Checking in with Your Anxiety

“Take a deep breath,” they say. “Do breathing exercises.” “Let go of your thoughts”  Although these suggestions/techniques are effective in helping with some anxious episodes, panic attacks, and other symptoms, these are not always effective with the process in which a person experiences the final outcomes of an anxious state of mind. I’ll explain what I mean…the mind does not become panicked or even anxiously activated suddenly or automatically. There is something we are doing or not doing, consciously thinking or not aware we are thinking, a stimulus in our environment, or a lack of something in our environment that leads the mind to the anxious outcome.  I will describe and explain what I just said in a moment, but first:

I would like to get your attention regarding what we call anxiety. 

First, worry happens. Worry is so close to our daily functioning; it is happening to us almost constantly. Our minds make a lot of noise regarding things that it wants us to worry about. The way worry happens is automatic. Automatically, what do you mean? But, I thought we could control our thoughts, and I get to choose what I worry about?  Well, the more we learn about the brain and it’s functioning, the more we realize that most of the time, we are not in control of our thoughts. At least not in control of how our thoughts come about. What we can control is how we do, cope, and communicate with our thoughts…more on this later. 

The subconscious mind feeds you the worry-based information you cannot control when you are awake or asleep. When you are awake, the subconscious mind is interacting with the conscious mind, which picks up on the worry-based information. That worry-based information is now being fed to you essentially by force through this automatic process. The conscious mind reacts to this worry-based information by automatically sending many quiet, sometimes loud signals to your body that you are experiencing worry. Your body attends to these subconscious and conscious mind worry-based information by tensing in different areas. By shifting your breathing, giving you aches, and compromising your entire physiological functioning. The process in which worry-based thoughts happen leads to a state of stress, leading to the experience of distress which is what we call anxiety, panic, fear, or other symptoms.

Going back to the topic of how we arrive at an anxious state of mind and body, I want to use the flowchart below to show the process in which we do that. I can visualize I am typing the last sentence how some of the therapists in our team at smiling at the flowchart idea. I often use flowcharts to organize, interpret, explain, and streamline processes of the mind, treatment, and office miscellaneous. If you are a therapist in the Therapy Treatment Team, I thank you for your hard work with our clients :). Ok, back to the flowchart! I will call this flowchart The Attention Seeking Anxiety.

How do you deal with this automatic subconscious body activating process?

First, practice awareness without fear.  Do not be afraid to realize, understand, or pay attention to these anxious sensations. Think about it, your mind is trying to tell you something. It is ok to attend to it.  After noticing it, ask the question “what is my mind trying to tell me?” “what is the message from my mind?”. Now, begin the process of being vulnerable. Remember, what your mind is trying to tell you may not be true, but regardless of it being true or false, you might feel ashamed, guilty, sad or some other emotion that does not feel good. Be vulnerable with your mind and recognize that what it just messaged you about made you feel ashamed. Name the emotion you are feeling from the message your mind sent your consciousness and body. Now, you can begin to diffuse the message and the emotion so the sensation can go away.  Start the diffusing process by questioning the message. How true is this message? What prove do I have that what my mind is telling me is true? How many other times has my mind told me this before? Even though my mind is telling me this, will it actually happen? Continue to diffuse by explaining to yourself that the message from your mind are nothing more than formulated thoughts and you have thousands of thoughts each day and most of these thoughts do not hold truth or validity. Tell your mind that you will decide, choose, and attend to the thoughts you want to take into consideration that you find most beneficial to your well being and life. Repeat this process multiple times until you notice the physical sensation is gone. I wish you well in this long journey or attending to your mind. It is a beautiful thing and we can grow and be healthier by attending to our minds without fear. 

Dr. Yaro Garcia

Hello, I am Dr. Garcia, please call me Yaro. My degrees are in clinical psychology and I am a licensed mental health counselor. My approach is caring, warm, safe, non-judgmental, and straight forward. It is a difficult decision to seek therapy, I take time to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with you…