Changing the Way We Relate to Anxiety

An effective technique to change your relationship to anxiety is to try to cultivate a sense of gratitude for it. Most of the time, anxiety is the result of repressed emotions that need to be released. This can be repressed grief, sadness, anger, or fear (just to name a few) that are now manifesting as anxiety since they have not yet been expressed in their true form.

The first way to move toward acceptance and away from resistance is to ask: “What is my anxiety trying to teach or show me right now?” Reflecting on this question may help us find insights that switch our perspective from anxiety being a “bad” thing that we have to get rid of, to something that gives us an opportunity for growth. This changes everything.

When we look at anxiety as a teacher, it opens up the possibility for growth in areas that we have not yet reached before. Most of the time when we try to resist or control something, it’s because we do not feel safe. Reminding ourselves that everything that is happening is for our personal growth and benefit can help us to relax a bit more and trust in the timing of our lives.

Even though we’ve trained our minds so well to swallow certain negative emotions, our bodies seek the opposite and try to release these stored energies through any means possible. If not released in a healthy way, these trapped emotions will manifest as anxiety or illness. Along with looking for the lesson in the anxiety, and then shifting into a feeling of gratitude for it, there are many other ways to begin to uncover and release some of those repressed emotions that may be causing your anxiety in the first place.

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Occasionally in the yoga posture practice, we will see a spontaneous release of stored emotions (i.e., maybe you’ve experienced or have witnessed someone next to you in yoga class start to cry after a long hold in a hip-opening posture). That is the body’s natural way of releasing that repressed stored emotion in the body. Through asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath consciousness) and meditation as well as other mindful practices, we can intentionally work on releasing some of those stored emotions to diminish anxiety and restore equilibrium to our emotional state of being.