Stop Anxiety by Getting Ahead of It

I pull into my driveway at 7:13 p.m. after leaving for work almost exactly 12 hours earlier.  I feel the tension of wanting to rush in to be with my kids for a sliver of time before bed and needing space to just calmly, quietly end my day.  I choose the path of rush, grab my things and walk in the front door.

To say this is entering a battlefield is an understatement.  After the initial greetings and hugs is a barrage of stories to tell, complaints to hear, and needs to be met.  Even the dog wants my attention.  Everyone is talking at once and simultaneously getting angry at one another for not being quiet so they can talk uninterrupted.  There is a pile of shoes at my feet and lunchboxes scattered on the table.  (If you are a parent, you likely know this scene well.)

I notice my chest gets a distinct feeling of tension combined with my heart beating fast.

Let’s pause here: This was my body speaking to me, screaming to me, that the anxiety alarm was going off.  I had a choice: decide how to respond to what I noticed in my body or allow the dominos to fall and the emotions take over my thoughts and actions.  My body is trying to help me stop anxiety.

So often we get caught up in trying to change our thoughts and responses when we have anxiety, but in the process, we forget that our bodies were speaking to us before the thoughts even began.  Our thoughts will tell us something that might feel true but is not necessarily true.  Things like: I’m a horrible mother.  I can’t handle this.  I’m failing.  I won’t figure this out.  My friends don’t actually like me.  I’m behind everyone else my age.  I’m not doing things correctly. 

And so on, and so on, and so on.  

Our bodies, however, are speaking to us all the time, not with words but with sensations.  These sensations or physical feelings are usually trying to tell us something and it is often true.

In our example, my body was screaming at me to notice the sensory and energy overwhelm and do something to move back to a state of calm homeostasis.  If we can notice our anxiety when it is at this point, our likelihood of working towards responding in a positive way increases significantly.  

I challenge you to notice what your body is saying to you this week.  You can start by utilizing the journal prompt below:

Take one minute to find a calm quiet place.  Take three deep breaths.  Now slowly scan your body and notice where you feel tension, pain, numbness, relaxation, or any other sensation you have.  When you are done write down what you noticed.  Remember the goal is to notice, not fix.  You are simply gathering data to learn how to better hear what your body is saying.  Repeat this once a day or as many times as you can each week.  

If you found this helpful, please share it with a friend, subscribe to my newsletter, and follow me on Instagram for more helpful tips on your journey to better mental health.

If you live in Texas and are looking for a therapist to help you improve your anxiety, heal burnout, break through mental blocks, or guide you through a path to understanding your trauma, I am currently accepting clients for both virtual therapy in Texas and in-person therapy in Flower Mound.  I am EMDR Trained and utilize a variety of approaches to customize a plan that fits your needs best.  You can book a FREE 15-minute consultation here.