I read four words recently that affected me more than I expected them to. “Imagine yourself without anxiety.” I was reading “Anxiety Relief for Teens” by Regine Galanti. I’m always looking for strategies to help the kids and teens navigate their way through life. I like to practice grounding and mindfulness techniques with them to help them live happily in this increasingly stressful world. I’m often too busy worrying about how others are feeling I forget to check in with myself.
Imagine Yourself Without Anxiety
I read those four words, “Imagine yourself without anxiety” and I immediately felt a weight lifting. My constantly churning stomach calmed, my tight chest began to relax, my breathing slowed, my headache eased and I felt carefree and happy for a moment.
I wanted to cry as I imagined how life would be different without anxiety. I can’t change the past and all that anxiety has previously prevented me from doing, but I could change the future.
When it’s affected you for years, you just begin to think it’s normal to always assume that the worst is going to happen. I tell myself not to worry until it happens, but I can never stop my body’s involuntary responses even though I hate having a constantly “worried belly”. I know some people suffer a lot more with anxiety and I really feel for them. So I think that’s why I felt I don’t deserve to think about and work on easing mine. But if anything is going to make me feel healthier and happier, it’s definitely worth a try.
I can’t change the worries of life, but I can change how I deal with them. Reading these four words hasn’t magically cured my anxiety and made me worry-free. However, these words have given me the motivation to think about my own anxiety, to realise it’s not something I have to resign myself to, and to work on myself alongside arming my children with strategies.
It reminds me of the oxygen mask on a plane analogy. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to “put your oxygen mask on first,” before helping others. We naturally find this concept difficult, especially when thinking about our own children. Our instinct is to help them, to save them first.
But this is an important rule for ensuring survival. Because if you run out of oxygen yourself, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. Or put more simply: if you fall unconscious you can’t help anyone else.
Another important note to remember is that managing our own stress is the best way to prevent children from picking up our anxiety.
I’ve been guilty of trying to treat the symptom, rather than the cause. I practice grounding techniques during panic attacks and relaxing techniques after, but I never think about preventing them. It just seemed inevitable that they happen to me.
I’m also aware that “good” anxiety is needed to keep us alive. I know that it’s natural to feel anxious in a genuinely scary and dangerous situation. But it’s not natural to feel constantly anxious. We’re so used to it, it begins to feel that way, but when we stop and imagine how life could be without anxiety, it’s a joyful wake-up call.
I’m only one chapter into this book and it’s given me hope. I’ll try and share other tips along the way as writing them helps consolidate it for myself too.
Do you constantly feel worried or anxious? Have you imagined yourself without anxiety- what did it look and feel like?
If you have any books or techniques you’d recommend to cope with anxiety please comment below.
Anxiety Relief for Teens by Regine Galanti, PhD
Anxiety Relief for Teens by Regine Galanti, PhD is available for £9.99 from Amazon (this is an Affiliate link).