How do I get rid of my anxiety?
This is a question I get asked pretty regularly. When asked what goals clients want to set for therapy they often say, "I don't want to feel anxious...angry...sad...depressed anymore."
Unfortunately that is impossible. As humans were are designed to be emotional beings. Our emotions help us connect with others, warn us of danger, they even help us release energy. The problem comes when we let the emotions drive the bus. Think back to the last time you made a decision while you were in a highly emotional state. Was it an effective decision? Was it well thought out? How did that decision end up? Very often the decisions we make out of our emotional mind tend to be reactive, impulsive, and intense. This is called the "stress response".
Our brains have a finite amount of energy and the stress response takes a lot of energy to utilize. So, unfortunately when we are in our emotion mind, our thinking mind doesn't have enough juice to run, so it takes a back seat to the more intense reactionary processes of our fight or flight. Here's a short video that describes the two systems at play in our brain, the fast and the slow brain.
So you're probably wondering what this has to to with anxiety or emotions. Getting back to the point, we can't eliminate our emotions. In order to do that we'd have to damage certain parts of the brain and that would just cause a whole lot of problems. Many people try to numb or avoid their emotions, but have you ever noticed that your emotions are still there once the numbing wears off?
The ideal goal is to learn to cope with an manage your emotions as they come up. Our emotions can be compared to waves in the ocean. Sometimes they are small ripples that lap at the shore, other times they are tsunami's that bowl you over. The goal is to notice them and utilize skills that prevent you from getting knocked down. Some skills include grounding, deep breathing, distraction, and even just sitting with them.
Remember is takes practice to master a new skills, so I suggest practicing new skills daily for at least 3 weeks.