How To Grow Through Anxiety — Not Just Survive It Or Cope With It

Thanks for image from Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

What can I do about my ANXIETY?

As more and more of us are isolated and locked down in our homes, anxiety (the anticipation of a dreadful future) and it’s bedfellows worry (ongoing hum of anxious thoughts) and fear (a valid response to the present threat) are forces begging to be reckoned with ~ as soon as possible.

Anxiety is useful advisor

but a terrible master.

This could not be more true in these times of pandemic, as literally billions of people — regardless of race, age, intelligence and wealth— experience more terror and dread all throughout the day.

So, how do we turn our anxiety into more useful

states of being like clarity, calm and courage?

Let Us Start By Understanding Anxiety…

Photo by Rohan Makhecha on Unsplash
Photo by Isreal Palacio — on Unsplash

Anxiety cannot be gotten rid of.

It can only be transformed.

Dealt with in the right way, anxiety either shifts up or down.

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

I am fully awake and aware of all the risks.

I am doing all I can.

The rest is out of my hands.

In this state of mind and experience in the body, we are able to learn from our past mistakes and success. And we are ready to be creative and improvise as new developments emerge.

Photo by Chris Slupski on Unsplash

“Fear is just excitement,

without the breath.”

~ Fritz Perls

Sounds hopeful, right?

The Two Most Common Ways We Make Anxiety Much Worse

Imagine a spectrum of ways to respond to fear.

Reaction #1 : DENIAL

Pic thanks to Bari Abikar — unsplash

Reaction #2: FULL PANIC MODE

Pic thanks to Hello i m nik on Unsplash

Why are panic and denial so common?

Remember “World War Z”?

How do we stop the reactive swinging back and forth?

And how do we come to grips with and harness our anxiety for good?

3 Levels of Response to Fear:

There are three levels of response (not reaction) to fear.

Image by David Jurasek (made on Canva)
Image by David Jurasek (made on Canva)
  1. Sleeping more — our nervous system needs a lot of rest to repair!
  2. Getting outside — being in the sun (I was vitamin D deficient) and walking.
  3. A good friend — nothing more powerful to help us feel accepted and less alone when feeling “crazy”.
  4. Crisis Helplines — when all else fails and panic sets in, a calm and grounded voice can provide an anchor in the storm.
Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash
Image by David Jurasek (made on Canva)

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…”

I discovered some mastery over my fear — no longer its slave.

Photo by Michael Amadeus on Unsplash
Image by David Jurasek (made on Canva)
Image by David Jurasek (made on Canva)
  1. All emotions — when fully experienced and processed in the body — naturally evolve from negative into much more positive states.
  2. Our conscious mind often gets in the way of this natural process (hence the need to engage with the body’s own wisdom directly).
  • SOMATIC EXPERIENCING: Peter Levine (author of Waking The Tiger) is one of the pioneers of body based treatments with this (one of my favourite) approaches. It is based on the understanding of how our nervous system heals and repairs itself — awakening our innate ability to heal and grow.
  • BODY PSYCHOTHERAPIES and INTEGRATIVE therapies: There are specific approaches out there such as the Creative Arts Therapies, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Body Psychotherapy while others fall under the more general umbrella of “integrative” and “trauma informed”.

3 Considerations with Psychotherapy

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

1. It can be quite expensive…

Securing any trained guidance that is truly helping us grow through and beyond anxiety is an investment in our growth ~ something I count as priceless in the ways it has made my life better and helped me to love and care for others.

2. It can feel slow…

Even though body-based therapies are (in my experience) more powerful and quicker than many conventional therapies which may only teach cognitive and coping strategies, it will still take more time than most people wish.

3. It doesn’t always work…

Although psychotherapy has a great track record in relation to meds and others approaches, for various reasons, seeing even the most renown and skilled therapist is not a guarantee you will get results.

Alternative Approaches

Photo by Anupam Mahapatra on Unsplash
  • Dance — as a way to learn to move more naturally and with grace, courage and calm.
  • Yoga — as a way to release tensions and develop new patterns of health and vitality.
  • Martial Arts — as a way to confront many fears and evolve our responses.
  • Massage — not only receiving to support the body but also learning to give to those we love (ie: Thai Yoga Massage)
  • Ayahuasca — read this journalist’s experience and if interested, best to research and find people worthy of trust to do this with.

Last but not least, a way to transform fear asap…

One way to process fear and panic which I credit with saving my life 15 years ago is an approach called “Tapping” or EFT (Emotion Freedom Techniques)

Video made and owned by author — David Jurasek

Thank you for reading.

Please share any reflections below…

…especially on what has helped you to grow through anxiety for us all to learn together!

Grateful Father, Husband, Therapist & Sensei

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