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Anxiety Awareness

how to use anxiety to set boundaries and manage emotions

Did you know that at least 42 million Americans are dealing with generalized anxiety disorder? What is making us so anxious?

Obviously genetics play a role, but what environmental factors might be contributing? In treatment, something that shows up a lot around anxiety  is disregulated emotions and poor boundaries, which often go together as boundaries help us feel safe with our own feelings. 

To retrain  your brain to understand how to process feelings better without losing as much reasaonable processing, start with daily mindfullness around body repsonses and feelings.  Spend at least 5 minutes each day alone with a mindfulness journal, and scan your body for tension, shortness of breath, aches and pains.  Document what is occuring and explore what Self Care is needed to tend to your body? 

Then listen to your thoughts, are they stressful, angry, tired? What feelings can be heard in your thoughts? If you observe difficult feelings, use The 5 Questions to journal about and meet your emotional needs. 

Once you have become more aware of yourself, your generalized anxiety will be easier to track. When is it more intense? When is less intense? To track this, use your mindfulness journal to draw a scale of 1 - 10 with one being your least anxious moment (relaxing at home) and 10 being your worst ever anxiety (that car crash in '2010). 

You will then add a scaling activity to your daily mindfulness journal to better understand what moves your anxiety around and how it relates to your underlying emoitnal experiences. For those emotions that move your anxiety into the middle of your baseline, you can set boundaries to help you process. 

Here is a graphic to represent the  process:

Let's say you are having an increasing feeling of guilt that is making your anxiety rise. Based on your previous mindfulness journal entries, how often do you feel guilt,? How intense can that feeling get for you? What kind of needs do you have to make the guilt feel more maneagable and reduce your anxiety around feeling that way? 

There are feelings based experiences we have that respond well to boundaries, but triggers are not like that. These feelings are intense, past oriented, often trauma based, and disrupt our ability to function in a regulated way.  The goal then is to reduce the frequence of trigger based anxiety by "cleaning  out" our  easier processed feelings through self care and boundary work, and that leaves more energy for understanding how to handle triggers, which is an entirely different blog post. 

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