At this time, it is important to look after your physical health, practice good sleep hygiene and form strong and healthy support networks. Keeping up with a meditation practice or even just practicing breathing exercises has shown help some of us cope and feel more in control. Apps like Headspace or Insight Timer have many simple and easy-to-follow guided practices that are especially useful for beginners.
One may say that I have tried all these ways of coping with my anxiety but nothing seems to be working. This place feels helpless and vulnerable to some of us while it may feel bleak for others.
Yet sometimes, it is not so much what we are doing that is not helping. It is the attitude we go into doing these activities that needs some adjustment.
1. Having a different relationship with anxiety
In the article on existential anxiety, we mentioned that anxiety is part of being human. Whether we are conscious of it or not, anxiety is present in all of us. There is a purpose to all emotions, anxiety included. Anxiety is those up swinging emotions that makes us want to do something about our lives. It gears our body up for the things we aspire to achieve. It can be seen as a creative energy that challenges us to be more inventive with how we want to go about life.
Seen in this perspective, anxiety is not something to be eliminated but merely managed. We have to reconsider if anxiety deserves to be thrown away since it can be good for us. Rather, it is more about sitting more comfortably with anxiety, letting it to teach us what life is asking of us while not allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by it.
Sometimes, when we are overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, we feel like it is all we can think about. Our anxiety becomes us and we become anxiety.
The Buddhist teaching of bearing witness can aid in our awareness that we are more than just our anxiety. It allows us to say
‘I feel anxious. I have anxiety. I am being anxious. But I am not anxiety. I am more than my anxiety. ’
Some of you may be wondering, ‘how does this work?’
Try to imagine this: you are looking at a cloud in the sky. You who notices the cloud is not the cloud but the observer. Next, move your attention to another object around you. The fact that you can identify it means that you are not the object. This is the same with our anxiety. When we watch anxiety come and go within us, we become witnesses of the emotion. We are not the emotion.
This is a healthy way to look at anxiety or even other difficult emotions as it allows us to honour its presence. Yet, we do not need to identify ourselves as anxiety. Our lives are more than just our feelings. We are also formed by our values.
2. Write it down
Can you allow your anxiety to motivate and guide you to a more authentic and purposeful life? What can your anxiety teach you about your relationship with yourself, others and your world around you? Jotting all your thoughts and feelings about these questions in your journal can be a helpful way to find out how to cope with your anxiety in your own unique way.
3. Talk to a therapist
When you have exhausted all the options and none is not helping, you can consider seeing a therapist or counsellor. There are many forms of therapy out there and each therapist works differently with their own style and specialization.
There are a few types of talk therapy that we recommend for anxiety issues:
Existential Therapy– specializes in helping clients to reconnect with their meanings in the face of anxiety. See our article on ‘There is no one way to live’ for more information about this kind of therapy.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT)– specializes in helping you understand how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feeling and behavior. It teaches you coping skills to cope with specific issues.
Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) – In simple terms, ACT is a form of therapy that helps individuals to focus on two key concepts -acceptance and commitment. It aims to help individuals accept what is out of their control (e.g. the presence of anxiety), and commit to actions that are in line with their values (e.g. going to a family dinner). Thus, the focus of ACT is not to change or reduce the frequency of anxious thoughts and feelings and bodily sensations, but to reduce the struggle with these experiences. The practice of ACT is also very much based on mindfulness, so ACT interventions could include the practice of mindfulness exercises.
Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy using the creative process in a safe therapeutic space to improve psychological and emotional health. It is open to all – art experience or skills are not required. It may be a transformative intervention for people with anxiety, especially if they have difficulties verbalising their struggles, or if they tend to be overwhelmed by emotions or ruminations.
EMDR Therapy is the therapeutic intervention recommended when anxiety and panic attacks stem from traumatic experiences and memories. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing: it is an evidence-based modality used to address adverse life experiences that contribute to disruptive symptoms in present living.
Who Can Help?
Specialising in providing individual and group therapy services to those who are going through major transitions in life.
Schedule a First Therapy Session with us
The start of your journey to healing. In this Introduction session, you will meet and get to know your therapist, and allow them to get to know you too. This is a good time to get a feel of what working together will be like and if you feel comfortable in the presence of the therapist. The therapist will tell you more about Existential Therapy and what a session is like, as well as field answer any questions you may have about therapy.
You will also get to chance to voice what problems you are facing and the therapist will be able to give you some guidance about how therapy can help.
This session is 50 minutes long and must be booked in advance.
Hi, I'm Mag: a UKCP-accredited counselling psychologist and founder of Singapore’s first ever existential practice. My care philosophy is not to diagnose, label, or categorise but rather to work with the individual in front of me in the here and now.
My clinical credentials certainly play a significant role in defining my professional identity. But to foster a deeper connection and authenticity, I invite you to discover my other “Selves”, the various facets of who I am.