If you are feeling anxious, here are 10 things you could do to tone down the anxiety.
The first thing to do when you are feeling anxious is to bring awareness and attention to your body. Check in with your body to observe the bodily sensations that are showing up. The intention is to acknowledge and bring into conscious awareness as many of these bodily sensations as possible. If there is only one thing you take away from this post, it should be “stay with it”. By that, I mean that we stay with all the bodily sensations, feelings and emotions that show up when we feel anxious, without making an attempt to manipulate it.
- Bring your attention to your breathing. If you find that the breathing is shallow and faster than normal, just stay with it. Be an impartial observer and make no attempt to change it.
- Bring your attention to your heart-beat. It will most likely be faster than normal and you can potentially feel the “thump, thump, thump…” in your chest. Again, just observe the fast heartbeat without making an attempt to “bring it under control”.
- Bring your attention to your stomach and gut area. You will most likely be feeling a sense of unease and discomfort there. Bring that discomfoirt into your sphere of attention and stay with it.
- Bring your attention to the colon area (the area right above the anus). Check-in to see if you are feeling uncomfortable there. Stay with the sensation.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling anxious, keep lying down and do all the above,.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night and feel too anxious to continue lying down, get up. Sit in a crosslegged position on the floor (not on the bed) or sit erect on a chair. Close your eyes and bring into awareness all the bodily sensations. At the same time, do not reject the thoughts that are causing the anxiety in the first place. Stay with all that is happening. “Surf the wave”.
- As the anxiety comes on, watch your thoughts. Notice the thoughts swirling around your head, which is actually bringing on the anxiety. In a few seconds or even minutes, the mind will come up with counter arguments as to why these thoughts are irrational. Observe this duality in action.
- As the anxiety subsides, as it eventually will, maintain a clear sense of purpose of staying with all the emotions, feelings and bodily sensations, as they come up.
- If the anxiety came up in the middle of the night, and you did many or all of the things mentioned above, you will eventually feel sleepy. Go back to sleep. Its quite likely that you will sleep better now than you did before the anxiety came on.
- Do not judge yourself. Know that many people feel anxious, without being able to mitigate it effectively.