By Marcelline Menyie, MBACP
Anxiety can be a difficult feeling to manage and often makes it difficult for us to manage our day-to-day lives. Anxiety can be triggered by various factors in our lives, whether it be work, family or relationships.
A lot of events have occurred in the last few years that have triggered people to become more anxious. Today's world has impacted us to a point of fearing the future and managing uncertainty. Many of us have started to live in 'survival mode', in order to navigate ourselves through life.
What is survival mode? Survival mode is the art of doing what we can to get through the day, to complete tasks/goals and simply existing but not living. When in survival mode, we are not attuned with our emotions; they are negated as a way to protect ourselves, so that we can survive the day. Although helpful in some situations, survival mode is a temporary fix that does not eliminate the emotions we are carrying, one of them being anxiety.
It is important to firstly identify that anxiety is a normal feeling that we all experience. Anxiety becomes problematic when it impacts our day-to-day lives. Anxiety is a release from our body telling us that we are experiencing stress. Often symptoms of anxiety can be scary and trigger reactions of negating the feeling. This is how we can become anxious about our anxiety. We recognise that we are anxious, we feel uncomfortable, which heightens our anxiety, trapping us in an unhealthy cycle.
Normalising anxiety can be more useful than negating it. Our body responds to our experiences in life and it works the same way with anxiety. A good way of coping with anxiety is to become more attuned with it. The idea of sitting with that feeling, can allow us to identify the triggers and work with them, rather than against them. Working against your anxiety, can lead you to a state of panic- again, becoming anxious about your anxiety. Understanding that there will always be situations in life that will make us anxious is an important mindset to carry. It can be difficult to avoid anxiety provoking situations and in doing so, it can cause us to become withdrawn and isolated, these behaviours can trigger other mental health issues, causing us to feel stuck, as though we cannot overcome our difficulties.
There are various ways of managing anxiety; being individuals, there is no single fix that works for everyone. It can be a process of learning what tools and techniques work best for you. However, the main step to getting started is to sit with your emotions and normalise them. Difficult feelings can lead us to believe that what we are experiencing is not normal, leading us into a battle with ourselves, which can be unhelpful when overcoming mental health challenges.
Subsequently, we should work more on normalising anxiety and becoming more attuned with it. Once we master this, patterns of survival mode will reduce and stress will feel more manageable.