5 Ways to Move from Anxiety to Ease in NYC
By Bart Beckermann, L.Ac.
In the city that never sleeps, can you relax? Can you actually rest? If you are having trouble unwinding, you are probably suffering from anxiety. It’s no wonder, NYC is a crazy place. It is one of the most densely populated places on the planet with super tall buildings that block out and obstruct our sense of the sky. . . . and grounding, it doesn’t exactly come natural here, does it? Anxiety plagues us all from time to time and definitely some of us more than others. Here’s a guide to help you move from NYC Anxiety into Big City Ease. For those of you suffering from anxiety who are not living or visiting our fair city, this advice could still be helpful.
Step 1 - Accepting and engaging your anxiety
Anxiety manifests differently for many people, what I have found to be useful in the treatment room is identifying how it shows up for you. In order to overcome your anxiety, it can be very helpful to make friends with it instead of running away from it. Accepting how you feeling and making space for it to exist within you can be hugely transformative. By changing your relationship with anxiety and learning to be okay with it even if it’s uncomfortable at first, it will begin to lose it’s power over you.
Since anxiety can present differently for so many people, it’s good to know what it’s like within you. As you shake hands with the anxiety and start to explore it, I recommend asking yourself a few questions. How does the anxiety present in you?
Where do you feel it in your body?
Spinning Thoughts? This is when your mind is moving 90 miles per minute and potentially jumping from thought to thought. There may also be a sense of mental churning, rumination and circular thoughts. If you are experiencing something like this, notice if the ground seems far away. It is probable that you are not grounded, and if you are not, it sure seems like an excellent opportunity to ground and connect to the Earth. If grounding is a foreign concept to you, have no fear. There are tons of meditation, yoga, qigong, or spiritual teachers from different traditions out there that you could learn from. Feel free to check the meditation that I recorded for this article.
Are you feeling the anxiety in your chest? Are you “in” your body? Or are you “in front” of yourself? By being energetically “in front” of yourself, what I mean is that your energy is focused in front of and possibly outside of your body. To get a sense of what I mean by “in” your body or “in front,” sit down in a chair. For the sake of contrast, sit back into the chair so that you are aware of your back connecting with the back of the chair. Make sure your heels are touching the ground. See what you notice. Next, lean forward with your head and body, putting your weight on the balls of your feet, still remaining seated. Feel how that posture feels. Now go back to sitting “back” into your chair. Did you notice anything? When feeling anxiety in the chest it can be helpful to focus on the back of the center of heart area, to “rest into” your back.
Are you feeling the anxiety in your abdomen? This can be happening while your thoughts are spinning out of control. This is because from a Chinese Medicine perspective, the Spleen houses the Yi, the spirit of thought and intention, which is the mind. From a western perspective, it's the gut/brain axis. Try placing a hand on your abdomen where you feel the anxiety to bring awareness to it. You may find words present or a need that has been unmet. Taking the time to sit with it and listen can be helpful to allow it to move, to be expressed.
Step 2 - Slow Down
When anxiety is present, it may be challenging to be in the present moment. If you are focusing on the future or the past, this can also take you out of your body and somewhere far far away. Come back! Notice if there is an overwhelming sense of urgency and things needing to happen NOW. Ask yourself if that is really the truth, and if whatever it is that is SO important can wait, even for a few minutes. You can always come back to it if you need to, right? It’s not “going” anywhere. Kinda funny how that toxic sense of urgency and “NOW” can exist simultaneously with being focused on the future. That’s because it’s actually a false NOW. This brings me to Step 3. . . .
Step 3 - Breathe
Just breathe. Many traditions use the breath to come back to the present moment. Breathe in. Breathe out. You can count your breath if you need help. Try doing 20 slow inhales and exhales with a pause in between and see how you feel.
Step 4 - Get help
Seek out a professional. Acupuncture can be extremely helpful. It breaks the cycle and stops the patterns long enough for new neural pathways to develop. It clears stuck and stagnant energy, making more internal space for your authentic self to emerge. 5 Element acupuncture is particularly effective for treating anxiety since it’s primary purpose is to bring about the balance of archetypal Elements within a person by reconnecting and reminding someone who they at their deepest constitutional level. Therapy can be helpful at understanding what has got you so wound up. Just having a neutral human being to talk to without judgement can be profound. It’s even better when they can mirror back to you things you may be missing yourself, give you perspective. Medical Qigong and Spiritual Healing can take you even deeper into understanding what the deep gift is beneath the anxiety by reconnecting you with the Divine.
Step 5 - Did somebody say CBD?
Yes, CBD (cannabidiol) is being used to treat lots of people with anxiety, and quite successfully at that. Radical Roots has developed a formula called Rest & Relax which combines Organic Full Spectrum CBD Hemp Extract with Chinese Herbs that calm the mind, clear heat, nourish the heart, liver, and kidneys, yin and blood. The result is way more chilled out and sleeping peoples. We have seen great results in our NYC practice! Read about it here.
If anxiety has been keeping you from being yourself, come in a get a treatment. Don’t let anxiety define and limit your life, whether you are in NYC or anywhere else. While more and more people are suffering from anxiety, more and more people are learning how to navigate it and turn it around. You can too!