Anyone else feel anxious? Given the current state of our reality, I am assuming that question would be met with a resounding “YES.”
So, what is anxiety anyway? Anxiety can be defined as a feeling of nervousness, worry or unease, typically about a future event or a situation with an uncertain outcome. Although uncomfortable, the purpose of anxiety is important and can often be helpful. Our experience of anxiety is natural and exists to alert us about possible future threats that might require a heightened state of vigilance. Anxiety can also act as a motivator, helping us to get out of bed in the morning or complete a task that’s been hanging over our head. But, when we notice anxiety persisting throughout our day, even when the possibility of threat has passed, it might be time for an emotional tune-up.
First, let’s review what anxiety feels like for most people. In addition to a sense of unease, there are also tell-tale physical symptoms that can alert us that we might be feeling anxious. For example, we might have an increase heart rate, sweaty palms, shortness of breath or even indigestion. One client of mine described her anxiety as feeling like her stomach was “a bowl of slithering, oiled eels.” Eek! And, also quite an accurate description, if you ask me.
Next, here are a few ideas on how to cope with feelings of anxiety. I selected these specific strategies because not only are they quick and effective, they are easy for parents to teach to their kiddos.
Name It to Tame It
Identify and acknowledge the presence of your anxiety. Once identified, we are better able to explore the source of our anxiety and determine if the perceived threat is real. Remember, our feelings are not always accurate representations of our current reality.
Observation vs. Participation
We so often get carried away by emotions, especially ones that feel intense or overwhelming. When this happens, it’s easy to lose sight of what is really going on. Think of it this way: Your intense anxiety might feel like a terrible storm on the surface of the sea. Instead of thrashing around up there trying to stay afloat, sink down underneath where the water is calm and just observe all the activity at the surface of the water.
Be Your Own Coach
When feelings of anxiety are high, you can coach yourself through with encouraging statements, or reminders that intense emotions won’t last forever.
It’s important as parents that we stay in touch with our emotional well-being and health. Our children thrive in environments where they feel secure and safe. And, because they are like little emotional sponges, if we seem to be feeling anxious, our kids will feel it, too.