Stop Running From Your Anxiety and Depression
People spend significant amounts of time avoiding their emotions. Instead of feeling the emotion and exploring it, people try to pretend it is not there. People typically use distraction and escape mechanisms to avoid their emotions. For example, some people indulge in self-pity; other people drink excessively. Regardless, they do whatever they can to avoid their emotions, which actually tends to intensify them.
When people avoid their emotions, they are constantly guessing what their emotions feel like and what is causing them. I will use an analogy to describe this.
Right before you jump into a body of water, you’re guessing what it is going to be like: Is the water deep or shallow? Will the water be cold or warm? Will there be any fish or algae? Similar skepticism exists when people explore their emotions: Will I be able to stop crying if I start? Will addressing my emotions get in the way of my day-to-day obligations? Will I spiral into a panic attack if I acknowledge my anxiety? Until you jump into that water, or you give yourself the opportunity to feel your emotions, these sorts of questions will linger in your mind.
So where can you start? Almost every emotion begins as a physical sensation in the body. For example, when you’re nervous, you may feel butterflies in your stomach. Or, when you’re sad, you may feel heaviness and aching in your heart. It is important to know that our bodies create these physical sensations for a reason. Our bodies are signaling us to pay attention to them.
Consequently, I challenge you today to notice the physical sensations in your body, especially when you are feeling some sort of emotion. Instead of ignoring it or using distraction to pretend it is not there, stay with the sensation. It is usually helpful to get into a meditative state - Close your eyes and sit comfortably with the emotion. Give the physical sensation of the emotion your undivided attention. Show the sensation your love and compassion because that is what it ultimately needs!
Emma Petersen is a psychotherapist specializing in depression, bereavement, and grief. Her passion is helping others during the most distressing and vulnerable moments in life. Emma helps others see hope and potential instead of despair and closed doors, and has an uncanny way of shedding light on the most challenging situations. She is most recognized for her ability to help others repair and amend broken and strained relationships in an effort to encourage personal growth and emotional peace. She primarily incorporates a combination of evidence-based and mindfulness techniques into session.
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