Breaking the Cycle of Anxiety
By Ashley Lamm, LPC, NCC
You are not alone
It is important to know if you do struggle with anxiety you are not alone. According to National Institute of Mental Health, “Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting close to 40 million adults.” Anxiety can present itself in many forms. It can affect your daily functioning, impede on your thought process, and it can take you away from feeling present or living in the moment. Those struggling with anxiety tend to avoid situations or social interactions. Sometimes even just the fear of the anxiety that creates more anxiety. Thus, we find ourselves in a negative thought cycle.
How do we break that cycle?
What is essential in processing your anxiety is acknowledging that it exists. What may help when you begin to feel anxious is naming your emotion and experience. Tell yourself “This is my anxiety controlling the moment, it does not have power”. This process can help defuse your thoughts which in turn will lessen the anxiety symptoms. Another helpful tool would be to incorporate breathing techniques to de escalate elevated heart rate or other symptoms you may be experiencing. Four Square Breathing is a breathing technique that is widely used due to its versatility in incorporating measured breaths, visualization, and distraction. Close your eyes, inhale through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, exhale through your mouth for four counts. Do this four times. While you are practicing your measured breaths, visualize drawing a square during each segment. You can find Four Square Breathing and a lot of other great breathing techniques here https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercises-for-anxiety .
Everything is Temporary
To steal a perspective from Buddhism, it can be helpful to remember that everything is temporary. Remember your emotions are not permanent. If you are struggling to combat anxiety, understand that it will subside and it will