Sunday, August 6, 2017

Anxiety, under diagnosed and oftentimes over-treated by “big pharma,” will never change or get better without your personal involvement. The more energy you put into a situation the more personal satisfaction you get out of your effort. To support your energy and effort, I have created a safe and encouraging blog area to help you move forward in your life.
Rather than have a drink, toke, or a snort, to try to wipe away this ruminating anxiety by adding tools to the toolbox. Although it feels as if it is eating you alive, there are healthier ways to manage your anxiety, such as journaling. Writing Your Way to Healing and Wholeness is a guided journal, I will cover effective journaling in these first few blogs to enhance this form of art as meaningful outlet for you. Like many art forms, journaling is always an evolving process and each day either you have a new canvas to start or you are adding detail, texture, and context to what you wrote yesterday.
Not all art forms are the same; therefore, not all artists are the same. Some like working with clay and others with watercolor, while some don’t care for oils, others delve deep into the richness of color. Writing is the same way for people. For some, it would be boring just to record your daily life. However, recording your daily life may make you aware of how boring life has become for you! Thus, journaling as an “art” gets your creative juices going by supplementing your life and bringing life into the objects around you. For instance, anxiety that just won’t shut up becomes quiet, goes away, or stops for microseconds. The art of writing opens a new window of opportunity to do something different with anxiety by learning to externalize the anxiety, rather than be anxiety’s hostage.
To start externalizing your anxiety, set your timer for two minutes and close your eyes, imagine your anxiety and let it take form. What does the anxiety look like? How big? How small? What is its texture? Does it have an odor? What color or colors is it?
Once you have a clearly defined your anxiety, open your eyes, set your timer for three more minutes and write down the image of your anxiety. Take your time and really use your pen as a paintbrush and describe fully your anxiety. Take a deep breath and ask the anxiety, “What message do you have for me?” Write down what anxiety says. Notice how that message makes you feel inside of your body. Where do you feel it in your body and how would you like body to respond differently next time? Given the information from your body, write for three continuous minutes by responding to anxiety’s message to you. Continue back and forth in this dialogue. You may find the timer helpful or you may be ready to let the timer go and just keep dialoguing.
Timers are helpful tools when coping with concern or worry because anxiety enjoys being an intimidator. Anxiety enjoys its own chatter. It is constantly saying things like, “you are taking too much time,” “that was a stupid message,” and “this stupid exercise is getting your nowhere.” If you are writing while using a timer then you just keep focusing and moving on. A good analogy for me is physical therapy. While doing rehab for my knee replacement, the PT handed me a timer, I learned to hold a position for thirty seconds, one minute, and so on. The timer became my friend because when it went off I could let go. Similarly, the timer is a helpful friend while doing journal exercises.
Think about journaling as a therapy that helps you live a productive and engaged lifestyle with your friends, family, and yourself. Think about coming to your journal daily for as little as six-to- ten minutes. Then every other day add a minute. Eventually, you are doing ten to twenty-minute writing exercises every other day. That is enough if you want it to be. Some of you may write hours but that is not the usual experience of journaling folks. Six through twenty minutes is enough for personal growth and reflection. As in anything, consistency is the key.
Once a week spend a few minutes re-reading what you wrote. What was your focus? Where are you stuck? Where are you making progress? Where do you want you to focus this coming next week?
You don’t need to spend every exercise working with your anxiety, but if anxiety is a big issue for you dedicate at least one day a week externalizing it and dialoguing with the anxiety.  My new book allows you to discover many exercises.  Click on the link below to get your copy today.