William Stone RN MSN CNS
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,