• Coping with Anxiety Means Naming It

    Naming What’s Happening – What’s Your Anxiety Story?

    This is the last blog about recognizing anxiety, using our new and handy acronym – ANN. Quick review:

    A is for annoyed Acceptance. Rather than denying what’s happening, we greet anxious feelings with annoyed acceptance.

    N is for Noticing. Because we’re so often in overdrive, we rarely take time to pause and notice what’s happening when we’re activated by anxiety. Pay attention and notice what your body is telling you. Notice the narrative that you’re creating.

    And today we arrive at N, which stands for Naming. Have you ever heard the phrase, “you have to name it to tame it?” I welcome you to employ this strategy with your anxiety, giving it a name, maybe even naming it after that overstaying guest I referenced a few weeks ago – what an honor! I won’t go so far as to ask you to befriend it, but part of learning to live with anxiety is recognizing it and naming it. When you find yourself in a moment in which you sense your anxiety is on the rise, for example, before you have to speak in front of a group or walk into a party (when people have parties again!), take a moment to pause, greet and acknowledge Auntie Angst. The simple act of “naming” what is happening can indeed tame it, disempowering it from waging war against you. You’re letting it know that you see it, but that now is not the time that you’ll engage.

    Take Control of Anxiety by Putting Words to It

    One of the most overwhelming aspects of any unpleasant emotion is that we sometimes find ourselves immersed in it, yet we struggle to come up with the words to name it. The feelings overtake us, and we feel disempowered, sometimes even to the point of panic in which we are fully out of control of our emotions and bodies. Last week, I asked you to practice “noticing” where anxiety takes hold of your body and how it plays out in the narrative running through your mind. Now I am asking you to use that data to start naming what is happening and when. Here’s a little formula:

    1. Accept that anxiety is trickling in.

    2. Notice body/sensation recognition + story

    3. Naming it – put together the two first steps and give words to your experience: I know I am feeling anxious when my stomach churns and I worry about things that are out of my control. This is one of those times. 

    In the next several weeks, we’ll get into some nitty gritty techniques for what comes next after you’ve gone through the ANN exercise, but a very basic and helpful next step is to simply do a self check-in – ask yourself: What do I need right now to feel better? What can I do right now to stay in the present moment?

    The curse of anxiety is that it pulls us toward itself, 10 miles down the road, rather than allowing us to dig into the here and now. By accepting, recognizing, and naming what is happening in the midst of an anxious moment, rather than getting swept up in the anxiety wave, you steady your feet under you, firmly planting in the present. Online counseling for anxiety is something that women see benefit from, usually not in lots of time. I can help you maneuver through your relationship with anxiety so that you regain some of the control and confidence that you may feel you’ve lost.

    About the author:

    Leah Rockwell, LPC, LCPC is a licensed professional counselor in PA and MD, providing online counseling services for women. She’s a lovingly direct counselor and a co-parenting mom of two daughters, determined to make the world a better place for tomorrow’s girls. In former lives, she was a Spanish teacher, a sex education instructor, a wine vendor, and she is pretty sure she was a mermaid.