So if I am not taking a pill to remove the anxiety, how do I deal with it when it comes? One of the biggest challenges in dealing with anxiety in a healthy way is knowing what to do when the anxiety comes. Keep in mind I am not a doctor or a counselor and this series is more of an informal expression of my experiences. I do not begin to think this will work for everyone, but my hope is that this will help someone.
In this post, I would like to address one practical way of dealing with anxiety. There is nothing magical about these methods, but I believe we look too hard for something miraculous when God has given us a brain to apply basic methodologies in dealing with stressful situations. The key is to understand the situations and learn to deal with the associated anxiety in a healthy manner. This post will deal with the idea of “Getting Outside of Your Head.”
Fear and anxiety is a tricky thing, but I believe that God has given us practical ways to combat fear and/or anxiety. If you think about anxiety and the fear that goes with it, you will soon realize that what you are experiencing is largely trapped inside the walls of your brain. One of these practical ways of dealing with anxiety is to get outside of your brain. The symptoms such as tapping your foot or checking a lock are the physical manifestations of what is going on the inside. In previous articles, I mentioned habits which I developed to accompany my anxiety. These habits and others are side effects of the anxiety itself. I hesitate to say these are ways to deal with the anxiety because they are reactionary in that they do not actually process the anxiety in a healthy way. What I want to get to is a way to actually process the event or situation which is at the root of an individual’s anxiety.
The feelings we experience when it comes to anxiety are a complex range of fears, emotions, and beliefs which we have developed over time. You might say you understand the fears and emotions part, but what do I mean when I say beliefs? I do not mean this in a philosophical manner, but the practical application of beliefs. We begin to believe certain things will happen given certain conditions. Specifically in someone with OCD(Obsessive-compulsive Disorder), we believe that if we do not check something, something bad will happen to us or those we love. If we are sensitive towards cleanliness, then we might believe if we do not clean our hands then something bad will happen to us.
These beliefs characterize a situation in one particular point of view. Typically this “view” is the worst case scenario. So how do we get outside our own head? I will not pretend I even know part of the ways to accomplish this, but I will give a few. One basic way to do this is by taking a walk or changing up your routine. Crazy, I know, this is so basic, but what does this have to do with anything? A part of getting outside of our brain is to see things as other people see them. To see things in a different way. To experience something different than you do in your typical day.
If you have ever flown on a plane then you can recall the way the buildings, trees, and cities get so small when you are in the air flying thousands of feet up. Suddenly, the city which was all encompassing, now seems so small. The vehicles and buildings now seem less significant. The things which you have been fearing may now seem somewhat smaller. Many refer to this experience as obtaining a birds-eye view.
If you can practically find a way to accomplish this, your fears do not disappear, but suddenly your life-experience is different. It is an incredible way to break up the monotony of fear or anxiety. It breaks the cycle of your routine enough to jar them loose. In a way, it gives your mind a break. I am not saying this is the end all, magic pill, because it is not. What does happen if done regularly, is provide your brain a place to escape. If you have ever experienced overwhelming anxiety or fear, you will know that this is something we all want in that moment. We seek a way to escape our anxiety or fear.