HOW TO CREATE AN ‘Anxiety User Manual’

HOW TO CREATE AN ‘Anxiety User Manual’

Do you ever wonder, “What causes my anxiety?” Or "What is wrong with me?” 

Nothing is wrong with you. Your anxiety is the alarm system in your body, and it’s there to alert you to aspects of your life that do not work for you. It is your fight/flight response in your limbic system. Understanding it can help you manage it—or, even better, re-channel that energy to make your life soar. 

I suggest creating an Anxiety User Manual for yourself. 

Think of it as drafting your owner’s user manual, like the one in your car. Find a blank journal or an unused spiral notebook. Then, go over the questions below, and write out your answers to get you started.

Important tip: Some anxiety is genetic and inherited from family members. To identify it, take time to think back on your parents and grandparents.

1. What anxiety is inherited? 

Take note of the traumas that your parents and grandparents have had and how those experiences shape their emotional states and behavior.

For example, if they were poor, did they instill financial fears that don’t align with your actual financial circumstances? Or did they experience brutality at the hands of authority? 

2.  What are the top ten things you fear most?

Are they real fears? Or are they inherited fears that have evolved into unrealistic worries that are not likely to happen?

3. How much anxiety do you create on your own?

Get to know your inner critic. It is one of the main drivers of social anxiety. Write down the top five statements your inner critic says to you repeatedly. Rewrite those statements with positive messaging, similar to the ones below. 

Inner Critic: I’m an idiot. I’ll never get this done. 
Replacement Thought: You can do this. Be patient with yourself. 

Inner Critic: No one wants to hang out with a depressed person. 
Replacement Thought: There are other people out there who need me just as much as I need them. 

Inner Critic: I’m never going to have enough money. 
Replacement Thought: I am on the journey to abundance and will get everything I need and want.

When you hear your inner critic putting you down, reconstruct the thought in a positive way. Be persistent with this kind of thought replacement. It will become second nature as you rewire your neuropathways.

4. Make a list of pleasant experiences for each of your five senses.

I find it ironic that the key to escaping your anxiety is to distract yourself. The truth of the matter is, it is the anxiety that is the distraction. When our anxiety takes over, we become numb to our real senses and the present moment. We get trapped in an imaginary doomsday scenario and become disconnected from our bodies. When three or more of your senses are engaged, anxiety fades.

Here are some examples of ways to engage your senses: 
Smell – essential oil, perfume, a flower, suntan lotion
Taste – chocolate, a mint, coffee
Sound – waves, music, audiobook
Sight – fireplace, tree, art, sports game
Touch – smooth stone, blanket, leaf or petal, cold pack 

Keep this list handy! 

Practice right now by choosing three from different categories. Once you have those items, focus on all three things at the same time. Stare at the visual while you smell or taste your chosen comfort and tune in to sound. You will find that your other thoughts will be held at bay as long as you keep at least three senses engaged.

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