Articles > Dealing with anxiety
Dealing with anxiety
It begins with understanding its cause
Have you thought much about rabbits recently? They live safely underground but must come out to eat, and when they do there's a very real risk of being eaten alive by a fox. Think about that for a moment! Every day a rabbit might live or die: this is a fact of life for many other wild animals too. Indeed, for most wild animals life is a constant struggle for survival and often might seem terribly cruel to a modern human being.
Faced with this kind of pressure why don't rabbits all suffer from constant anxiety? After all, we're not talking about a tough interview or a difficult afternoon with our parents - this is literally life or death. The answer is almost certainly because rabbits spend their days looking for tasty grass to nibble rather than worrying themselves about what might happen if they are cornered by a vicious, hungry fox.
This simple analogy is the key to understanding anxiety. We cause it within ourselves without realising it, by dwelling on unlikely "what-ifs", worst-case scenarios and focusing on the negatives. In contrast the rabbit thinks about nothing but the tasty grass it's eating, while simultaneously remaining vigilant for any sudden threats and relying on its reflexes and speed to deal with any dangerous situation. Perhaps because we have larger brains we are able to think much more and consequently our more "thoughtful" method carries the penalties of anxiety which has no positive benefit whatsoever and in the process may sabotage our own happiness and in many cases our health too.
But how can we deal with our problem and reduce our anxiety? The answer seems to be, to focus on the present... the right now, what is happening right in front of us. Not to think about the past for it has gone and can't be changed, nor worrying about the future which hasn't happened yet. By absolutely forbidding ourselves from thinking about things which we have no control over and forcing ourselves to focus on the positives of the present, this can make a great deal of difference to our daily lives.
In other words keep it simple and be more rabbit-like!
As we all know there are strong links between anxiety and depression and both disorders are directly caused by our own thoughts, and are therefore preventable:
- What we think affects what we do and how we feel
- What we feel affects what we think and do
- What we do affects how we think and feel
When we find ourselves thinking negative thoughts we must turn our attention away and focus on the present instead. Refuse your mind permission to dwell on these things. Direct your attention elsewhere - you really can do it! Why not try it for a couple of days and leave your comments below how it worked for you.
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