I frequently struggle with bouts of severe anxiety. One of my (usually effective) coping strategies is to distract myself, but lately I have found that tuning into the anxiety helps as well.
At first glance, that sounds counterproductive. You’d think tuning into the anxiety would just feed it, right?
Sure, sometimes that’s the case. I often have to talk my “anxiety brain” down from viewing every difficult situation as an emergency, a threat, or a catastrophe. But other times, the anxiety has valuable information to impart to me, just as my transient self-harm urges do.
If I tune into my anxiety, it can give me clues as to why it’s happening, and in turn those clues can provide me with an emotional compass of sorts. Maybe my anxiety is a sign that I need to detach from a particularly fraught social situation, or make changes in the way I structure my day. Maybe it’s a clarion call for more attention to self-care, or a push to ask for help.
Interestingly, when I look inward and go through this process of discernment, the anxiety actually abates because its root causes are being attended to. Assigning the anxiety a purpose helps to calm it.
Does this always work? Nope. There are some days when free-floating, inexplicable anxiety grips me, and those days are, quite frankly, just going to suck. But the days when I’m capable of tuning in to it are a real blessing.
Want to receive more updates from me, including an exclusive short story? Sign up for my email newsletter here.