Anxiety free - can it be childs play?
The anxiety free existence of small children never ceases to amaze me. When you watch young children play with paint they are totally engrossed. Not for them the worry of parental critical acclaim. They give themselves over to the moment fully experiencing its joys.
Yet we age and we put away childish things, our mind improves. We get better at anticipating the future. Unfortunately, with this skill we receive the gift of anxiety. It would seem we begin to live our lives in the future. Trying to anticipate what might happen, what others might think. Our anxiety helps build fear brick by brick and unless we challenge the construction, it becomes a wall, hard to get over or to knock down.
Looking forward can produce problems yet for some looking back causes anxiety. We recall moments our past that we feel we performed poorly. You replay the scene in your head, re-live the feelings of guilt and low self-worth, feeling anxious that you can trust yourself in the future.
Can we connect to some of that childlike existence and be carefree in the moment? Can we again experience life to the full? How to reduce the judgements of others to their proper place? How to keep control of anxiety?
Grounding techniques are an easy way to pull ourselves into the present moment when feeling anxious. There are different ones you might try. Research the one that works best for you. An effective one is: Notice five things that you can see, four things that you can hear, three smells that you like, recall two of your favourite tastes, and say one thing you like about yourself. This will help focus you into the present moment and away from the anxiety.
Controlling your breathing can make a big difference to anxiety. Take a moment to find a safe spot to sit. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Take time to listen to the sounds around you, with eyes closed. Perhaps it’s the sound of nature, or perhaps the traffic outside the window. Notice your body; observe any sensations within. Perhaps notice where it touches the chair. Now notice any thoughts you may have. Don’t try to do anything with them just notice that they are in your mind and gently push them aside. After five relaxing minutes, gradually become aware of the room and your breathing. When ready, open your eyes.
Unhelpful thoughts may arise. Try to challenge them, how likely are they to come true? Is there a more realistic thought? How does the more realistic thought make you feel? This process of connecting our thoughts to our felt sense can help us to control our emotions and anxiety.
These are simple ways to help connect us to the moment. They help us to be aware of what’s going on to control anxious situations. They lower our anxiety levels and give us a basis for being truly ourselves. You may find it easier to work through them with a counsellor.
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice, he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.