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Anxiety Exercises

Unfortunately, not many people get over anxiety instantly (wouldn't it be nice though!)  Anxiety disorders usually come on gradually as you pick up bad habits in your thought and worry patterns, so you need to gradually learn how to cope and create better habits.  The good news is that there are exercises that you can do that will often alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders fairly quickly.  Try each listed exercise for a few days at a time and it should make a difference.  Good luck! 

Redefining "Always"
Overcoming Unreality



Redefining Always

Do you often think that you always have anxiety?  Or that you are always depressed?  That you are always having panic attacks?  I used to think that.  And to some extent it was true - I can remember feeling that way probably 95% of the time.  But the truth is that no one is anxious or depressed every second of everyday.  It may seem like a lot, but there are times when you are probably feeling other emotions.

Here's the challenge.  Listen to your thoughts today.  If you hear yourself saying that you are always a certain way - depressed, anxious, boring, whatever - I want you to stop yourself and say instead, "I'm only a certain way (fill in negative state here) sometimes".

For example you catch yourself saying "I'm always anxious, I can't take it", just stop, don't get mad at yourself, but just say in your head:

"I'm anxious sometimes, It's ok, I can live with it". 


"I'm not always anxious, sometimes I'm ok". 

Even if you feel these statement aren't true, just try it for a day or two.  I guarantee you will feel a little different.

Overcoming Unreality

Unreality is a scary dream-like state that sufferers of anxiety disorders often experience.  One way of overcoming these feeling is by exposing yourself to them willfully.  You can induce feelings of unreality even when you aren't feeling them. By inducing them and forcing yourself to feel them, you will realize that unreality is just a symptom of anxiety and that it does not need to scare you (and in turn make you feel worse!).

Turn your hand palmside up . Hold it about a foot from your face. Pick one point. Now here's the fun part. Stare at it for at least a minute. Try not to blink too much, but when you do, return your focus to the exact spot that you picked. If you start thinking any thoughts, just catch yourself (don't get upset), and return your full attention back to that same spot on your hand. What happens???

Did things in your vision field start to look weird? Did they look fuzzy or wavy or like they were moving? Did your hand start to look blurry? Did you start to feel like you were in a weird dreamy state kind of like when you feel "unreal"?

If you did, that is the point. Staring at one spot for any amount of time will often induce these "unreal" feelings. It's sort of similar to when you stare
at your computer screen for hours on end. You get up and feel totally spaced out.

You may not have been able to stare at your hand for over a minute, but that's ok. You may have quit because the changes in your vision scared you, or it reminded you too much of the scary anxiety symptom you dread. Just try again. Perservere through the weird feelings.

You will probably become very scared of what you are experiencing, but if you persist, inevitably, the odd feeling will start to seem like no big deal, or maybe even funny!  At this point you will start to realize that feeling "unreal" is just a benign symptom. It will not harm you, and it is tolerable. The less that it scares you, the sooner your anxiety will pass.

Repeating the hand exercise is critical in becoming desensitized to the scariness of feeling unreal. Try it a few times in a row, then repeat the series each day for a week. Doing it over and over is what will make it seem like no big deal. You can also try staring at your reflection in a mirror in the same fashion, rather than staring at your hand if that does not work for you. It has the same effect of inducing unreality. Each time you do the exercise, it will become easier, less scary, and more silly. That's what you want!


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