“Every difficulty in life presents us with an opportunity to turn inward and to invoke our own submerged inner resources. The trials we endure can and should introduce us to our strengths. […] Dig deeply. You possess strengths you might not realize you have. Find the right one. Use it.”
You are not alone in feeling anxious or dealing with Anxiety. Anxiety is something most of us have experienced at least once in our life and these are the blessed ones. Whether it’s public speaking, performance, zoom calls if you’re reading this in 2021 or even just a simple new responsibility in your life can trigger your anxiety. I know cause I’ve been there, it’s horrible. You want to just run away from all our problems and live in a sense of belonging like you did when you were a child being nurtured by your Mother and protected by your Father. The more you feel this feeling the more you will have a tendency to fall down the path of escapism.
Escapism occurs when you are trying to avoid something, it is synonymous with Anxiety. Whether you’d like to admit it or not. People tend to escape in many different forms, watching football, drinking alcohol, smoking weed without a purpose, emotional eating, sleeping not because your tired but because you’re feeling down and the most popular these days is watching netflix or playing video games. Some physically run away from their homes and migrate to a new place for a “Fresh Start”.
I don’t blame people. The world has been formed into a hammer that is beating down on fragile nails that we call the new age human. For example, socially shy people who stay away from public spots. People who stay put in passionless jobs because they are afraid to take a risk on something they enjoy that may pay less or the sheer thought of social status pressures of them leaving their comfortable jobs for uncertainty driven by passion and an eagerness to learn more. This is prevalent in the 1998 film “The Matrix”.
ESCAPING YOUR STRESS STATE IS THE FIRST STEP
I started this article with an Epictetus quote and i will give you another:
“Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person or that person, this challenge, this deed. Quit the evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in right now. You are not some disinterested bystander. Participate. Exert yourself.”
This is a strong sentiment of the Stoics philosophy. Do not look at what you can’t control, look within, and only focus on what you can control. If it is a presentation that you must deliver, don’t leave it to the last minute. Take pride in the development of knowledge and immerse yourself with a blank mind, try to think that all the information that is outside this presentation does not matter at this moment. Be still in breathe. Like Bruce Lee said; “No one can hurt you unless you allow him [it] to.”. For one that is prepared cannot be anxious.
I seem like i may be writing like a Guru but I am not. I’m as guilty of allowing my anxiety to take control as much as the next man however, I have just done more work than the next man in controlling this anxiety. I fully support the notion that if you can control your anxiety with preparation, you will not look to escape. With this said, here are my 5 simple tips that you can do to keep this anxiety in check.
5 steps to kill your anxiety
STEP 1. Stop and Acknowledge life in the present moment. If you are outside in the park, feel the earth. Look down at ants, bugs, the grass. Give this the time that it needs for you to become aware and whilst this is happening do not think of the task ahead or what happening yesterday. Stay in the now.
STEP 2. Acknowledge the sounds. This could be the sound of the wind, leafs, trees, animals – try not to focus on human voices. Most people will think that step 2 is occurring during step 1 however for step to to truly occur it needs full attention. Review this Auditory distance perception to further understand the human brain regarding distance of sound and the human deception of multi sound source.
STEP 3. Acknowledge the things you can touch around you and bring your censors to your finger tips. Immerse your fingers into the earth if you can.
STEP 4. For some it’s activating smell however, for me smell is too strong of a sense and can throw me off. In this speak i recommend laying down closing your eyes and extending steps 2 & 3. Using large breathes in and out to 4 beats and holding at the top on on the last for 8 beats and exhaling and holding again for 4 and taking another big breath.
STEP 5. Shake way!!! Physically shake yourself and roll your neck and wrists. Do a heavy escape from that beautiful moment. This will shock your system and into thinking – wow, what was that! However, in this moment tell your brain and you can go there again and you will. But for now, let’s get to the task in hand.
This technique is a mixture of things that I’ve learnt, things that I’ve practiced and things that work form me. I mean, you may want to add in the sense of smell however, i feel that that throws me off a lot and breaks in nice space and mood you are nurturing your mind into and the Matrix you are shocking your body out of.
After this, you should not escape. You should tackle the task at hand 🤝