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Healing anxiety looks like...


Imagine this - you wake in the morning on your day off. You’re calm and centred and you feel completely at ease. Your body is relaxed, your mind is still, everything feels at peace. If you experience anxiety this may feel like a distant hope right now, I know it did for me. When I experienced my first panic attack my life went from busy and overachieving to a complete standstill. I was so overwhelmed by every physical and mental sensation of anxiety that it felt like I couldn’t function. I spent months mourning over who I used to be, and thought I would never get back to a place of calm ever again.


After months of fighting anxiety, I had almost admitted defeat. I thought this ‘fight or flight’ feeling was my future. That every day I would experience extreme anxiety and that was just who I was now. I started going to therapy to find a ‘way out’ and continued to be frustrated by the fact the act of going to therapy didn’t make me immediately feel better. Slowly I started to feel more and more like anxiety defined who I was.


But then I started to do things differently. I woke up one morning and thought I would try to see what I could find on mown for healing. I started to explore different ways of healing, and thats where I started to make strides.


This blog isn’t meant to be the list of everything and anything that can help you on your healing journey, but it is a compilation of the different practices I incorporated into my life that has helped me heal tremendously. Do I still experience symptoms of anxiety? Yes I do - but I no longer define them this way. They are simply bouts of increased adrenaline that remind me to take a step back and reflect on if I am meeting my own needs.


Now let’s dive into the reason why you’re reading this right now - let’s highlight the different ways you can take steps forward in your healing journey.

ONE: Recognize your thoughts/feelings throughout the day and how they impact your mood. All too often we may overlook the patterns that keep our cycle of anxiety fuelled. By bringing attention to these thoughts or feelings we can better begin to address them and help ourselves to move through them. One common one that we may all resonate with is that feelings of pushing away discomfort. Immediately when we feel anxiety coming we may turn to distraction to suppress that feelings all together. If this resonate with you, I encourage you to try and reflect on what you do to distract yourself and what that go to reaction is. This will help you move forward on your healing journey.

TWO: Practice sitting with anxiety when the moments above come on. Now that you’ve addressed these feelings, it can be helpful to begin to try sitting with them. At first this doesn’t need to be long at all. It simply needs to be an action of conscious awareness where you tune into sit with that feeling. What may help is first acknowledging that it’s there. Sometimes I would say ‘Hi anxiety, fancy seeing you here’ simply just to add bait of humour to an otherwise uncomfortable feeling. Now how long you sit with this feeling is up to you. But the goal is to slowly sit with it longer and longer. It’s going to be uncomfortable, and it’s important to recognize this is part of the process. We can’t change our reaction to this response without showing our bodies and minds that we are capable of getting though it.

THREE: Practicing self compassion. There are going to be difficult moments on your healing journey. There are going to be ups and downs, and flips and spins and many moments of uncertainty and unpredictability, but what can be incredibly valuable is how you see those moments. When anxiety gets loud, many of us let these moments begin to define us (me included) and this can create a lot of negative and judgemental self talk. When we begin to practice self compassion - we are better able to approach these moments with a soft and gentle attitude. Now this doesn’t mean we push away those feelings of frustration, actually the opposite. We see those feelings and actively choose to soften our approach. Dr Kiristin Neff does an amazing job and talking through different self compassion exercises, and I will link them here for you if you’d like to try some of her guided meditations out.

FOUR: Nervous system regulation. Now we have worked on addressing the in the moment emotional experience, but healing anxiety doesn’t only come from the practices that happen in the moment, they also come from what we do outside of those moments too. Many of us who experience anxiety have an underlying dysregulation in our nervous system favouring the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ side of things rather than the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ approach. This dysregulation can occur due to many reasons including growing up in a stressful environment (many stressors may be included here like financial difficulty, family conflict, etc) and may also include traumatic events that can impact how we live our lives. Finding ways to tap into the ‘rest and digest’ state is VITAL for wellbeing over all. I wrote an entire blog post on this topic and how to embrace that regulation (read more here), and I also have a 10 day nervous system reset course that helps you incorporate these practices into your day to day life (learn more here).


Healing is multifaceted, it’s unique, and when we learn to embrace it - it’s truly a beautifully imperfect journey.


I’ll leave you with this - instead of searching for the ‘answer’, that one thing you think will cure your anxiety. Try to reflect on the fact maybe there is no ‘answer’, maybe its simply learning to embrace the imperfect journey that is healing and slowing finding things out at you go.


I hope this was helpful for you.


Sending love,

Carly

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