When you feel anxious about something, you may be undermining your productivity and wellness with:
Unhealthy Coping Strategies
Do you do any of these things?:
• Avoid the thing that makes you anxious. Avoiding these triggers can provide a temporary fix, but in the long-run this strategy leads to exhaustion, frustration, and even more headaches! In fact, the research is pretty clear: avoidance makes anxiety WORSE.
• Drink alcohol. Alcohol changes levels of serotonin and neurotransmitters in the brain, which can worsen anxiety. In fact, you may feel more anxious after the alcohol wears off. Alcohol-induced anxiety can last for several hours, or even for an entire day after drinking.
• Smoke cigarettes. Research into smoking and stress has shown that instead of helping people to relax, smoking actually increases anxiety and tension. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation so people smoke in the belief that it reduces stress and anxiety. But the effect wears off quickly, increasing anxiety and tension in the long run.
• Use marijuana. Research shows the THC in marijuana reduces anxiety at low doses, and increases anxiety at higher doses. In addition, that can lead to using other drugs, and so substance use disorders.
• Criticizing yourself (negative self-talk). Not helpful!
• When stressed, Driving fast in a car. Chewing your fingernails. Eating too much or too little or drinking a lot of coffee, all of these things will add stress and make you more anxious, unfortunately, after the initial surge of relief.
• Yelling, being aggressive or violent (to someone, or throwing or kicking something)- definitely counter-productive, adds more stress and anxiety, as well as a dose of guilt.
• Isolating – being anxious and stressed, you may retreat to your cave with a Do Not Disturb sign, and for a while, this helps. Long run, no.
Healthy Coping with Anxiety and Stress:
• meditate, get a massage, or learn relaxation techniques. Empatharian can teach you movement meditations, self-massage, and relaxation through breath, movement, and conscious focus. Stepping back from the problem helps clear your head.
• Eat well-balanced meals. Do not skip any meals. Do keep healthful, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
• Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
• Get enough sleep. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest.
• Exercise daily to help you feel good and maintain your health. Empatharian sessions of 20 minutes daily, plus walking/running/or other aerobic exercise 2 ½ hours a week.
• Take deep breaths. Inhale and exhale slowly. Empatharian teaches 3 breathing techniques for relaxation and also one for waking up.
• Count to 10 slowly. Repeat, and count to 20 if necessary. This works for children as well, as a method for anger management.
• Do your best. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get. All your efforts are on the way to what you want, and mistakes are some of the best learning opportunities.
• Accept that you cannot control everything. Put your stress in perspective: Is it really as bad as you think?
• Welcome humor. A good laugh goes a long way.
• Maintain a positive attitude. Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
• Get involved with Empatharian. Your practice generates energy for peace, both within you, and in the world. When you are making a difference with your effort and action, it feels good, you are more self-confident, assured, clear, and present.
• Learn what triggers your anxiety. Is it work, family, school, or something else you can identify? Write in a journal when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, and look for a pattern.
• Talk to someone. Tell your Empatharian talking circle or your facilitator that you’re feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. Talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
Transformational Coping with Anxiety and Stress
Empatharian is a simple practice that you do daily that reinforces your awareness of your connection to the source of life. By embodying your own values and intentions, you are able to amplify that source energy through your body, and through your life, ultimately. It takes about 45 days of practice to create a habit, but the good feelings are available in the moment as you do the practice daily.
When you are worrying about the future, you become anxious. If you can stay in the present, feel rooted to the past, but not driven by it, you are in a place of power, and anxiety doesn’t have much sway.
We can learn to think of the future with opportunity rather than doom, expecting that whatever happens we will be able to respond and be resilient. Doing Empatharian we practice reaching forward to our future, staying rooted in the present, and reaching back to the past and our ancestors for guidance and strength.
That connection between past and future is us, and our health, our heart, and our connection to others in the world. That connection is health and wholeness, and becomes a steady strength and inner attachment to that source of life, whose elixir we drink and grow stronger and stronger.
Anxiety becomes a curiosity, which is an indicator of something that needs attention, an energy for change. We are curious about this feeling in our stomach or our gut, and from where it might have arisen. When we have no attachment to the anxious feeling itself, we are able to communicate, to talk, to journal, to address the issue. And the anxiety, like an itch that’s been scratched, disappears when we address the source.
M. Scott Peck // ‘The energy required for the self-discipline of honesty is far less then the energy required for secretiveness. The more honest one is, the easier it is to continue being honest, just as the more lies one has told, the more necessary it is to lie again. By their openness, people dedicated to the truth live in the open, and through the exercise of their courage to live in the open, they become free from fear.’