Anxiety is one of the worst feelings in the world. Whether it’s a generalised feeling of unease or a full-blown panic attack, it can be utterly debilitating and very difficult to manage once it takes hold.
What happens is our thoughts generate feelings of anxiety, fear and dread. These feelings then keep us locked into a kind of thought-emotion feedback loop. Because the body can’t distinguish between a real and an imagined threat, it releases the same stress chemicals it would in the case of, say, being chased through the jungle by a lion. Stuck in this fight or flight loop, the body is under continual stress and the adrenals and other systems become depleted. We not only become emotional wrecks, but physical wrecks too.
I’d like to share a very simple technique for dealing with anxiety that I discovered quite by chance but which have found to be remarkably effective.
It can be practised anywhere at any time of the day. All you need to do is take ten minutes where you can be alone and undisturbed. Heck you can even do this while enjoying a cup of tea (preferably decaf!). Set a timer on your phone, and perhaps play some soft calming music or nature sounds. Or try a playing a video like this:
Here’s the trick.
For ten minutes, all you have to do is simply RELAX, LET GO AND ACCEPT EVERYTHING EXACTLY AS IT IS. No resistance, no judgement and no attempt to change anything.
Anxiety is typically caused by the mind focusing on and trying to solve problems, whether real of imaginary (the ‘what ifs’ of life). For these ten minutes, you are not going to try to solve anything. You don’t need to fix the world, or your life, or anyone else’s. That’s not your job. You’re off the hook. Your job, for just ten minutes, is to relax and accept everything exactly as it is.
This may seem radical for some people. Look upon it as an experiment. Approach it with an attitude of curiosity and just see what happens.
The challenge is to accept every single part of reality as it is; and to cease trying to control anything. By letting go of this inner resistance to life, there’s a gradual but immense sense of release and relaxation.
Until the timer ends, your only job is to simply accept everything in the present moment as it is; including everything in your environment, and in your body and mind. If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress in the body, instead of resisting that, it has to be accepted and neither resisted nor held onto. The same goes for negative thoughts. Complete acceptance, and no resistance.
The relief when we cease resisting any part of our experience is immense. According to neuroscientists the stress hormones produced by the brain typically pass through our system and cease in only 90 seconds, as long as the brain isn’t continually producing more of the chemicals. This practise of completely letting go calms the nervous system and shifts the brain out of its focus on whatever has triggered the anxiety and back to the present moment.This simple form of mindfulness meditation is a very effective way of getting back in control of the brain rather than being controlled by it.
Give this a try and see how it works for you.