Coping Skills: How to Deal with Anxiety, Depression & Overwhelm

Stress balls

My body is tense and uncomfortable, looking for distractions… Caffeine? Perfect! Sugar? Bring it on! Text messaging, videogames, Facebook? Even better. My mind is shifting, circling without landing anywhere… one thought to the next distracted thought. Conversations and people around me are like magnets, drawing my fickle attention. I feel like someone dropped a handful of pop rocks into my bloodstream.

Alert! Be very very attentive now. No, you’re not hunting wabbits (sorry for the Yosemite Sam reference). You’re hunting feelings.

Feelings? Can’t I just skip over the whole “feelings” thing?

Yes, but now you’re entering very dangerous manifestation territory.  Do you want to know how negative things manifest? Skip over your feelings and watch… as the depression and heaviness you’re feeling, when not acknowledged and overcome, becomes comfort-eating… which becomes physical, bodily heaviness. Or that sense of overwhelm, undealt with, leads to zone-out activities… which manifest into piles of clutter and a mounting list of to-dos and deadlines. Now that’s overwhelming! Or anxiety unresolved leads to a caffeine buzz which leads to running and running from one thing to the other, too many obligations, loose ends everywhere, shallow, unsupportive relationships… and now there’s really something to be anxious about!

So, before you manifest your emotions into physical form, take your discomfort as a warning signal. Deal with the underlying issues and emotions as they arise [see the exercise below and take our 7 week video course: 7 Secrets for Creating the Life You REALLY Want] and instead of reaching for the quick fix… distraction, procrastination, food, caffeine, busy-ness… reach for your most cautious behavior: eat well, exercise, take breaks, drink plenty of water, journal, BREATHE and move patiently, compassionately and humbly through the discomfort. The pain seems to increase temporarily when you first focus on it. But then it releases. And without the avoidance activities, you are spiraling UP before you know it instead of spiraling down into your own familiar, personal abyss.

Experiment: “Just Deal With It”

The next time you’re feeling “off”, physically or emotionally, give yourself 15-30 minutes of private time, depending on the severity of the feeling. Without trying to change anything or attach a story to it, directly experience the “offness” as an emotion or physical sensation on the body. When your mind wanders to the “story” of it, continually call it back to the physical sensation. Ask yourself where you feel this on your body, go to the center of the physical sensation and observe it, curiously… the texture, temperature, color and any related images.  If there are emotions present, allow yourself to feel them deeply and directly, letting the waves pass over you again and again until they subside naturally. Take a few moments now to experience the calmness you’ve just created. At this point—and only after you have fully experienced and observed the emotion or physical sensation—engage your mind: What circumstance is this emotion or sensation related to? What is needed of you to deal with this situation? Resolve and plan how you will handle this issue and follow through.

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