. Physical symptoms of Anxiety such as feeling dizziness, being short of breath, chest pain or heart palpitations are also hard to control with these habits.
What these habits have in common is that they are strategies to try get away from Anxiety. The driving force is resistance. It’s only natural that there is resistance, because Anxiety is unpleasant and painful. By human nature we try to avoid pain. However, resistance creates tension, and instead of being able to process and release anxious feelings, resistance makes Anxiety stick around for longer. “What we resist persists” – this is a law of the mind declared by the psychologist Carl Jung considered an unshakable truth by most psychotherapists today.
It helps a to know that no feelings in and of themselves can hurt us. By owning our painful feelings and accepting them, we can, paradoxically, transform them and release them. Acceptance, however unfamiliar we might be to the idea of it, is one of the most powerful ways to heal from Anxiety. Accepting Anxiety can still be very difficult. If we have never done it, we might not know where to begin. This is when it helps to reach out to someone who won’t judge us. By experiencing another persons acceptance of our difficult emotions we can begin to transform and learn to accept ourselves as well.
Another way to come to come to accept ourselves is through the practice Mindfulness Meditation. In Mindfulness Meditation we simply observe our feelings and thoughts without any judgement. This type of Meditation could almost be said to be synonymous to self-acceptance, and has been scientifically proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce feelings of Anxiety.
What help me overcome Anxiety was in part Mindfulness Meditation. But an even more effective method that helped me was an in-depth application of Tapping (sometimes referred to as Psycho-Sensory Techniques or Energy Psychology). This is a deceptively powerful and simple method that helped me uproot the cause of Anxiety on a subconscious level. I absolutely love this method and it is the one I use when I help people overcome Anxiety today.
Have hope! The mind is changeable, and with the right tools and support there are ways we can feel better. Many people with severe Anxiety have overcome it and live free from it today. It is possible to overcome Anxiety, not just forget about it for a while.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about Anxiety or the practice of Mindfulness Meditation or Tapping. I answer everyone who contacts me as soon as I am able to.
Change: With the Right Help It’s Possible!