How to relax when we feel anxious and our mind is racing.
When we suffer from anxiety, we can find it very hard to relax the mind and body. Not only may we feel constantly irritable and uneasy, but also, we may find it hard to switch off our mind and the constant racing thoughts that can go with it. The reason we have so many thoughts running around is because all we have done for the last few weeks/months is to constantly think about ourselves and how we are feeling.
The mind now has a momentum to it and our thinking mind just goes into auto mode; it has now become a habit. This momentum, built through the constant thinking, worrying and self-monitoring, has created the noisy/repetitive mind that feels out of control.
We may also feel irritable. This is due to the fact that our nerves have become sensitised because of all we have been through. They may seem to be constantly on red alert for no apparent reason. This is due to all the pressure we put on ourselves to feel better. The constant worrying begins to take its toll and our nerves don’t have a chance to rest; they are basically over-worked.
While we fear and worry about how we feel, then we are keeping ourselves in the cycle and not giving our nerves the rest they so crave While we over-think everything then we are not giving our mind a chance to rest and hence it stays in this place of feeling out of control.
With an understanding of my symptoms and how I felt, I was able to go to bed at night without the constant need to try and figure out the day or constantly question how I was feeling. Because of this, I was able to stop that constant chatter of worry and give my mind the break it so craved. I finally understood what was keeping me in the cycle. Every symptom and cycle can be fully explained; there is always a reason why we feel the way we do. The way out is not to try and fix or suppress any suffering; it is to see what is causing the suffering and to then let go of this behaviour.
There is great wisdom in any suffering, be it mental or physical. It is your mind or body’s way of telling you that what you are doing is not helpful and you need to change something. My confused/erratic mind was telling me that I was over-thinking and when I stopped over-thinking, it went back to its natural/restful state.
The more I tried to force it to shut up and to be how I wanted it to be, the more I suffered. It was telling me that this was not the answer. When I felt anxious, it was my body’s way of trying to release this anxious energy. When I fought to feel different and used techniques to suppress it, then nothing changed. This was my body’s way of telling me to allow these feelings. When I did, this anxious energy left my inner space and I began to feel peace once again.
Relaxing the mind
There are many ways to relax the mind, but just taking a step back from how you are feeling can help, even if it is just going for a walk in the fresh air to blow away a few cobwebs or maybe taking up a new hobby like painting or gardening. Anything to help you become more outward than inward-looking and stop dwelling on yourself and how you feel. I used to go for a walk once a day and also listen to some music or take a bike ride.
You don’t have to ‘try’ to relax; this is an attitude, not something for the mind to execute or get good at. It is also not about ignoring your suffering by trying to distract yourself from it. It is more about just adding different things into your day in order to give your mind another focus and help you to stay in the present.
What I found most helpful was to stay relaxed in my attitude no matter how I felt and to allow any discomfort to be there without trying to feel any different than I did. I tend to see it like the outside weather – there may be a storm at the moment, but the clouds always pass. The more I allowed any discomfort, the better I felt. The more I resisted it or tried to change it, then the more I suffered.