Anxiety and worry - how to deal with complex emotions

A few simple exercises to help overcome the anxiety and worry of the here and now, to restore emotional resources and interest in life.

Anxiety and worry - how to deal with complex emotions
Anxiety and worry - how to deal with complex emotions

A few simple exercises to help overcome the anxiety and worry of the "here and now", to restore emotional resources and interest in life.

  • features of anxiety;
  • ways to reformat negative feelings into a positive result;
  • how to cope with the state of uncertainty itself and help reduce stress in children;

What is anxiety and how does it occur?

First of all, it should be noted that there are two similar emotions that are often confused - anxiety and fear. But they are significantly different. Fear is what we feel right now as a reaction to what is happening, while anxiety is about past or future events that we are experiencing. For example, if you meet a bear in the woods, then you feel a real danger here and now - it's fear. And if you are going to the forest for berries, but you think that you can meet a bear, and it spoils your mood - it's anxiety.

We used to say that fear, anger, anxiety, etc. are negative emotions, something bad. However, in reality, these are normal feelings, they are important and useful for a person, like any other. Until a person is completely immersed in this anxiety, it becomes difficult for him to switch from thinking about the past or the future to the present moment, when he stops noticing that he is actually in a safe place and there is no threat. This is how anxiety arises.

Gradually, anxiety begins to control our lives so much that we cannot cope with it alone. The person is in a state of anxiety and, as if to get rid of this feeling, begins to struggle with it. So - even more worried.

However, I would like to emphasize once again: anxiety is an emotion inherent in all people without exception, regardless of profession, financial status, gender, age. Therefore, anxiety should not be fought, but "find a common language" so that it does not interfere with active life.

How can you "negotiate" with your anxiety?

For example, anxiety can be directed in a creative direction. If you are worried about a situation, imagine that you are already in it, and develop an action plan.

For example, with the onset of the pandemic, we all felt anxious. Instead, we now have a clear plan of action - to see a family doctor, do tests, monitor breathing. We already know that there are friends who will help, volunteers who are already doing tests quickly in almost all laboratories.

Anxiety is a marker: there may be some danger, but I have time to prepare for it or I have the opportunity to avoid it altogether. Then the anxiety subsides.

How to determine whether a person is "healthy" anxiety, whether it is worth seeking help?

We need to ask ourselves: is my main problem in life a feeling of anxiety and fear? If the answer is yes, it means that in 99% of such cases a person definitely needs the help of a specialist, and sometimes not one. I will explain.

Anxiety can cause a physiological response of the body - tremors of the extremities, trembling of the voice, rapid heartbeat, sweating, chills and more. If we worry constantly and uncontrollably, the body begins to malfunction, which can lead to serious health problems.

The quality of life changes, sleep may be disturbed (insomnia or constant lack of energy) and nutrition (a person consumes food uncontrollably or stops eating at all). Immunity falls, we constantly start to get sick of something. The consequences for the body can be different, in addition, we do not always correlate them with the internal level of anxiety.

So when we "catch ourselves" on the feeling of anxiety, fear and any emotions in general, we should monitor our physiological reactions to them. At first it may be difficult, but over time a person will begin to notice such manifestations faster, and therefore - to feel the moment when you need to go deeper into yourself, understand your feelings, get to the cause and react quickly.

However, you should not expect complex negative consequences to consult a specialist. This can be done at any time when you feel the need.

Are there any exercises that can be done here and now to reduce or get rid of anxiety at any time?

If we are not talking about clinical cases, but about everyday situations - how to pass exams, talk to management, resolve issues, agree, etc., then to relieve stress, you need to return to the moment "here and now".

Let me remind you that anxiety is living in the past or the future, so it is worth doing a few exercises, and the level of anxiety will decrease.

You can get up or sit down. Open your palms and put them on your knees (if we are sitting) or just lower them (if we are standing). The legs should be placed so that the feet are completely on the floor, do not cross.

In this position, you need to immerse yourself in your tactile sensations, "walk" with your inner gaze all over your body - from the crown to the heels. How do I feel right now? The stretch curls the hair on the top of the head, the eyes are a little tired (or maybe the eyes are closed and you feel the tickle of the eyelashes on the cheeks), the teeth are clenched, the neck is tense, the heart is beating faster. You can feel the touch of the air or the foot, feel the blood running with your fingers, cold or warm, and so on.

To return to the present moment, you can focus on the objects around you and describe them. Here it is - a laptop, it is black, has a smooth surface. You can describe textures, smells, tastes - anything.

You can hug yourself with your hands or wrap yourself in a blanket, thus defining the boundaries of your body and fully feeling them. In this way, we seem to create a cocoon of security for ourselves: I am here and now, there is no threat.

When performing these exercises, it is important to watch your breathing. When a person is in a state of anxiety, his breathing can be both shallow (as if holding my breath and not breathing fully) and accelerated. Therefore, you can do a few more exercises to restore productive breathing - take a deep breath, hold your breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly so that the exhalation lasts about twice as long as the inhale.

There are also various psychological exercises. For example, look at the door of the room you are in and say, "Look, there's a way out!" Or use any phrase that helps you maintain a positive state.

And it is important not to be ashamed to ask for help. Not when the state of anxiety determines your whole life, but when you are uncomfortable being left alone with your thoughts. Say, if you feel the need, sometimes - to cope with anxiety, it is enough that someone just listens to you.

 What is uncertainty and how can a person live with it?

In fact, our whole life consists of uncertainty. Even if we do not take into account global issues, none of us knows what will happen to him in 5 minutes, tomorrow, in a year, when he or she goes outside or enters the room.

But there is also good news - our psyche has historically adapted to a state of uncertainty. Therefore, most of us do not think about it every minute, and therefore, uncertainty in domestic matters does not cause concern.

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Imagine you are planning to cook dumplings for dinner, but you are not sure that your partner will like it. Or maybe it's better to cook soup? But will your children be delighted with this? So what do you cook to please everyone? These are also examples of uncertainty, but do we care so much about them?

However, when there are many such uncertainties, and they are global - pandemic, economic downturn, terrorism, downsizing - they have a cumulative effect, and it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with them. Anxiety appears.

On the other hand, uncertainty can provoke positive emotions - a premonition of pleasant changes. I was fired - I will find a new one, it will be interesting there, I will get a new experience, I will meet new people.

There is a concept of resilience - the ability of the individual to recover and continue to work even when things are not going as planned, to gain new experience, to experience these events. Educating this ability allows us to increase our stress resistance and experience uncertainty with the least loss to the individual.

To "pump" your resilience and tolerance for uncertainty, you need, again, to be attentive to yourself, your emotions and reactions to what is happening around. And it is worth remembering that this should be done when you are in a state of relative calm, because in a state of stress to analyze events and perceive information adequately can be difficult (depending on the person, some, on the contrary, it is in stress easy to accumulate and skills and adequate decision-making and action).

If emotions run high and it interferes with analysis, you need to reduce stress, and only then begin to analyze. For example, now I am stressed, anxious and difficult; my hands are shaking, shallow breathing and chills; all because in an hour I have an important exam that will determine whether I will enter the chosen university; if so, I will have a good profession and a profitable job; if not, then I may have such a plan.

When you "untwist" the chain of causes of your stress, the level of anxiety will decrease, you will be able to adequately perceive events.

We talked about adults, but how to help children experience anxiety and uncertainty?

Children have a very flexible psyche, which allows them to adapt to the environment much easier and faster than adults.

Yes, they often have states of anxiety and uncertainty: distance learning instead of the usual, 1st grade, transition to high school, change of school, and so on. However, if a child grows up in a friendly and loving family, he is able to experience these conditions on his own - unconsciously, through drawing, modeling, dancing, singing, playing and even running or jumping.

Of course, the attention of adults to the needs of the child is extremely important. After all, they help a child to form and grow emotional intelligence, which will be very useful to her over the years. We can analyze the child's condition and emotions and call her in words what she is feeling at the moment. This will teach her to be attentive to herself and understand her own emotions and needs.

And children need rest. I may say something seditious for the educational community, but if a child is overwhelmed, he has a feeling of anxiety, which can later turn into stress or neurosis. Give her a chance to relax - take an extra day off, come to the second or third lesson to sleep, do not do homework today, if you see that she does not have the strength.

With teenagers, on the one hand, it is easier, because with them you can already talk about emotions almost on an equal footing, and on the other - even more difficult. They have hormonal changes, first love,

Final exams and the belief that no one has ever encountered such problems. Parents are traditionally determined to successfully finish school and enter university, force them to study, remind them of future changes, and so on. Although teenagers, as well as younger students, need attention, care and extra rest.

And what can teachers do to reduce stress for children at school?

Remember how much of an adrenaline rush each of us had as a child when the teacher in class said, "Now we're getting double leaves." Today's children have the same.

By no means do I want to convey that I recommend for the teacher to give up their teaching methods and tools altogether, and I am well aware of the frantic workload each of them endures on a daily basis in the workplace. However, every teacher can reduce the level of stress for children in their lessons - less shouting, less punishment for unfinished homework (bad that I did not do, next time you will finish and show, I do not put two yet - it is quite acceptable for both parties), more attention and readiness for productive dialogue.

There are many examples of such new tools for communicating with students, and they really help to reduce anxiety, make the school atmosphere equal and calm for everyone.