Engage in prayer – direct your prayer to your higher power, asking for guidance and support.
There are endless research studies that show that exercise is the best medicine available! Go to a gym, do some stretching and yoga, or get a good aerobic workout.
Sometimes it’s really helpful to work through emotions by using creative expression. There are a variety of ways to do that depending on your preference. You can journal, draw, paint, collage, sculpt or anything else your imagination allows. Here are some specific suggestions.
Journal: This exercise has several parts, start by spending about five minutes a “wild mind” exercise. Put your pen on the paper and write “When I am anxious, I… and keep writing. Don’t stop for five minutes. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense, it you spell correctly or anything else, just write, write, write.
When the five minutes are up, read what you wrote. You might find some of it surprising. Now, continue writing, but this time, pick out a theme that came up in your “wild mind” exercise that you would like to explore. Consider this theme from as many angles as possible: look for positives, as well as negatives, look for solutions, look for ways that this theme might relate to your recovery work, the tools you learned at CRC and the principles of the 12 Steps. Finally, write one thing you learned from this exploration that you want to apply to your life in the next week, maybe something you want to do differently, something you want to explore with your peers in group or one thing you want to learn more about.
Write a letter: Write a letter to your anxiety. Explain to your anxiety how it is helpful to you (yes, it is, even if it doesn’t seem like it now) and how it gets in your way. Set some boundaries with your anxiety about how you would like it to interact with you and explain those thoroughly in your letter.
Draw or paint a picture: Using colored pens, colored pencils or acrylic paints, create a picture of how you are feeling right now. It doesn’t have to be a literal masterpiece—you can use shape or color to express your feelings. Sit with that for a moment, step away from it and try and look at your picture with a neutral eye. What do you notice about it? If you had never seen it before, how would you describe it? What might you surmise about the person who painted it?
Now set that picture aside. After you have read these instructions, close your eyes and allow your imagination to wander, creating an image of a peaceful, safe soothing place. This might be a place you’ve been to and know well or someplace that you have created in your mind’s eye for yourself. Open your eyes and paint or draw the sense of the place. Again, it doesn’t have to be an accurate, representational masterpiece, just something that will remind you of that soothing peaceful environment. Practice looking at your picture and transporting yourself back to that place in your mind, noticing the sense of safety and peace you feel as you do so.
This strategy is also known as “changing the channel”. When all other techniques don’t work, sometimes this is the one that really helps. It’s based on the idea that the brain isn’t very good at doing analytical things and emotions at the same time. So, if we challenge the brain to focus on something analytical, it has to shift out of its obsessive anxiousness.