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What is Anxiety (and Can You Really Do Anything about it)?

Anxiety is a state…a state of of fear, worry, uneasiness of the mind, apprehension, and/or dread about future possibilities. Because it is a state, it can lead to being stuck…once it starts, that state can be very difficult to get out of.

Anxiety causes a lot of problems for the person who is experiencing it.  The symptoms are varied, depending on the level of anxiety being experienced. It can be accompanied by physical symptoms as well as purely emotional ones.


For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume that, if you suffer from anxiety, that you have seen a doctor…that any physical or biological potential causes of it have been ruled out.

That means that causes (including but not limited to) such as allergies, environmental factors, sensitivities, blood sugar issues, nutritional shortfalls  and/or celiac disease have been examined by a medical professional.

Low Level Anxiety

Low level anxiety is a state that is always hovering in the background.  Even when things are going well in your life, there is that niggling feeling in the back of your mind.

It is the feeling of being anxious, no matter what.  It never rises to the level where it causes any major problems. Yet, it affects the ability to go forward and live your life to the fullest of its potential.

Here are a few practices that are effective in taming low level anxiety.

This type of anxiety can be calmed by a daily practice of visualization…a meditation if you will…if you can imagine yourself in a place of peace and safety and if you can bring calming feelings into that visualization…doing it twice daily, for a minimum of 15 minutes…it can work wonders.

Increase the levels of the feel good neuro transmitters in your brain by exercising and deep breathing.  The increased oxygen to the brain helps to stimulate the feel good chemicals and endorphins in your brain. When you have more feel good endorphins, you feel happier and the anxiety diminishes.

Progressive relaxation is a type of calming exercise that works well.  You start at the top of your head, tense muscles, and then release them.  Continue until you reach the bottom of your feet.  As you progress from the top of your body to the bottom, remember to breathe deeply. While you do this, imagine that you are descending down a staircase…and when you are finished…visualize yourself standing at the bottom of the staircase and give yourself a mental pat on the back.

Eliminate the negativity in your self talk in order to lessen anxiety.  When you are listening to a constant stream of negative chatter in your head, it causes you to feel anxious. Switch the channel and think of something else…keep a list of all of the positive aspects of you and keep it with you…read it when the negative chatter starts.

Panic Attacks

While it might seem that a panic attack can strike out of the blue, it usually happens when a person has been under a period of prolonged stress.  In essence, it is the straw that broke the camels back.  One more thing happened, and it could have been a seemingly minor event, and boom….you are tripped over into a full blown panic attack.

The problem with the anxiety that is triggered during one of these attacks is that it is overwhelming. When you are in full fight or flight response, there are some things that you can do.

  • Remember that appearances are deceiving…you actually are in control. 
  • Mentally take a step back from the problem and the anxiety.
  • Tell yourself “Stop”.  Remind yourself that panic attacks do not last forever and that you will not die. Imagine that it is 15 minutes past the attack.  Look back to now and see that everything is okay. 
  • SLOW  your breathing down to its normal rate. Focus. It is very important to do this. 
  • Whether you know it or not, there is a picture in your mind, a story that you are telling yourself.  Be aware of it and make that movie that is playing into a still picture.
  • Turn the lights down; make it dark, so that you can’t see the details.  If you can’t turn the movie into a still, then slooowwwwww it down, make it like a slow motion movie with the voices all distorted…you know what that sounds like, don’t you?

The key issue here is to break the loop that causes the anxiety panic attack…the mind likes patterns and it likes habits.  Break it…that weakens it…break it again…it gets weaker still…until finally, there isn’t any point to doing it anymore, is there?

Do not strive for perfection…strive to have that anxiety state be a little bit less, then a little bit lesser than that…until it just disappears…forever…lost out there in a dark, black void.

When you know that you are the one in charge of your mind and your thoughts, you become empowered.  So know it…tell anxiety to take a back seat, you have a life to live.

“Drive your own life…you deserve to, don’t you?”  Sherie Venner

Image Credit: Stuart Miles

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I am a Relationship Coach who helps others create happy, healthy, loving relationships…including the relationship they have with themselves…by breaking through those blocks and barriers to success. I use various techniques gathered through training as a Master Practitioner of NLP, timeline, hypnosis and common sense gathered through life experience.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rob Hodgins February 17, 2012, 7:23 am

    Great advice! We can’t control what we encounter outside of ourselves. But, when the outside triggers anxiety inside, it is very good to follow the steps outlined here.

    Thanks Sherie!

    • Sherie February 17, 2012, 1:47 pm

      Thanks, Rob!

  • Tamara M February 16, 2012, 5:12 am

    I used to do something like progressive relaxation to get to sleep when I was younger–saying goodnight to each body part. Think I’ll try the technique next time I feel anxious. Thanks!

    • Sherie February 16, 2012, 11:13 am

      It is a wonderful technique. Give it a go and see what happens! Thanks so much for commenting, Tamara!