Perhaps one of the most common feelings that we experience every day is being anxious. In a world that constantly demands productivity regardless of any other current pressing stresses, it is easy to succumb to anxiety. Some of us however, may easily reject this hypothesis and claim that they don’t experience anxiety, but anxiety doesn’t have to exemplify the commonly associated symptoms of the more well-known Anxiety Disorder. As a matter of fact, being anxious is a normal emotion in response to a stressful situation. Something happens that we did not expect, an occurrence that we wish we had more control over, and we start to feel our hearts beating too fast, our pulse jumping, our breathing hiccupping, and our hands and feet becoming colder.
To those who suffer from the disorder, unfortunately, the feeling is worse: aside from the aforementioned typical emotions, feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness; a dry mouth; the inability to remain still or calm; sleeping problems, and more also manifest themselves. Because these symptoms can at times be serious for those suffering from anxiety, it bleeds over to everyday lives, interrupting daily functioning. Instead of being able to respond to the anxiety-inducing situation, anxiety sufferers are instead gripped with an intense feeling of panic and fear so that the feeling becomes worse.
But before anxiety becomes a full-blown disorder, the symptoms first start showing up one by one. While there may be cases that they can at times show up in one single instance, this doesn’t always have to be the disorder’s algorithm. In the midst of anxiety’s budding growth, one can ask yourself the question: what can we do in order to prevent anxiety?
Meditation is one of the more common forms of relaxation that is often associated with relieving stress and anxiety. It teaches discipline of the mind and being able to control or free one’s thoughts from the daily grind and exist in a time and space where everything can be let go. Meditation, in a way, is what I would like to call the practice of controlling the need for control, because when you think about it, the whole crux of meditation is to be able to allow yourself to not fixate on things and focus on the moment. Allowing yourselves to lose control but still be able to mindfully direct what you are doing. Sound confusing? Try a simple exercise. Take out a timer; one can easily be found in your phone or on your computer. Set it to 1 minute and in that 1 minute, close your eyes and try not to think of anything else except your breathing, in the way your chest rises and falls with each breath. Go ahead, try it.
Now, slowly open your eyes and take note of your surroundings. How did that feel? And be honest, I want you to answer this? On a scale of 1-10, how difficult was it to just focus on one thing at a time? 3, 4, 7?
If you have a mind like mine with a million things at a time, it’s probably an 8 or a 9. Meditation, especially for beginners with a messy brain, is one painstaking disciplinary exercise. But it’s a great way to give one some perspective on anxiety.
Ask yourself this: when you’re overcome with anxiety, what is it that really gives you the sense of panic? The many things that you have to do? Absolutely. But mostly, is it because everything seems to be spiraling out of your control?
Anxiety, in a way, is all about the need for us to be able to control the things that we have no control over. When things are beyond our control and it seems that we are helpless with it, it is not uncommon for us to be plagued with the feeling of helplessness and fear, which in turn can easily turn into anxiety. We, as humans, can have the tendency to want to control every aspect of our lives, and naturally, when that doesn’t go through as planned, we feel helpless and anxiety begins. Even when logic dictates the truth, often, emotion overwhelms our reason. That’s usual for us humans; we are, after all, emotional creatures.
But when anxiety happens, just like our brief meditation exercise, take a deep breath. Remember that while life can at times feel like it’s bombarding you in all directions, you have the option to slow down the pace for yourself. Find a quiet corner, away from the crowd and the noise, and take a deep breath. It can help to take out a piece of paper and write down all the issues that are overwhelming you from ascending or descending order and close your eyes. Take 5 minutes away from your worries and breathe.
And then, start conquering your anxieties. Work through your problems, and if there’s one that you can’t seem to work through, try to focus your energies in one specific problem one a time.
Distract yourself if you must. Let go of the need to control. And most of all, breathe.
By: Claire Cornelio, Anxiety In Teens Contributor