Don’t Give your Anxiety the Time of Day

Ignore physical symptoms

Just ignore it.

Sounds like a Herculean task at first I know. It’s almost like asking a person to not look at a car accident when passing by. Impossible. Until you realize it is just a movie screen and you have seen the movie a million times before.

Our anxieties’ physical symptoms are like a movie we’ve seen a million times before.

Wait, I haven’t even had anxiety a million times!?!

I know, but the anxious feelings in our body are the exact same feelings we’ve experienced in tons of different situations up to this point. Let’s explore some of those other times we have felt them when they didn’t scare us.  

We’ll use these four examples: rapid heart rate, sweating profusely, difficulty breathing, and shaky hands. Now let’s identify some of the times we had these exact same physical sensations not affiliated with our anxiety.

Rapid heart rate: Think of that time you had too much caffeine, or watched a scary movie, the moment before your child’s first recital, or when a fire truck whizzed by you with blaring alarms out of nowhere.

Sweating profusely: Think of, summer on the east coast of the U.S., the end of a workout in the gym, walking during your lunch break, or any time during that new “hot” yoga class you love.

Difficulty breathing: Like when you took the 5 flights of stairs instead of the elevator, were in the middle of fun zumba class or went hiking with a friend.

Shaky hands: Think about the time you had low blood sugar before lunch, drank too much caffeine, or after spending the whole day helping a friend move.

It is important to recognize that when we are panicking or feeling anxious, we are interpreting physical sensations as disturbing when they feel  normal in other situations.

So take a moment right now and identify 3 specific body sensations that you have when you’re anxious. Then identify everyday activities and situations when you feel those same uncomfortable physical sensations.

Next time you start to feel your anxiety, remind yourself that you’re familiar with those physical sensations and they’re nothing to worry about. After you do this and label them false alarms, you can turn your attention away from your body and onto something you are doing, effectively not giving it the time of day.

What do you say now Hercules?

That said, when you first start experiencing physical sensations that worry you, please consult with a physician. Once you are cleared of any health issues, you’ll be able to practice the “don’t give it the time of day” strategy without second guessing yourself or sabotaging your efforts.