When it comes to overcoming or coping with anxiety, you’ve probably heard a lot of advice that’s alllll about gettin’ inside your own head, like:
And yeah, all that advice is pretty dang awesome (which is why those are also some of my biggest tips for living a healthy, happy life!). But I know that for some folks with anxiety, working with your thoughts ain’t an option.
In fact, I have clients come in allll the time, saying: “I tried doing what you said and identify negative thoughts and be all self-love-y and compassionate. But I just couldn’t! My thoughts were racing and suuuuuper negative and it was all just TOO MUCH to handle. And now I feel even mooooore anxious than ever…”
Can you relate to a racing mind that feels impossible to work with?
Then you’re really gonna like this post…’cause I’m diving into an alternative technique you can use to find feel at ease in anxious moments. This is all about using your BODY to transform those anxious jitters into energy that propels you forward and makes you feel like an epic badass.
And how do I know this tool works so well? From a personal – mind-blowing – experience.
My “Aha Moment” of Seeing the POWER in Anxiety
Six years ago, I was selected to be part of this highly competitive bootcamp for female entrepreneurs doing innovative work in the world. At the end of the bootcamp, I had to give a presentation showing off allll the wisdom I’d learned. The night before the presentation, I was feeling pretty freakin’ good about it! I’d spent yeaaaaaaars letting go of my anxiety about people and acceptance. What could go wrong?
I have a feeling you already know the answer: I walked into the conference room the next morning and all of a sudden, anxiety hit me like a punch to the gut.
My heart was pounding, I could barely breathe and my mouth was too dry to say a single word – not to mention a whole presentation! The worst part was feeling like NONE of my go-to coping skills would work. I was sooooo shocked by all the jitters, I didn’t know how to start working with my negative thoughts and replacing them with self-compassion. Hell, the room was so loud and busy, I couldn’t even figure out what my thoughts were in the first place!
That’s when I found myself walking out to the parking lot and jumping up and down with alllll of my might while I belted out “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele as looooudly as I could. And yeah, I probably looked a lil’ crazy and I had NO idea why I was even doing this…but two to three minutes later, I felt totally wiped. So I sat down on the curb, and that’s when it hit me:
I didn’t feel anxious anymore.
In fact, the longer I sat there, the better I felt. More energized. More grounded and centered. Hell, more in my own skin than I had in a looooong time. And when I left and gave my presentation a few minutes later, I totallllly kicked ass.
How This Moment Turned My Thoughts on Coping with Anxiety Upside Down
Now, when it comes to overcoming or coping with anxiety, I’ve always been a huuuuuge fan of one thang: MINDFULNESS.
‘Cause you CAN’T beat anxiety by burying your head in some imaginary sand every time anxious thoughts come up. You’ve gotta pause, recognize the negative thoughts getting your anxious wheels turnin’, and challenge and question those beliefs until you’re sooooo full of self-love and self-compassion, you’re feeling post-spa-day calm.
But that moment at the bootcamp made me realize something:
Maybe anxiety is a type of energy.
Maybe that energy doesn’t have to be negative.
And maybe I can use that energy in a positive way and don’t ALWAYS have to rely on working with my thoughts to cope with anxiety.
How I Took Anxiety From Crippling to Empowering
That’s when I committed to doing the exact opposite of what I’d been doing for years. I’d STOP trying to work with my thoughts and START focusing on transforming the negative energy in my body to something good.
So every day, I’d do three things:
- Think of something uuuuuuber anxiety-triggering.
- Feel that jittery energy in my body.
- MOVE that energy! Sometimes this meant jumping. Sometimes it was dancing. Punching, chanting, screaming…the list goes on and on. (And who knows what my poor neighbors thought I was doing along the way! lol)
Strange antics aside…here’s the most important thing about step three: I would always move with that energy, rather than trying to avoid that energy or calm it down. I would let that energy fully express itself as explosively as it needed to be.
And by doing that, time after time, I was able to release the fear energy in my body and find a deeeeeep peace and power that came from feeling really rested and relaxed. And that bodily power made me feel really freakin’ STRONG.
In fact, I began to think about my anxious thoughts like the energy we see in animals or pets. Because, yeah, when a dog is nervous or freaking out, they’re running around in circles and scratching at walls and howling louder than a fire truck siren. But a dog’s level of excitement to see you after you’ve been away at work all day is also skkkkkky high!
And after plenty of practice, I realized that I could turn my own anxious feelings into that sky-high energy and not always need to work with my thoughts.
The best part of that?
Suddenly, anxiety wasn’t a disease or imbalance or alllllll the other negative, stigmatized things I’ve heard my entire life.
Anxious energy was just energy that wasn’t being processed properly in my body.
And as long as I channeled that energy by moving my body and giving that energy some space…anxiety could be one of my GREATEST sources of power.
What Coping with Anxiety Looks Like For Me Today
Nowadays, physically channeling my anxiety is as regular a part of my day as stretching when I wake up in the morning or brushing my teeth.
And, sure, I do have fearful or anxious or overwhelmed days. After all, I’m human and newly married and busy figuring out a bunch of exciting but terrifying new frontiers related to my business every day!
But all the stress is SOOOO much easier to deal with now that I have a solid internal process to help me cope with anxiety. Because, now, I have the option – based on how I’m feeling or what’s going on in my head or what I’m doing – to get rid of jittery feelings by working with my thoughts OR by moving my body.
In fact, being able to turn initially-not-so-great energy into something that actually energizes me and makes me feel good and confident and powerful is seriously one of the MOST POWERFUL skills I’ve ever learned in my life.
How You Can Tap Into This Hidden Superpower and Slay Your Anxiety For Once and For All
The coolest part? Learning this skill can be just as life-changing for YOU, especially if your anxious thoughts seem too fast or deep or slippery for you to work with mentally.
So try creating a fear anthem you belt out every time you start feeling on edge. Break into an epic dance party to shake anxious thoughts right outta your head. Even find a place or – non-living 😉 – thing you wanna kick or scream at.
The most important part is giving yourself permission to ALLOW and USE this energy rather than trying to contain or smother it.
That’s why I’m challenging you today, this hour, this minute even, to:
- Think of a fear or negative fear or something that freaks you the hell out.
- Let it FULLY express itself through movement or sound – whether that means you start dancing on the kitchen table or shouting into your pillow – for a full four or five minutes.
- Pause. Take a BIG exhale. Tune into your body, and notice how your energy has changed and how your relationship to that fear has changed.
And I get it. Doing this may feel uncomfortable or silly at first (so maybe you shouldn’t start out by doing it in a public parking lot like I did, lol!). But it can make a HUGE difference.
And if you try this exercise and find yourself struggling to hone into that energy and fully unlock your inner power…check out my NEW 16-week program, Freedom from Anxiety. In it, I delve even deeper into techniques that help you balance and relax your body and your mind. Plus, I also share all the tips and tricks you need to think mindfully and work with your negative thoughts, so you’ll have multiple tools you can use to feel more calm and more confident ASAP. To find out more about the course or to sign up today, click here!
My Biggest Tip For Coping With Anxiety Like a Badass
Like I’ve written before, having anxiety does not mean…
…that you are broken.
…that something is wrong with you.
…that you need to “fix” yourself to be worthy or capable of love or success.
All anxiety means is that you need to learn how to work with all the extra energy you have zippin’ through your body!
And once you figure out how to tap into this hidden power, you’ll be even MORE unstoppable than you already are. 😉
What way of “moving” your anxious energy – from dancing to shouting to chanting – do you want to try first? Tell me in the comments!