Anxiety can be a crippling feeling. It can rise within us in waves, awakening tingling tension in the pit of our stomachs, trickling down our backs in a cold sweat, freezing our feet firmly to the ground, unable to move yet trembling from top to toe.
It can take hold seemingly out of nowhere, keeping us stuck, keeping us locked away, keeping us isolated.
I've personally known a life punctuated with panic attacks and I understand what it's like for those pinpricks of perturbation to entirely take over. I understand the overwhelming feeling of incapability, the convincing
current of 'can't' crippling any plans on the cards for the day.
And now I personally know a life without.
Anxiety now is exactly as it was intended all along - it's a feeling and I recognise it as such. Like tiredness, hunger or sadness; it's a signal. When we listen to these signals and respond, they don't take over. Hunger doesn't lead to starvation, tiredness not to exhaustion and anxiety not to full-blown panic attacks. We just need to learn to converse accordingly with them, to allow them share their message so we can respond rather than react.
As feeling anxious appears to be an increasing issue in our society I've felt compelled to answer that in many ways - probably in a comprehensive post complete with a list of all the many ways we can reduce it, de-stress, transform our relationship with it and finally overcome these feelings once and for all.
But in the process, nothing truly encapsulated the simple solution we need like the sentence 'Reassurance is the antidote to anxiety' which I was fortunate enough to hear at a group session a few years ago.
Reassurance is the antidote to anxiety.
This is it. Breathe it in. We don't need lists or to dive into the ins and outs and roundabouts of it. We need simplicity. One sentence, taken seriously in our lives can hold significantly more power in actually changing them than continually seeking the complicated, calculated, overanalysing approach.
So we've got it, here's our antidote:
I wouldn't be surprised if you're thinking that's not quite the answer we were looking for. But I promise, having tried and tested - this is what I stand by.
The word Antidote can be defined as:
- A medicine taken or given to counteract a particular poison.
- Something that counteracts an unpleasant feeling or situation.
Poison is such an apt word for this one. Our poison is fear's story that there's something wrong with us, that we're not good enough, that we don't have the confidence, the skills, the abilities to do well or measure up. It seeps within, polluting our veins and carrying its message throughout our bodies. Our self-esteem is on the floor; for some us, it's actually underground it's so low and we continue to criticise ourselves, we try to be perfect, we lose the capacity to be compassionate towards ourselves because we're constantly trying to prove that we're worth something.
But imagine if we were to speak to ourselves in encouraging tones, in kinder words, in a reassuring way.
As the quote goes; 'Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.' What if we were to take this personally and start with ourselves? Cut the criticism and increase the encouragement.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Our language and our words carry huge importance on our wellbeing. Thoughts create feelings so it's worth recognising that if we're thinking self-deprecating thoughts, we're ultimately perpetuating feelings of inferiority.
When I became more aware of my thinking, there was a time where I could literally see the potential outcomes of my thinking - 'I can't' was the precursor to panic and 'All is well' was my antidote.
Then it was just a matter of making the choice.
It's not okay to take on perpetual panicking as a personality trait; that's no way to live. We need to realise that if we want to embrace our happiest, healthiest lives, the harsh and desperate transcript we've become so accustomed to simply has to go. Becoming overwhelmed in anxiety isn't helping us achieve our goals and it never will.
So if you want to counteract the affliction of anxiety - find the means of reassurance that sit well with you and reaffirm them until you become fluent. Build yourself up instead of knocking yourself down. Speak to yourself as you would a scared child, soothe yourself as you would, give yourself what you would need.
Support, Empower and Encourage Yourself.
Watch your tone. Watch your language.
Watch how your reaction to anxiety begins to change.
And, please, repeat as necessary.
Photo by https://www.pexels.com/@kelvin809