The Anxiety Peace Plan: How to Dissolve Anxiety
Most of the emotional habits we experience today we often developed as a child. We’ll get to anxiety in a moment, but for the first part, I invite you to read a short account about my childhood and how I grew up a v serious and tense girl (like many of you also, I’m sure). I have this distinct memory in my mind of when I went to Kumon (a tutoring program) every Tuesday after school, and every so often I’d have to do a maths test. I have always been a strong headed gal with high expectations on myself, so this one Tuesday I handed my test to the marker and remember feeling extremely worried and nervous about what my mark would come out to be. It wasn’t until the marker said “darling, you can relax now, the test is over,” and placed a gentle hand on my shoulders that I realised I had been holding them up to my ears for the past hour. At that moment, it was like a light switch went off above my head - I realised how incredibly anxious I had been.
So I let my shoulders drop, but this new feeling called relaxing felt weird, so I walked back to my desk to wait for my results and resumed tensing my shoulders again.
For years, I had no idea that being anxious was an abnormal state. And I’m sure you’re reading this and can also relate. The fact is, like many others, I was addicted to anxiety. On multiple occasions, I was told by my mum, friends or violin teacher to relax, but I would feel “too calm” or something felt off, so I’d just curl back up into my familiar safe-house of anxiety.
Now, is this really a thing? Can people be addicted to feeling anxious? Yes! Psychiatrist Harris Strayner of Mount Sinai School of Medicine states that:
People find comfort in anxiety because it is the state that they’ve always known and grown up with. If these people even feel a sense of calm, they get bored. They want to feel anxious!
Looking back, this is spot on with my relationship to anxiety. Although I am immensely grateful for the extracurricular activities my parents gave me the opportunity to do, learning the violin from the age of five, being in a rock climbing squad and studying with numerous tutoring companies with extra homework on top of school work meant that I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver (partly also due to my personality). I grew up anxious because nobody comes knocking on your door when you’re 10 saying “hey so, there’s this thing called anxiety. That’s what you’re feeling right now – and that’s not normal”. So we roll with it and grow up with it and it becomes our normal.
But one day I decided that enough was enough, and that I wasn't going to live with anxiety as my comfort anymore. So in the process, I’ve finally found a anxiety peace plan that helps me overcome it. It will help you 1) Identify if you’re addicted to anxiety for its familiarity, or if you’re having a one-off anxiety episode. 2) How to overcome it. Ready?
The Anxiety Peace Plan
1. Feel it
When you feel it coming, don’t resist it. Resisting anxiety only heightens it and makes it worse. REVEAL it to yourself and let yourself FEEL IT.
- THINK: Feel which areas of your body are feeling unease and negative feelings?
2. False alarm?
Ask yourself, is it a false alarm?
- YES, it's a false alarm: more often than not, when I do this I find my mind saying “oh actually there’s no fire, it was just a false alarm.” And this is purely because my brain literally could not find a sound reason for the anxious feeling. Most likely, you are just lingering in the safe-house of anxiety. Time to move out and move on to better feelings.
- NO, there's a reason for the alarm: you might be having a one-off episode. If feeling into the anxiety wasn’t enough, write down every single little thought that is making you anxious. Then, write ONE action step you can do to move forward. E.g This week I realised I had to re-do a video assignment for uni because I misinterpreted the task sheet. Even though I had already spent a good week on it and filmed and edited my clip! My one action step I wrote was e.g Contact my partner and asked her if we could set a time to re-film. Already, I felt better.
3. Let it go
Remember that it’s normal to not feel anxious, and that if it’s the haven that your mind has stayed in, to finally say GOODBYE and move on to better mindful places. Why would you stay in an old broken down house (anxiety) when you could be easily relaxing in your dream house (peace and strength)? On that note, picture your dream house – I picture miniamilist, white, timber, glass and indoor plants...
You now have an action plan, so you can let it go. For me, it made sense to let it go because after I scheduled a time with my project partner, I couldn’t do anything else to move forward apart from wait for Thursday morning to come along to re-film. So what good would it do to worry about it further?
Action when required, no procrastination allowed! Make sure you do your action step you write in step 2!
I hope this peace plan is useful for you, remember that practice will turn this plan into a habit that you can call upon whenever anxiety may arise.
FREE Anxiety Peace Plan Workbook
I'll be releasing a beautiful Anxiety Peace Plan workbook this Wednesday ! It's yours to download when you subscribe and gain access to the FREE bo-chic resource library, along with the other workbooks I've created. An email with the password will be sent to you as soon as you sign up!
Thank you for spending your time reading today, I hope that it gave you some insight to anxiety. Feel free to share it with a friend who may struggle with anxiety.