Lessons on Living with Anxiety

 

 

Have you discovered that your aches and pains get worse during times of stress?

I found it fascinating that I could put on a backpack and hike Big Sur for 10 miles, but when encountered with a high stress situation at my job {that I didn't love}, my upper back and shoulder pain was unbearable.

Being ever curious about the psycho social and psycho emotional pieces, I've taken a deep dive into studying these things and how they affect our human experience.

I think we all have some kind of anxiety. It’s straight up hard to be in this world.

The thing is, when we have pain, it's because the body is intelligent - and our emotions are another kind of intelligence.

Sometimes we notice they’re related.  

When things are unpleasant, reactivity happens, it’s in our nature. Being wise and knowing this, now we can develop simple strategies for working with anxiety.

 

Neutrality

It’s useful to have breaks from the pain, {yes distraction counts, as long as it's skillful}. Sayadaw U Tejaniya said we should have 70/30 mindfulness to reactivity before we can explore what’s going on with the discomfort. In other words, if there’s not enough mindfulness present, all these other things will be running the show. Always keep one finger on pulse of resistance.

Have a go-to for freakout moments where you're not trying to figure anything out or fix it.

When my pain {and the freakout about the pain} was so intense, I had to create an anchor of neutrality each time I got home, and throughout the day whenever I could! I would lay down on my back with my knees bent or legs up on the couch seat, close my eyes and breathe. Even when panicking and tense, it did something for my mind.

Once the body feels somewhat safe, then we can take time to expand sensitivity to other sensory experiences. The nagging sensation is loud, but what about the non-pain? Can we appreciate that we don’t have a toothache right now? Or how about that left little toe that actually feels alright?

Other strategies for your neutral/pleasant counterpoint to the anxiety:

  • Write a thank you note in your phone. {If you use Aura, the mindfulness meditation app for stress & anxiety, there’s a quick spot for this when you open the app}.

  • Meditate. {Download Aura for free and sign up to my newsletter below for audio meditations to help you through this}.

  • Do a random act of kindness.

  • Take a walk in nature.

 

In and Out

When we have physical, mental, or emotional pain it doesn’t have to be a monoblock, like a chunk of something bad. 

I usually want to sum it up and call it overwhelm in general. I also want to uncover what’s causing it at the root, so I have to be willing to disassemble it in my mind.

One way that I've learned to modulate discomfort is by moving into a painful sensation and going back out - like dipping into a hot bath.

We can ask ourselves how big is this discomfort? Where does it stop? What are the kinds of thoughts that orbit around it? We can explore THE EDGES of the pain in this way, and then come back to something neutral.

In and out.

When inhaling, let it be a time of relaxation and drawing in of life force. When exhaling, explore THE EDGE of where the pain arises. Instead of plunging into the center of pain, trying to deny or aggressively push, it is far more effective to circumvent pain by using the surrounding areas. These areas may have built up psychological armor over time in order to protect their vulnerable core.

If you want more specific methods for meeting and investigating stress and anxiety, subscribe below.

This is your time, if you're open to it, I'd love to help. 

 

Lauren Ziegler, RYT500, is a Yoga Therapy practitioner fueled by personal experience {read more here} She has 1000+ hours training plus clinical hours in pain and stress management. She helps people with aches, injuries and serious chronic pain.