In Part I, I talked about anxiety being a big hairy beast that sits on your chest. Here in Part II, I want to talk about all those other times when the beast is not quite so big. It is more like a nagging pest. So here you have more room to work with it. First just notice how anxiety feels in your body. Probably not good, but notice the details. Does it upset your stomach? Is your blood pressure up? What else do you feel? At this point it’s helpful to acknowledge that thoughts affect the body. Taking a moment to acknowledge this interconnection is a big step in taking control of your thought habits.
The next step is to employ pratipaksha bhavana – replacing a negative thought with it’s opposite. Find a positive thought in relation to the situation. Perhaps it’s acknowledging that you are actually okay in this moment Are you safe in your home or wherever you are? Are you with family or friends that love you? Are you taking steps to care of yourself? Get this positive thought into a short phrase so that it’s easy to retrieve when the negative thoughts arise. Right now I’m doing just fine. And make sure it is a thought you really believe; one that brings a positive feeling tone to the body. It doesn’t mean the negative situation goes away, but you now have a choice as to what thoughts you will entertain.
Then the task is to keep bringing this positive thought in every time the anxiety arises. Remember that anxiety will produce stress hormones (see the Stress Response) and those, over time, will tax the immune system – exactly what we don’t want!