Strategies to Keep Anxiety Away.
Updated: Mar 28
Once I was reading a book written by a very esteemed monk. In the book he mentions that we need to have certain strategies already in place to save ourselves from depression or panic attacks. Which I found very interesting and important at the same time. Over a period of time when anyone is suffering from depression or panic attack, its occurrence becomes very erratic and hyper fast. Anything can trigger the attack and make our life problematic, fear can creep in from anywhere. We should always have some strategies handy in order to save the pain and trauma. Here are some of the strategies I use, but you can add or delete whatever works for you. It's like employing a security guard, who will block the unauthorized entry of bad elements.
An important thing to remember here is that, whatever strategy you will apply or use, you have to give it a time. Sometimes you have to use a combination of strategies, sometimes only one will do the wonder. But they are effective in their own way, our thoughts don't stop, always running on autopilot and our emotions are completely based on our thoughts, so there's a continuous flux of feelings and emotions. This could lead to incidents where you will find yourself feeling anxious and panicked in a continuous fashion.
A strange thing about our emotions is that they feel so fresh and new, in reality they are exactly the same fear, but every time they come, makes it hard to handle them. But the good thing is every time you use these gatekeeper strategies, they will bring great results for you, bringing one step closer to longer ease and calm.
In my case my anxieties left me for 2 years, but they came back stronger, but now I'm much stronger in terms of handling them, now I just don't care much about these emotional influxes and fear they bring along. Which have reduced the intensity of my anxiety or panic to almost nil. Point being there will be a definite relief but it could take little bit of time and patience.
What we need to understand is we need to break this chain. Once you break the chain, things really go smooth after that and we become more conscious. What is affecting most of us the arising feelings or the sensations on the body, that is what we cannot handle. Any kind of thought will bring associated sensations or the feelings on the body and our inability to shake those feelings is the main reason for small small things changing into panic.
First we need to understand is that thoughts are very fluid, they jump from one point to other very quick, but every thought it generates feelings on the body, these feelings, they stay for longer time and hard to shake in short time, until we completely distance from them and stop personalizing them too much. Until we reach that mastery, feelings they do go away, but it might take time to distance them from ourselves.
So till the time they are there, they really make our life hell. A good understanding of how our system works will definitely reduce the impact of those feelings. What understanding are we talking here? Let us see this chain and how it works and what we need to do to break this chain? You can learn about this process in depth in the topic, why it's wise to observe thoughts, click here.
We have 6 sense doors. Any input on these sense doors results as an imprint(Identity) on our intelligence and makes or raises a memory. Based on these memories we produce sensations on the body. If the past memory is good for similar situations we generate pleasant sensations otherwise we generate unpleasant sensations. This link of sensations or the feelings is what we need to break. Now based on the output of these sensations we generate reactions. These reactions are the final output towards the signal we received.
Chain of How things happen:
Cognition(Input)> Recognition(Memory/Identity)> Sensations(pleasant/unpleasant)> Reaction.
We can't control the cognition, as we will see, smell, sense non stop, as its more dependent upon external factors. This recognition is a very crucial part, which we also call memory formation. This sometimes could be very biased and false. We form memory based on our identity like what we see around us, our upbringing, our family culture and society. Why our memory could be misleading us: For eg. 1. for some group of people rock music could be ecstasy and for some it could just simply be noise. 2. A group of people don't like consuming certain types of animal meat, while the other group loves it like anything. You see how we recognize things not based on their originality or truthfulness, but based on conditions which are personal to us. That's why certain things could stress some people while others are totally unaffected by them. Learn to Interrogate your fears, Click here.
Another thing to notice is that our mind and body are highly interconnected. The kind of thoughts you come up with, your body makes similar kinds of feelings. When we receive signal, it goes to our memory, which is formed based on our identity(highly personal and unwholesomeness). Our body now will generate sensations based on this memory, which is unpleasant in the case of people going through anxiety as their memory with that trigger is unpleasant.
Now how we deal with this issue is through our thoughts/Intellect, which is again not the whole in itself, as our thoughts are also just a gathering of what all we have gathered in our whole life so far, again incomplete. That is why we keep on rolling in our thoughts, because we do not know the way out.
So the way out is just this big understanding that the sensations which we are going through are false because the system which they are based on is highly incomplete. And we are just suffering our memory or our imagination because we are dealing with situations through thoughts.
The only way to make a system compete is bring this awareness into your body. So your memory which is based on your identity which is incomplete and false, so are the feelings arising through that channel. Once we change this the entire process will change.
Various Strategies to Keep Anxiety Away:
1. Accept the feeling or Observe your thoughts: Issue only starts when we start fighting our feelings, majorly it's the feeling of fear. See fear comes when you are not satisfied about some event in future. Its never about past or present. Fear is majorly because of our imagination about some event in future. Not we are not only making memory of bad sensations with fear, but worrying about something totally irrelevant. Believe me when that event will come, which you scared about, you will be present there to take care of it. And if its just an imagination then its not real to begin with anyways. Why worry about something unrealistic.
Don't fight the feeling, accept it and let it come, stop running away from the feelings. It is just a body's reaction to a negative thought. Don't get affected by these thoughts, they have no power on you. By fighting them we give them power which makes us only go deep into anxiety. What we do is, we retaliate to those thoughts, emotions or feelings by talking back to them, trying to convince ourselves something is wrong with me or indulging in conversation with ourselves and doubting our future. Instead of this we should accept these thoughts, it's like observing your thoughts and not reacting to them. We just finding solution through intellect, memory and Identity. But we should be choosing the 4th Intelligence which is awareness. Learn to choose the right intelligence, click here.
Do this exercise regularly, stop reacting to people by reducing your urge to answer and even replying back. Increase your listening skills and eventually you will see improvement in your own observing/acceptance skills and reduction in our passion to prove or show the power of superiority. Listening skills are just not towards others, but it's also toward yourself and your own thoughts, feelings and emotions. A good listener is a great observer, as you are reducing your reactions to fears and bad feelings.
2. Observe the thought: I have mentioned this before many times, over and over, another way of accepting a thought is observe the thought and stopping the feelings right before they rise up. The moment the thought begins, if you can't accept the thought then try to observe the thought. Just don't care about it, it will try to barge in forcefully, but the key is to observe. It's similar to sometimes ignoring the crying tantrums of a baby. Learn more about observing your thoughts click here.
3. Interrogating your Thoughts: Is always good to go to the base of the thoughts. Interrogate this fear, why and from where this thought is arising, what is the root cause of it, does the doubt which is starting this panic feeling has no solution? If there is a solution then tell yourself and believe me the solution will reduce the intensity of the anxiety.
4. Staying calm and Not getting Scared: What a panic attack will do is, it will make you restless and feel helpless. It will make you believe that there is no coming out of this helplessness, there is no hope and you are going to go crazy. In these moments calmness plays a very big role, staying patient and believing it's combinations of mental and physical reaction, which has just started because of some thoughts and is nothing more than that, recognizing how not to get carried away by emotions.
The experience of panic attack is very scary, but it's not difficult to maintain calmness during that period. Stay calm, this fear or panic has no power or base, it's just your thoughts. They can do any damage and affect you when you give in. Just stay calm and try to become as present in the moment as you can and based on the law of impermanence these feelings will go away straight.
5. Understanding mind: Happy thoughts never bother you, then why sad thoughts bother you. Two things to learn here, first don't get affected by thoughts take them as they are. Either negative or positive. Secondly, Also learning to give up is really easy, as it doesn't require much effort. Our mind loves failure and attention. For seeking others attention it will try to gain others sympathy and show others that you are suffering a lot.
If not trained well, the mind will always pick up dirt, as a human we are more prone to negative thoughts than positive. Train your mind to be positive always, do not run for attention, always make the right decision. Point is, negative makes us sad and makes our life miserable, train to be positive and look for positive. When anxious, the mind will think more negatives, the best remedy is to be fully aware and conscious and come live in the present even for a small time, till the feelings go away. Else mind will always make a small worry too big one.
6. One Step at a time: Fear becomes really big when we start to worry about the future, what will happen to me 5 years down the line, It's so hard to live right now, how will I take care of my family, so all the worries become humongous because we look deeply into the future and finds our inabilities of fulfilling the dream or finding the solution.
But in reality, everything happens in the present, today is all you have, when the future will come, even that will be called today and you will be present there. Don't go too much in the future, just stay in today and live today first. One step at a time. Our mind is like a committee of members with lots of voices, learn about to use it wisely, click here.
7. Get the Anchor for your mind: Night times are the most scary as you are alone and by yourselves. Too much fear, hormonal response of the body, too many thoughts all make it too hard to sleep, and inability to sleep certainly affects our peace. Now we have a new fear of not able to sleep when anxious.
So that's how fear works, it keeps on adding one over the other. Best way to take control of these fears is to be mindful and not think too much but rather finding an anchor for your agitated mind. Put your mind on your breath using meditation, walking meditation or reciting a mantra. What we are doing is giving our mind an anchor so that it doesn't get lost in the ocean of thoughts and lose its sanity.
8. Meditation: Learn meditation, do a course. Meditation teaches you about the value of your own thoughts, value of observation, how to be positive, how to let go of things and how not to fall in the trap of your mind. Meditation is really important for the ultimate peace you are looking for in your own life. Learn how to deal with suicidal feelings, click here.
9:Read positive books everyday: What's better than making your mind positive by reading something positive. Reading positive thoughts makes a big impact on our mind, not only these thoughts teach us about life from someone else's experience and perspective, but also takes some buildup steam off.
As someone has already gone through what we are going through and that experience of others can teach us a big valuable lesson. And who better understand thoughts than monks. Listen to what they are saying about living, thoughts, feelings and emotions. Implement those lessons in your life daily and all your issues will go away. Our mind is like a committee of people, we need to keep the power in the important members' hands.
10. Exposure Response Prevention: A major reason behind any anxiety is complusive thoughts. Same thoughts going in repetition over and over again. And one can understand how mind and body are connected. You feel what you think. This is also called OCD for thoughts or intrusive thoughts.
Do you know, just because you are thinking non stop, you have developed an OCD towards your thoughts. Your thoughts have gone highly intrusive and your response to those thoughts is hurting you the most. But you were not born with it, its with time you developed this behavior, which can be easily unwired with right training. That is called ERP training of mind.
You need to train your mind towards the harmlessness of your thought, by exposing your self to your trigger and then staying with your anxiety, till it drops around 50% and doing nothing, no reply back, no talk back, just be with your fear. This way you telling your mind, what you scared of is actually have no power. This will be hard in beginning, but its a long term solution towards your problem. Slowly mind will learn and will stop getting scared from those things. You can meet a certified professional for ERP under guidance or search on you tube for more.
Calm Mind Power
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