I was thinking about anxiety this week.  I saw an article on how to combat anxiety and heard a podcast about anxiety as well.  All these things seemed to swirl together in the mélange of my meninges this week.  Felt like I should listen to the universe and write it down.

Caveat emptor – I’m not a licensed or even unlicensed doctor of any kind.  These are just my thoughts.  If you need help find a professional.

What is anxiety anyhow?  It’s a type of fear.  It is a fear that something bad is going to happen or that something bad is unresolved.  Waiting for that phone call or waiting to hear the results of a test are examples of that type of anxiety.

Like all the maladies of the mind there is a spectrum that runs from harmless nervousness to debilitating ‘anxiety syndrome’.

It is not a straight-line thing.  There are times in your life where your anxiety level is high and times when it is low.  In this sense, it can be a healthy, self-protective mechanism.  When it goes over the edge it can be debilitating.

What do the experts say about dealing with anxiety?

The first useful thing I heard was to not ignore it.  Unless it is quite mild you shouldn’t try to bury it.  We have a habit in today’s pop-psychology world to just pretend everything is ok.  If that doesn’t work we pretend harder.  That’s not the way to ameliorate anxiety.  It is better for you as a human to confront and understand the anxiety.

They suggest taking a hard look at the anxiety.  Rationally look at what it is that is making you anxious.  Is it something that is out of your control?  Is there anything you can do? Accept the anxiety for what it is. Take whatever steps you can.  Bring it into the room and look at it.  This is a process that can really be helped by talking it through with someone who is level-headed and mature.

The second thing they say to do is to try to practice gratitude.  Yes, you have this thing hanging over you but you also have many good things in your life that you can celebrate.  Maybe if you stack up all those good things that you are grateful for it will overshadow the tug of the anxiety.

What are you grateful for?

The third thing that you can do is to act.  I find that anxiety is most likely to creep in when you are waiting for something.  Think about it.  Waiting to pick up the phone and make that hard call? Waiting to walk on stage to present?  These are very anxious moments.

But once you are in the flow of the action that anxiety goes away.  That anxiety can be converted into energy by action.  A great question to ask is what action can I take to get myself out of this anxious situation?  What conversation can you have?  What can you do today that will remove anxiety in the future?

The fourth thing, and the suggestion I really liked, was to get and give hugs.  Hugs are clinically proven to release happy chemicals and relieve stress.  The article I was reading said 5 hugs a day is the prescribed amount.

A couple of important points on hugs.  Any mammal will do.  You can get the same happy chemicals from hugging your dog as you can from another human.  And you should hold it for a count of 20.  You should hold that hug to get the physiological response.

And even if this hugging thing is pure hokum, I don’t see how it could mess up anything!

Finally, my friends, I know that one of my god-sent cures for anxiety, and anger, and frustration, and almost every mental impediment to getting on with things is running.  Sure, it could be any endurance sport.  You have to love it.  You have to go and do it for a good hour.  Don’t bring the headphones.  Just let the thoughts scrabble around inside your skull like demented weasels.

I guarantee that at the end of that trail there will be order in the chaos.

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