Everyone seems to experience anxiety differently. Although the most common symptoms include fleeting thoughts, a state of hypervigilance and fear, not feeling grounded.
Fritz Perls, the founder of Gestalt therapy, describes anxiety as ‘excitement without breath’. At first, I couldn’t make a link between my (perceived) negative experience of anxiety with the word ‘excitement’. It took me some time to realise that ‘excitement’ brings the element of the future - the expectations and hopes; what it is not in the present.
When anxious, I find myself unable to connect with the present - the here and now. I am in a state of anticipation of what can happen. Being aware of my racing thoughts and physical discomfort - I find myself unaccepting of the present. In addition, I notice in myself how my breath becomes shallow and my eyes move around the room, following the fast pace of my mind.
I am aware of how anxiety might unnoticeably become part of oneself’s ‘natural’ state of being. A form of living life. With the mind in the future, fearing every step, every challenge, every sign of not being in control. And perhaps there is a sense of: the faster I move, the faster the present will vanish.
Slowing down doesn’t seem like an option. I may stop moving but my mind is still working so hard that my body resents it through a sense of exhaustion.
Searching for ways to support myself - these are the top techniques that I recommend and that have worked for me:
To find a comfortable position where my feet are heavily grounded on the floor - and to connect with my physical experience, with the possibility of feeling rooted.
To slow down my breathing. To bring my breathing to my belly and listen to it softly for a few minutes. To notice how my heart pace might slow down.
With kindness, I try to become aware of my feelings and needs by becoming the silent observer of my racing thoughts.
To find a way of externalising my thoughts and feelings. I usually practice yoga, dance or I journal - you might want to be creative with this one and do something that suits you!
To find a supportive and accepting environment that feels safe. Therapy can be highly supportive when facing anxiety.
Ultimately, everyone experiences anxiety in their lives. Happy smiles and fun experiences seems to be the main focus on social media but the truth is that the ups and downs of life are inevitable. Anxiety is natural and there are ways of coping with it.