Full of Anxiety? Empty Your Cup of Tea
Feeling full of anxiety is a common experience. Anxiety has a way of infiltrating both brain and body. When we're consumed by anxiety, it becomes difficult to think about anything else, and the emotions and sensations that we pay attention to the most are those that relate to anxiety. Also, anxiety impacts what we do or don't do. Basically, anxiety has a way of taking us over. We become full of anxiety. We can do something about this. If you're tired of being full of anxiety, empty your cup of tea.
What It's Like to Be Full of Anxiety
To be full of anxiety is to be consumed by it. When someone lives with intense anxiety, he or she frequently experiences it day and night. Anxiety interrupts daytime activities, and it interferes with sleep at night. (The [Dysfunctional] Relationship Between Sleep and Anxiety).
Anxiety takes over our thoughts and emotions. Anxiety and racing thoughts go hand-in-hand. Often, there are so many thoughts rushing through our heads so rapidly that they spin out of control. When we're full of anxiety, thoughts and emotions are dominated by worries, what-ifs, fears, can'ts, shouldn'ts, preoccupation with what others think, or whether we're good enough.
Anxiety spills into the body, too (Anxiety in the body: Physical Side Effects of Anxiety). It can impact every system: cardiovascular, respiratory, excretory, digestive, endocrine, immune, and more.
When anxiety takes over like this, we are truly full of anxiety. If we're full of anxiety, there isn't room for anything else. There isn't room for positive experiences and thoughts, joy, peace or calm. It can even be hard to move, to take action and make progress.
Be Less Full of Anxiety--Empty Your Cup of Tea
To reduce anxiety and enhance mental health and wellbeing, it's important to make room for the good. A Zen Buddhist story about a cup of tea highlights the importance of emptying your own cup of tea, in this case, your anxiety-filled mind and body. In the video at the end of this post, I tell the story of the cup of tea.
These three tips will help you empty your cup of tea so are you are less full of anxiety.
- Breathe. Slow, deep breathing has been proven to calm both body and mind. As your heart rate slows and your brain is washed in calm-inducing oxygen, anxiety shrinks, creating room for you to experience positive sensations and thoughts. Explore different breathing techniques to calm anxiety and panic, and use them to create space for peace.
- Observe rather than judge. The anxious brain tends to be a judging brain. When we're anxious, we're on alert for problems. We watch for things that could somehow be harmful to us or someone we care about. We also watch ourselves and others: are we doing something to cause others to judge us? Should we have said or done something differently? Surely we're worthless. Surely we must feel guilty. Surely that person over there is rudely watching us. Anxiety causes us to judge this way, and when we judge, our anxiety inevitably increases until we're full of it. Shrink anxiety by breaking this pattern. Practice observing without judging. When you catch yourself judging, reframe your thoughts to make them neutral. For example, "I shouldn't have said that. I sounded stupid." becomes, "I said that, and it can't be changed. I don't know what others thought about me, and life is continuing just fine." Neutral observations help empty your cup of tea.
- Take breaks. When we're full of anxiety, we're driven by it. Our thoughts race incessantly. Our bodies are almost constantly tense. There's no opportunity to let anything else in because we're always agitated. Empty your cup by taking frequent breaks. Step away from what you're doing, breathe deeply, and just be. You don't have to rush to fill a gap, The point is to create a gap.
Emptying Your Cup of Tea to Lessen Anxiety
Tune in to hear the story about the tea cup -- and anxiety.
Image by Mr. Mintjam
NCC, T. (2016, July 28). Full of Anxiety? Empty Your Cup of Tea, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/07/full-of-anxiety-empty-your-cup-of-tea
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Anxiety takes over us
Anxiety consumes us
I Wish it was easy to let go, but a person must let go. Exercise helps, but haven't done much jogging lately and I feel anxiety stealing any energy I have. I'll try some of your advice in your blog. Thanks.