Imprisoned by Anxious Feelings? — 4 Ways You Can Free Yourself

These days, with negative news and reports coming at you from all angles, it seems only natural to worry.

Sometimes it’s simply an automatic response to think and overly ponder certain concerns.

The problem that lies therein is the unfortunate ability of your mind to wander into a downward spiral of anxiety. You may end up feeling weighed down with worry or emotionally chaotic with a whirlwind of thoughts in your mind.

No matter which facade your anxiety takes on, it’s not typically a positive one.

Anxious feelings soon run your life and you’re not sure how it happened. You are only sure that you feel trapped in a vicious cycle—imprisoned by your anxiety.

When looking for a reprieve, consider some ways you can free yourself.

1. Stop and Breathe

During a moment of overwhelming thoughts, anxiety can cause you to feel like you’re drowning or suffocating. Maybe you’re familiar with the sensation. Your heartbeat quickens, breath shortens, and you feel a desperate need for these feeling to change.

The physicalities of anxiety are not only serious, but very real. Though, these sensations don’t have to ruin your life or health. Learning to recognize your own anxious feelings is a step in freeing yourself from anxiety’s control.

Try to take a moment to step back from the anxiety-inducing situation. Focus in on your own breath; your inhales and exhales. Just stop and focus on this moment and breathe.

This simple action can be very powerful. It will ground you with a more solid footing to face the issue at hand. It is a mindful practice that will anchor you back to the "now."

2. Draw From Your Memory

Attempting to deny, suppress, or even forcefully try to change your feelings is ruinous.

During a struggle with anxiety, you may feel frustrated, angry, or simply overwhelmed. Rather than facing this negative emotions head-on, try approaching it from a different angle.

Think of a memory that makes you feel content or happy. It could be a trip to the beach with the kids, the first date with your spouse, or a recent family vacation.

How do you feel? Better yet, what do you feel in your body?

Most likely, your breathing will be slower and calmer. Your heart will be beating at a more regular pace. All of your senses begin feeling normal or even comfortable. Remember this feeling because you can go back to it and draw from it in the future.

3. Replace Anxious Feelings and Thoughts

Anxiety-inducing thoughts cause a negative physiological response. Left unchecked, this response can shackle you down and freeze you in place. But your mind is powerful, and you can rely on it to free you from this struggle.

Don’t believe it?

Think back to that positive memory that consistently makes you feel happy and use it to replace negative thoughts and feelings. When thinking of a positive memory, your mind will alter its course causing your body to respond and follow suit. Shortly, your senses will return to normal and anxiety will not have won.

4. Remember to Live in the Moment

Living in the moment doesn’t mean forgetting to be a responsible adult. Rather, it means the opposite. It means honing in on the fullness of each experience and enjoying that moment.

Once you’ve enjoyed the moment—big or small—you gracefully let it slip into your history. It’s an artful and more enjoyable way to live, but it takes practice. This type of living calls for you to handle one moment at a time, leaving less room for weighty worry and resulting anxiety to bog you down.

Try it! You may be surprised how fun it is to escape your struggle with anxiety and worry and how mindfulness is more rewarding because it lessens the constrictive and anxious focus of your life.