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Anxiety

by
William Stone RN MSN CNS

Overview

     Anxiety is the most common mental health problem for Americans. It is even more common in people with a life threatening condition such as heart disease. Sufferers often feel that they are trapped in a scary world that they can't control. But effective treatments are available, it's just a matter of finding something that works for you.
     Many of the treatments for anxiety are the same as those for depression. For example, antidepressant medications are often helpful for anxiety disorders. Depression is often related to the past (bad things happened, and there is no reason to expect things to get better). Anxiety is apprehension about the future. Both conditions involve a disconnection from our innate energy and power. Depressed people can't seem to find energy to do anything, and anxious people seem to consume too much of their energy with worrying. Our goal is learning to reconnect with our energy and power so that we can use it effectively in the present moment.
     Problems such as anxiety and depression have a structure or pattern that keeps them in place. Anything that we can do to dissolve the structure will open possibilities for new patterns of connecting with our own power. Making funny faces at yourself in the mirror may be an effective technique for you. Other techniques such as "energy tapping" are specifically designed to stimulate the bodymind to reset old patterns.
     Facing your fear directly and openly is an important step in overcoming anxiety. Gather whatever support you need, and begin to allow yourself to do this. Anxiety is not a weakness to be hidden. Holding it inside gives it a place to loom large in the darkness. Talking with someone about your fears brings them out into the light of day where they don't seem as big. You may discover that you are not the only one who is afraid of dying. Even death can be cut down to size when we reconnect with our innate energy.
     There are countless ways to overcome anxiety. Many types of relaxation and breathing exercises can be used to bring a calm that makes room for more positive patterns of thinking and being. If there is much discomfort, medication can relieve unnecessary pain while you are learning ways to form new patterns. The best time to start working on your anxiety is right now. Don't wait until you feel a little better. Take control of your life by starting today.

The Calming Breath

1. Take a deep breath, filling first your lower lungs, then your upper lungs.
2. Slowly exhale, saying "relax" (or a similar word) under your breath.
3. Let your muscles go limp and warm; loosen your face and jaw muscles.
4. Remain in this "resting" position physically and mentally for a few seconds, or for a couple of natural breaths.

(From R. Reid Wilson's book Don't Panic, HarperCollins, NY 1996)