Telling someone with anxiety that they need to 'relax', is like telling someone with a knot in their neck muscle to simply 'release it'. Once your mentality is that of tension, it is hard to know how to relax. Physically: We are a giant interconnected mass of energy, so that for example when you tense your little finger the ache can find its way up your arm, through your shoulder, neck, and cause a headache. You may think 'I have a headache.' and take an asprin. Failing to release the knots and strains caused by your tensed finger, this headache will undoubtedly return. What then? More strain is put on the muscles to compensate the initial strain, and your symptoms intensify and multiply. We carry this on until we forget that it was that little finger strain that began this episode, and now we carry years of symptoms along our journey with us.
This is how we need to look at anxiety. Where is my anxiety rooted? What is the purpose of this anxiety? The answer: There is no purpose to anxiety. It changes nothing except your ability to function healthily, and in turn becomes the strain that sets more strain into motion.
If you have been struggling with anxiety for years, chances are you may not be able to appropriately figure its roots. That is fine. What is the point of finding the roots anyway? To find a 'reason', something to blame or point a finger at? Subsequently, re-living old stresses and unpleasant memories trying to find this 'base for all anxiety' actually causes MORE strain and anxiety.
Ask yourself this question instead: What can I let go?
Can you let go of anger you felt for the man who cut you in line at the supermarket? In your mind, simply forgive him, wish him well, and move on.
Can you let go of the spare socks that you can not find the match for? Beyond that - can you let go of frustration and just laugh when you find the match a few days after throwing the first sock away? This is important! Laughter is the strongest army against anxiety.
Can you let go of perfection? If the pursuit of a perfect house, figure, yard, car, children, social media profile has you feeling guilt, stress and pressure, ask yourself if the end justifies the means. If not, go a little easier on yourself. Strive for better instead of perfect.
Can you let go of obligations? Are your weekends filled with things you have to attend? You can give yourself permission to send a gift or well wishes and skip the event so that you have the time to allow yourself to relax your body and mind.
Can you let go of unnecessary household items? Your brain is very complex and is constantly scanning its surroundings. If your home is full of 'stuff' the mind can not find a complacent moment of peace. Is there anything you can relieve yourself of in your home? Anything you can donate or throw away equals free time. The less you have to see, maintain, clean, put away; the more peaceful time you are awarding yourself in the future.
Eliminating stress and anxiety is not possible. Without stress we would not have calm. They are the two sides of the yin and the yang, and both are important. What IS possible is to calm your anxiety, and we do this piece by piece over periods of time. Once you start to let go, you'll find that letting go becomes addicting and with it you find a sense of peace.
TCE Good Reads for Anxiety:
Best of luck on your journey.