Anxiety and Your Body: Physical Steps for Emotional Relief
“Where do you think anxiety lives?
I ask this question to my clients a lot. I usually get a look like I have just asked the dumbest question possible. For the most part, I get the same response. A simple gesture to the head to communicate that anxiety lives in our minds. What comes next is always fun. I say, “no.” Then…I get another look. I get the “are you serious right now?” look. I’ll go on to explain to the client what I am about to explain to you.
Anxiety Lives in the Body
Anxiety may involve our thoughts, but the reality is that it takes hold in our bodies. Typically the anxiety response involves your brain determining (often incorrectly) that there is some sort of threat. Your brain then communicates to your body “OH NO! WE’RE IN DANGER!” and your body responds as it has been designed to. Your heart rate increases along with respiration. Perhaps your hands become sweaty. Your shoulders tighten all because your body is getting ready to head for the hills or defend itself.
Challenging Your Thoughts
This is a very common way of dealing with anxiety. Since your brain told your body that something is wrong, you need to check in on that and see if it’s true. Look around. If there is not a meteor heading for your house or a hungry tiger chilling in your kitchen, correct your brain. Acknowledge that there is no threat. Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious. Remind yourself that you are safe. Don’t let your brain lie to your body.
Activate Your Body
So, you have corrected your brain. That is good. Chances are, though, your body is still responding to the anxiety alarm bells. Make the conscious effort to relax the bod.
Drop your shoulders. Seriously. Force your shoulders to go lower. It will help you release the tension you are holding on to.
Relax your tongue. I know it sounds weird, but trust me. Relax your jaw and let your tongue rest at the bottom of your mouth.
Breathe slowly. This helps you get oxygen into your bloodstream which will override the anxiously fast breathing and help you relax.
Believe it or not, you have more control in these situations than you realize. These tips may not make your anxiety go away altogether. However, they do give you something to focus on when you are having an attack. At the very least, you don’t have to sit and let anxiety happen to you. You can fight back.
At Mind Works Counseling Services in Lubbock, TX we specialize in helping men understand how anxiety works in their minds and bodies.
Learn more about the Anxiety Counseling services we offer.
Contact us to schedule an appointment or to let us answer any questions you may have.