It is extremely common for people to sometimes feel a part of them being scared, anxious or panicky. This can sometimes be noticed in the body with physical sensations like a racing heart beat, a tightening in the chest or stomach, having difficulty breathing, feeling fidgety or restless or some other way.
Some other times this can be noticed more subtly by one's system feeling revved up, thoughts and worries running in circles under an otherwise calm exterior. Often these anxious states have their root in traumatic or otherwise difficult experiences of the past. In a way it's like the body now remembers what it felt like to be on edge, always on the lookout for danger or in a state of high alert.
If any of this sounds familiar and you would be interested in finding some relief for these symptoms of anxiety, here are a few ideas that you mind find helpful.
Externalising the anxious part
One of the best ways I have found to start to create some separation from one's anxiety and for being able to help it better is to externalise it in a visual way.
When I feel a part of me being anxious or scared, I picture it in my mind's eye and I try to reassure it. A little supportive inner communication goes a long way.
Using breathing to give some relief to one's anxiety
Longer out breaths are calming for the nervous system. Try breathing out fully, then breathing in for a count of two and breathing out for a count of four, six or longer. You would need to do this for two or three minutes or more to start to feel some benefit.
I have written other blog articles on using the breath for anxiety relief or you check out a video on how to breathe with a longer out breath or about ocean breathing.
Using the body for anxiety relief
Noticing physical sensations can be an asset if your anxious parts become triggered. One way to do it is by placing a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly (an exercise borrowed from Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Pat Ogden, 2014) and breathing in this way for a little while. How does the anxious feeling react to this physical gesture? Is it comforting? Neutral? Does it get better?
Another physical intervention to try is to stand with your back against a wall and bend forward. Then noticing what changes as you stay in this position for a minute or so.
Counselling or Therapy for Anxiety
The ideas in this article might be helpful to have more tools to cope with anxious feelings.
If you would like to get some more long term treatment to go to the root of the anxious feeling and to heal this more permanently and deeply, then trauma informed integrative psychotherapy might be able to offer some additional relief.
In my experience there are often very good reasons why parts of us have learnt to be anxious. Whilst absolutely normal to get impatient with one's anxiety and to want to get rid of it, getting curious about all parts with the intent to support them and to make them feel better does, arguably, tend to achieve better results.
Picture by Radu Florin on Unsplash