Saturday, December 24, 2011

Transforming Anxiety

"The more original a human being is, the deeper is their anxiety"
Soren Kierkeggaard

"Large numbers of modern people seem to live fearlessly because they lack imagination. They suffer from an impoverishment of the heart. Total freedom from anxiety is the inner expression of a profound loss of personal freedom."
Karl Jaspers

"Our capacity for dealing with symbols and meanings, and for changing behavior on the basis of these processes - all are processes which are intertwined with our capacity to experience anxiety."
Rollo May

Anxiety is not something to be eliminated, but rather to be is not only a necessary component to normal emotional functioning, it also provides a rough and ready measure of our capacity for feeling and expressing all the other emotions.
1. Try to think critically about the things that are making you anxious, consider your anxiety as a challenge to help resolve some of the uncertainity of your life
2. Write about your anxiety - a written description transforms a feeling (an emotion) into words and deprives that feeling of its privileged access and control
3. Between anxiety episodes, stop concentrating on how you're feeling - shift the focus from what you are feeling to what you are doing
4. Learn to repress your anxious thoughts as anxiety feeds on our internal fantasies in which we rehearse all the things that can possibly go wrong (repression is not an inauthentic way of shielding oneself from the totality of an anxiety-inducing experience, but an effective coping style)
5. Adopt regular routines (not the same as rituals)...the goal is to take control of your anxiety, rather than allowing it to control you
6. Stick to priorities during times of heightened anxiety...remember the brain is constantly renewing itself and changing its "programming" based on your thoughts, attitudes and actions (so if you want to reduce the level of anxiety, act as if you've already accomplished your goal)
7. Avoid too much free time as it can be the breeding ground for anxiety...yet compulsive work is perhaps the most common way in America of allaying is one of the handiest ways of relieving anxiety and it can easily become compulsive
8. Try to maintain perspective...when you are anxious, you are focused on internal events, on the narcissistic world inside your head
9. Turn to family, friends, or colleagues when you are feeling your concerns and give others a chance to respond...isolation can increase our anxiety because when we are alone our fantasies escape the correction provided by another person's perspective
10. Make some form of exercise a regular part of your routine..anxiety includes a large motion component and we can have a hard time sitting still...exercise provides an outlet for that inner sense of restlessness

Highlighted by O'Steven from Poe's Heart and the Mountain Climber - Exploring the Effect of Anxiety on Our Brains and Our Culture
by Richard Restak, M.D.

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