Feeling a sense of urgency…shallow breathing…tension…muscle contraction…knotty stomach.
Anxiety can be described as feeling wired, “spazzed out,” contracted, or tightly wound. However you personally describe it, feeling anxiety is typically associated with unpleasantness.
As with all unpleasant sensations, we try and avoid them.
There are 2 strategies many of us use to manage anxiety:
When we are feeling anxious it can be very difficult to THINK ourselves into feeling better. Yet this can be the strategy we rely on. We try to “figure out” our feeling states and try to determine where they came from and whether or not they are valid. We may not understand why we are feeling the way we’re feeling.
Judgment can make things feel even more complicated (as in, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way. What’s wrong with me?”)
When we want the unsettling feeling of anxiety to go away we may reach for all sorts of things in an effort to numb or distract ourselves (drinking wine, eating sugar, overeating, binge eating, numbing ourselves with television or time on the computer, cramming our schedules with things to do).
Like the wise Maya Angelou says, “We do the best with what we know, and when we know better, we do better.” Amen Maya. Sometimes we just need to learn that there are actually BETTER strategies out there for us.
And I’ve got ONE for you today.
Instead of getting caught in an anxiety spiral and plopping down in front of the computer to eat cookies while you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, consider taking one of my favorite vitamins….
Vitamin M: Movement
Movement can help move stuck energy in the body. Many times anxiety is caused by resistance to an emotional energy that needs to move through you.
Movement can be active or passive. In other words, we can move or we can allow movement to happen.
Stepping outside for a comfortably paced walk and fresh air
Sprinting, Boxing, or High Intensity movement
Dancing to music
Using active movement to take the edge off anxiety has it’s benefits: releases feel-good endorphins, boosts immunity, relieves tension, improves digestion, releases excess cortisol, and increases confidence through empowered navigation of your emotional world. Think of active movement as as a strategy to clear out that “spazzy” anxious energy to create space for other helpful emotions and insights.
Importante: For a culture that tends to champion pushing ourselves more and more (often to the point of exhaustion,) we also need other ways to move emotional energy through the body that don’t necessary require high-intensity movement. These can be more gentle and compassionate (the real work for so many of us).
Rocking in a rocking chair
Laying on the floor with your knees bent and hands on belly, witnessing the movement of breathe in your body
Listening to music (allows us to “feel moved”)
Allowing the full physical sensation to move through the body
Massage or energy work
And a personal favorite: Having a big, snotty, curled-on-the-couch belly cry
Both active and passive movement can release bound emotional energy and create more SPACE for awareness.
“What do I need right now?”
Asking this question is a practice to come back to again and again. The answer changes. Many times I really do lay on my back and breathe straight into my belly. Other times…I need to move my body.
Music and dance has been an anchor for me for many years. I enjoy that it feels both active and passive. I physically move, but at times I also feel I am allowing that movement to happen. Think back to when YOU were a child or teenager. What was an anchor for you? What gave you access to feeling or expressing fully?
In the spirit of vulnerability, he’s a sneak peek at what happens when I ask myself, “What do I need right now?” and the answer is music and movement…
For more inspiration check this video out.
What about you? Are there any ways of moving that are almost guaranteed to create a positive shift within you? I want to know. Please share below.