ASK ABDI: IS IT HEALTHY TO BE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH ANXIETY?
QUESTION: I am having an episode of anxiety due to financial issues that are overwhelming. I have a history of it from my childhood, which had eased up, but the recent bad news has brought all of it back on again with a vengeance.
I just listened to your "Sitting With Anxiety" podcast episode, and then I realized, again, that you actually think it is good to have a real relationship with anxiety. I just wonder how to cope when I can’t sleep, eat, when the veil comes down. But in some ways, you actually think that that is a spiritual thing? Maybe each time you learn something new?
Last night, I got my adrenals so calmed down, thinking that for that moment it was fine. But the minute I went to sleep, the anxiety just turned on and woke me up every 15 to 20 minutes. And that’s when I start really freaking out, because I am exhausted.
ANSWER: You are obviously dealing with a difficult situation that would bring anxiety up for anyone. That prolonged anxiety usually leads to adrenal exhaustion, which has its own complications, as you are seeing. There are many techniques, supplements, and practices that can help break that loop. Any kind of bodywork can be helpful here. Breathwork, where one breathes into the belly and exhales more slowly than inhaling, slows the body down. Grounding work, such as having one’s feet in grass while feeling them, is useful. Staying away from stimulants, such as caffeine and sugar, is crucial. Writing and talking to a sympathetic other can also discharge some of the energy.
The hardest practice and the most effective is to sit and feel the anxiety. This is quite difficult initially since our whole life is based on running away from this feeling. Yes, certain circumstances can bring up or magnify this anxiety, but for all of us it is an underlying state. As with other feelings, we either repress it or act it out. And similar to other feelings, we rarely actually sit with it and feel it. The feeling of it is crucial here, as it loses its hold on us. Start with a couple of minutes a day of the breathwork I described above, while feeling your body, followed by just sitting and feeling your body and whatever feelings that come up. It is normal to feel resistance and want to get up and be busy. Sit through that feeling and it will ease. A regular practice of this can make it much easier to navigate your way through. And do not isolate, let others in. Vulnerability is good medicine anytime, but particularly during these times. Be gentle, be present.