Releasing Tension and Anxiety – Important mental health practices.
October 25, 2021
I didn’t want this month to go by without sharing something helpful and addressing that October is Mental Health Awareness Month. In previous posts, I have talked about how significant anxiety is something that our family has had to deal with in the past several years.
I do believe that most of us have struggled with some form of mental health issue (or a loved one who has), and I am feeling more optimistic that our openness and transparency can assist the advances for helping those in need.
Certainly, we can all relate to experiencing tension and anxiousness from time to time on many different levels. Our thoughts and emotions are just that, experiences that flow in and out of us at any given moment. Through mindfulness, we can become the observer of them rather than a participant.
I have experienced times when I am so stressed, busy, and overwhelmed that I am simply just hanging on and reacting to life. Sound familiar? At these times, it seems that there is really no capacity for anything else in our lives. We may feel we have no choice and have to push through and hang onto the possibility that relief will come eventually. When I find myself in these situations, I am exhausted and totally inefficient because I am reacting versus thoughtfully choosing what is the best way to handle the moment.
In these moments, it is particularly important to take the time for some practices that will relieve some of the tension, like a tea-pot releasing steam, so that we can create space in the body and mind to engage with difficulties more thoughtfully and with greater ease.
Practices such as yoga, meditation, prayer, walks, sleep, and talking with a trusted friend can help you find a calmer, centered awareness to face challenges. Think of these as recharging your battery to draw energy back to the mind and body in order to anchor and steady you. Everything changes, difficulties arise and they fall away, so equanimity is key to meeting our experience with awareness.
A really nice mantra to meet challenging moments with equanimity is:
“This moment, it’s like this.”
Please do not mistake this as resignation or being passive, this is a practice that takes back your power by meeting the experience with grounded presence rather than suppressing, fighting, or using avoidance behaviors.
The mental skill of mindfulness will separate the thoughts surrounding difficult experiences that create catastrophic and unrealistic attachments to potential outcomes. We learn that we can navigate through these rough waters by steering our way through rather than getting swept away by the rapids.
One of the most successful practices for alleviating anxiety and overall mental health is the understanding that we do not have to become our thoughts and emotions. Rather than “I am anxious”, or “I am angry”, we can say; “I am experiencing anxiousness” or “I am experiencing anger.” Again, we are not these thoughts or feelings, they are passing through us temporarily.
This moment, it’s like this…there is such patience and acceptance in this statement for being simply human and living the human experience. We are all just trying to do our best each day and the most important person that needs to tell us this is ourselves.
When you find yourself overwhelmed and seemingly out of ideas to solve a problem, this is the perfect time to let go and release yourself to the experience. Take a deep breath, observe the thoughts and feelings as a temporary extension of you, then allow some time for this experience to dissolve as you notice how it loses its power over you.
Please reach out to me if you would like more information or assistance with creating a plan for releasing tension and anxiety.