Top Ten Tips: Anxiety tip #2 - Name it.
If you follow me on Instagram or on Facebook, you'll know I'm currently posting some simple tips on how to better manage your anxiety. Last week I posted Tip 1, which was about the importance of educating yourself on what's going on in your body when you are experiencing anxiety; today I'm posting Tip 2.
Following on from the first tip, Tip 2 is to NAME IT.
Too many people seek to eradicate their anxiety completely; they don't want to feel it AT ALL, so they grow to dread even saying the word or even talking about the things they find anxiety inducing. Let me tell you this: avoidance will only make your anxiety worse. Anxiety feeds on avoidance, so what you actually need to do is to confront the things that trigger your anxiety.
The first way you can do this is to accept and acknowledge your anxiety: CALL IT BY ITS NAME. Stop ignoring it. All of our emotions are there for a reason, even the uncomfortable ones. Evolution has deemed them useful and necessary, so we do ourselves more harm than good by hoping anxiety will just go away, or by hoping a magic pill will kill it for good.
If you accept and acknowledge your anxiety by saying 'I feel anxious about ...' or 'I'm feeling anxious because...' then you are validating the feeling and, from that point on, you can start to untangle the stress mess you're in and do the very thing your anxiety needs, which is to TAKE ACTION.
One caveat here is to give that anxiety the correct name. I feel anxiety is getting rather over-used and people are forgetting that they are host to a huge variety of emotions. Quite often, anxiety has its roots in unrequited emotions and feelings, such as anger frustration or confusion. Anxiety is an expression of fear, so try to be specific about the level of fear you are experiencing.
My suggestion here would be to write down a scale of emotions from 1 to 10 (1 being the least intense experience of that emotion and 10 being the most intense experience of that emotion) - see the example below. Doing this will help you to be more specific about the emotion you are experiencing and, therefore, the need that emotion has:
6. Fearful .... and so on...
Watch the video attached for more on how to engage constructively with your anxiety rather than ignoring it and making it worse.