Anxiety, tensions, panic anxiety, worrying, obsessive thoughts, all are difficult to control. Many times such feelings tend to overwhelm us and make us feel out of control. We wonder if we are ever going to be able to find a solution to these problems and “live a normal life.”

One of the reasons we have so much trouble attaining comfort and happiness is that we don’t even know what it is. We try to annihilate our anxiety and other disturbing thoughts, traumas, sadness, loneliness, and other difficulties hoping that his will help.

We confuse being happy with a life that has no feelings of anxiety, rage, doubt, anger, sadness, or problems. We want to numb ourselves from all problems with activity, chemicals, relationships, working hard, etc., so we won’t feel. We hope that if we “don’t talk about it; don’t think about it; don’t feel anything about it; and avoid doing anything at all possible costs,” then all the problem will go away. Research shows that diverting your attention away from the problem will only help for a while but it does not help in the long term.

Happiness is the ability to receive the pleasant without dependent, desperate, grasping, along with receiving the unpleasant without condemning. Anxiety and problems signal a time that something is changing. We need to look inside to ask what are we not facing, looking at, or avoiding. What are my symptoms trying to signal to me? Is an opportunity to change coming up that I must pay attention to?

Behavioral Solutions

Some specific behavioral solutions can help prevent a relapse into chronic anxiety and stress.

Learn relaxation techniques; have several types from quick short ones to longer ones where you allow yourself to learn to enjoy “letting go of control” and even resting comfortably. For seven days, set up a self-treatment program that will involve one-hour daily trainings in:

  1. Anxiety management
  2. Identification of “high-risk” situations
  3. Cognitive restructuring to confront irrational beliefs and thoughts
  4. Use of social supports

You first learn the various relaxation techniques and practice them in non-pressured settings, becoming more comfortable in using them. You identify the things that make you nervous and put them on a list of things. You then take each item and rate that item/problem on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most anxiety it causes you.

Start with the thing that is the least fearful or anxiety provoking to focus on – first imagining it while relaxing and later going out to the situation in real life. You will then allow yourself to feel all the anxiety, worry, upsets for one hour and remain in that situation. The concept of “flooding” your feelings so that it is overwhelming but you then get use to it is like circus ride where you finally get use to it and it is not so fearful.

For example, if you fear things, like dirty objects for fear of germs, you make sure that once a day you go around touching as many of those dirty objects as you can without washing or doing any other rituals, except quick relaxation techniques, until you no longer find it overwhelming. This is done each day for one hour for the full seven days. You then move on to the next thing you fear.

Remember, it can get worse before it gets better – that’s the idea! The support of a therapist, family and friends can make the difference.

Photo credit: Pixabay/TeroVesalainen