Orlando Counseling Providing Anxiety Therapy
Your heart is pounding. Your mind is racing. Your mouth is dry. You have butterflies in your stomach. You feel pressured and rushed. You are caught up in the tidal wave of anxiety. When you feel it start to come, you think, “Not again!” and then a sense of dread comes over you.
As an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, I help my clients calm their anxious feelings using mindfulness. In this post, I will share some super simple mindfulness tools for soothing those overwhelming and uncomfortable feelings of anxiety.
When anxiety takes over, it’s like a tidal wave that roars through you. It takes over the way you think, what emotions you feel, and how you feel in your body. It feels like everything is swirling together in a tsunami of terrible feelings. Your thoughts get more intense, making your emotions more intense, all of which makes your body more tense. Then your tense body impacts your thoughts, and thus the raging rapids of anxiety ensues.
Start by noticing that anxiety is a constellation of experiences impacting your thoughts, emotions, and body. When you can stop and identify what is happening in your thoughts, emotions, and body, you can slow the rapids.
When you start to feel anxiety coming on, take a “snapshot” of your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations, so you can see what is happening.
Notice what type of thoughts you are having and how they are contributing to the raging river of anxiety. Your thoughts might be telling you things like, “You aren’t doing enough,” “You don’t fit in here.” or “You’re stupid.” Just notice what your thoughts are saying.
Dis-identify with your thoughts. What do I mean by that? You can’t believe every thought that goes through your head, as fact. Thoughts are just thoughts, mental activity. The mind is doing what the mind does, it thinks and talks internally. Once you give yourself a little distance from your thoughts, you can stop believing everything the mind says. Thoughts aren’t facts.
Notice what emotions you are feeling. Beyond anxiety, you might notice worry, edginess, or fear. Take an inventory of your emotional landscape that is contributing to the anxiety. Name the emotion or emotions. As Dr. Dan Siegel says, “Name it to tame it.”
Even though anxiety, worry, and edginess feel yucky, there is nothing inherently wrong or dangerous with having these emotions. Remind yourself that feelings are a normal part of being human and that the intensity will wax and wane. Whatever you are feeling right now will not last forever.
Notice how your body is responding to the anxiety. Many people describe a racing heart, shallow breath, a dry mouth, and tense muscles. Bring awareness to how your body is participating in the cycle of anxiety.
Once you notice what is happening in your body, shift it or do the opposite. If you notice you are holding your breath, take a nice long mindful inhale and exhale. If your mouth is dry, drink water. If you shoulder’s are tense and up by your ears, intentionally shift your posture and relax the tension.
Practice bringing mindful awareness to each of the thoughts and the emotions, as well as what is happening in your body. Which one is easiest for you to work with? Whatever comes more naturally to you, bring awareness to that one. Changing one part of the system changes the entire system. In other words, if all you can do is to notice what is happening in your body, that is enough to slow down the raging river.
When you can start to get a little a perspective on the thoughts you are thinking, the emotions you are feeling, and the body sensations you are having, little by little, anxiety becomes less overwhelming. And remember, thoughts aren’t facts and feelings aren’t forever.
Like any mindfulness practice, we get better over time. Make time each day to bring awareness to what is happening internally in your thoughts, emotions, and body. Becoming less identified with your thoughts and our emotions soothes anxious feelings because it is less overwhelming. Like anything you do, it takes practice. I encourage my clients that mindfulness will become an effective tool for soothing anxiety with practice.
In my next post, Discerning the Difference between Danger and Discomfort [a tool to calm anxiety], I will walk you through, step by step, a mindfulness practice that helps calm anxiety. In Anxiety? Use this Quick Tool to Tame the Runaway Train, I introduce a mindfulness practice I created called The NEST Method to soothe anxious feelings.
If you have more mindfulness tips for taming anxiety, please feel free to add them in the comments section!
Lauran is an anxiety and trauma therapist providing counseling in Orlando, FL. She also specializes in helping people heal old broken relationship patterns that keep them from finding, creating, and keeping healthy relationships with partners, friends, and family. Lauran uses a down to earth approach infused with cutting-edge therapies that go beyond traditional talking to help clients feel calm in their body and mind and find peace within themselves.