Another Anxiety Pro Tip: Normalizing
One of the most powerful tools Anxiety carries in its pocket is to make you think that the Anxiety sensations are totally out of the realm of normal, super scary, and extremely noticeable among everyone around you. But these kinds of thoughts are Anxiety-based, and Anxiety-reinforcing: They're NOT true and they only make Anxiety STRONGER.
Anxiety may tell you these or some other similar version of lies:
"I'm going crazy"
"I'm having a nervous breakdown"
"I'm freaking out"
"I don't know what's happening to me--I'm out of control"
"I'm never going to feel better"
"Everyone thinks I'm weird"
"Everyone's looking at me"
"Everyone's going to laugh at me"
"I'm going to have a heart attack"
"I'll never fall asleep"
And these lies, as you might imagine, make you feel even more anxious.
Normalizing: What it is, and How it helps
Normalizing means to bring attention to the fact that Anxiety is a normal feeling, and that literally everyone experiences it--it's part of being human! Actually, Anxiety is meant to be a helpful experience...it's kind of like our "alarm system", it "rings" in order to let us know that something's wrong, that there is a danger. But because of our super powered brain with capacity for grand imagination, our alarm can go off when there's no danger present. And again, this happens to all of us!
When we realize that the sensations we call "Anxiety" are indeed normal and common, they are still uncomfortable, but they stop these escalating lies listed above right in their tracks.
Ways to Normalize Anxiety
1. Work with a therapist to understand what Anxiety is, how you experience it in your body, and why.
2. Check out books that can help normalize Anxiety: For young children, books like All Birds Have Anxiety, can help. For elementary and middle school kids, try Guts, by Raina Telgemeier. And here's a great list for teens.
3. If you are raising children who struggle with anxiety, model for them. Talk about feeling worried, in a neutral, non-threatening way. Show them that you can laugh at the anxiety, at yourself.
4. Directly let your kids know that everyone experiences anxiety. Tell them that it's uncomfortable, and validate their discomfort. But let them know that it passes quickly, and it's a part of life.
If you or your child is struggling with anxiety, I can help! Call Creating Space Counseling and Wellness today, to see if therapy could help your family!