Updated: Apr 21, 2019
What can we do when we get triggered into an anxious state of mind? The key word here is TRIGGER. And by the way, the following methods work equally well for anger or whatever our flavor of response to a trigger may be. I will share tools for working with anxiety in the moment as well as methods that work long-term. (If you suffer from serious panic attacks, I recommend you see a trained therapist for help.)
The hardest thing is to RECOGNIZE that we have just shifted from one state of consciousness (calm, focused, joyful, sad, …) into another one. To get better at this, I do recommend a regular meditation or mindfulness practice during which we compassionately (and without judgment) observe the chatter of our mind and recognize our quite often seemingly insane mental habits.
Once we become aware that we are anxious, we need to come up with the courage and wisdom to ACCEPT that this is what’s going on. By acknowledging that we are anxious, we take a huge step in the direction of shifting back into a more relaxed state because we naturally realize that there is the part of us that is anxious, and then there is the part of us that can recognize and observe this.
Then I recommend one of these two pathways:
Pay attention to your PHYSICAL SENSATIONS. Scan your body and simply notice your heart racing, your tight chest, your shallow breath, your tight throat, whatever it may be. Notice and stay with that sensation. Just allow it to be however it is in that moment, not wishing it to be any different than it is, not wishing it was gone, literally 100 percent permitting it to be as it presents itself. It’s not unlike being with the temper tantrum of a two year old. You will notice that, after some time, the sensations will shift and eventually go away on their own. You might have insights or emotions surface. Just notice them, and stay with your BODY.
The other method I like is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). Basically, you acknowledge how you feel and name it: “I’m really anxious right now.” “I’m freaking out.” “I’m so scared.” You can name some of the context, but acknowledging and voicing the EMOTION is the key. While you do this, you tap on specific points on your face and body (see chart above) that connect your conscious mind with your subconscious mind and thereby you release the charge or energy behind whatever you are experiencing. After a few rounds of doing this, you literally become neutral to the former trigger and usually feel quite yourself and calm. This doesn’t just alleviate the anxiety of the moment. It goes deeper and heals some (or even all) of the original wound.
Both of these can be done by yourself, however it is easier to have been guided by someone with experience in these emotional release techniques a few times.
Some people like to work with breath, like taking long, deep inhales while counting to 8, holding the breath while counting to 8, releasing the breath. I find that it can be quite helpful in the moment. However, it doesn’t have the additional therapeutic effect of actually letting go of the stored inner pain that is the reason why we experience anxiety in the first place.
Acupuncture (especially auricular Acupuncture) can be a fantastic healing modality for anxiety. I see a fair amount of people with PTSD in my practice and actually really like working with people with that pattern because I see such great results. I will often use Energy Healing and also Shamanic Healing as well, if necessary.
I’ll be real honest here: when triggered in any kind of unwanted mental and emotional state it takes a great amount of will and the courage to be vulnerable in order to work with it. We have to ask ourselves: are we willing to not go into outward blaming or inward shaming, or into victim-hood, but to take RESPONSIBILITY for how we feel and respond. No matter what painful experiences we have had, only we can decide no longer give them power over how we live our lives. We can learn how to let go and experience life from a different perspective.
With much love, Skye