Dealing with Anxiety – Patricia Kay Youngson

~ By Patricia Kay Youngson, RN ~

Nobody likes feeling anxious and we all do at times.  Anxiety, of course, is usually a feeling of fear when we don’t know what we are afraid of, as opposed to fear where we know what we are afraid of.  Eighteen percent of the United States population suffers from an actual anxiety disorder–generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias.  Generally, these are treated with tranquilizes or possibly counseling.

What can you do on your own to deal with anxiety?  When we are feeling anxiety or any other uncomfortable emotion the tendency is to fight against it or try to distract ourselves.  However these are not the most effective ways to deal with anxiety.  Mindfulness is a recommendation that seems to be most effective and is said to decrease the anxious feelings.

How do you do this?  In his CD “Break through Difficult Emotions” Shinzen Young suggests keen attention to how your body feels, to your anxious feelings, and to your thoughts.  In other words, settle into it, hang with it, and greet it with acceptance and compassion.  Easier said than done, of course. This takes practice and his CD includes guided mindfulness meditations for any uncomfortable emotion.

We can also look at the possibility of viewing the anxiety as a messenger with valuable information about what you fear.  It can be helpful to bring this to the surface.

Other techniques involve paying attention to your breathing.  Deep slow belly breathing stimulates the relaxation response.  It also helps to exhale longer than you inhale.  A specific breathing practice to reduce anxiety is suggested by Dr. Andrew Weil.  He took this from a yoga practice–pranayama.  Inhale to a count of four, hold the breath to a count of seven and then exhale to a count of eight.  The exhale should be done with the tongue on the hard palate behind the teeth with pursed lips.  Repeat eight times twice a day.

Another relaxation technique is called Cook’s Hookup.  1) If right handed cross your left ankle over your right ankle.  Visa versa if left handed.  2) Extend your arms in front of you with the backs of your hands together.  Cross your right hand over the left at the wrist and interlock your fingers.  4) Roll your hands toward you turning them under, resting your hands and arms on your chest.  5) Inhale through your nose slowly with your tongue on the roof of your mouth and then exhale with your tongue down.  6) Hold this position and breathe slowly and deeply for one or two minutes.

Of course, we know that anxiety accompanies pain issues, exacerbating them, so decreasing anxiety will decrease your pain. Best wishes in dealing with any anxiety you may have.

Patricia Kay Youngson

Patricia Kay Youngson

Patricia Kay Youngson RN, Counselor, specializing in chronic pain and presurgical consultations. E-mail: Website:

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