What can we do about it?
So how can we utilise the value of experiencing anxiety in the moments it’s actually needed, instead of allowing this process to become a debilitating ruler, who dictates our everyday decisions and behaviour?
I personally believe, supported by scientific endeavour that the answer is to change our state – to a state of happiness.
While there are many treatments out there and the path back to recovery requires a multi-pronged approach, it is with my experience that one of the most effective tools is writing and also coming to the understanding that we can choose to re-wire our brains to be happy. My greatest breakthrough for my own recovery was to learn that I had tuned into my own negative propaganda and was feeding the same narrative to my anxiety goblin over and over again. For some individuals, they believe the external world is a predictor of our happiness levels and thus the belief is held that our anxiety is a reactive response to our environment. In reality, if I knew everything about your external world, I could only predict 10% of your long term happiness. 90% of your long term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world.
So how do we re-wire our brains so that we perceive the world as less threatening, whilst also raising our happiness levels – making us more able to cope with an unpredictable world and more than that, to actually thrive in it?
Below is a proven method by a world renowned positive Psychologist, Shawn Achor, which has been used effectively by both schools and businesses to increase happiness; encouraging tremendous results in efficiency, test scores and general well-being:
• 3 New Gratitudes – Helps your brain to retain the pattern of scanning the world for the positive first.
• 1 Random act of kindness enforces us to believe that we are part of a social collective, our actions matter and we are connected – dispelling the myth that we are isolated and disconnected from others; Something that I used to feel on a daily basis.
• Journaling – One positive thing that has happened over the past 24 hours allows your brain to relive it.
• Physical outlet – Exercise teaches your brain that your behaviour matters.
• Meditation – Allows your brain to recover from the cultural ADHD that we have created and helps us to focus on the task at hand.
Having used this method in tandem with creative writing techniques myself I have found it to be an essential tool in reducing my anxiety levels significantly, but not only that, I’m more than just managing my routines – I have even taken steps to break them by trying new things and when I have a bad day, it doesn’t set me back into a depression. Seeing such a dramatic shift in my attitude and happiness levels has inspired me to impart this method to other people, who also face great difficulty in managing their anxiety. This is how ‘May Contain Nuts’ was born.
I believe that once a person has gained knowledge and insight, it is a person’s duty to share and teach what they have learned. Buddhism teaches us that life is suffering. Therefore, having researched meticulously my own suffering, I have now acquired effective tools and wisdom to share amongst others who have struggled in the same vain. It may be inevitable that throughout our lives we will come to know suffering, but there are methods we can utilise to manage how we react to our suffering. It is my greatest ambition to bestow some small relief for individuals with mental health issues and I believe that this can be eased through the discovery, the joy, the stillness, the freedom that writing brings.
Written by Imojinn