Understanding anxieties and learning to cope with them are massive undertakings. For some, the goal is to live alongside their anxiety using a healthy outlet, rather than seeing stress as a purely antagonistic force to be beaten and overcome.
While anxiety and panic seem all-encompassing in their overwhelming presence, they are much more than a detrimental feeling. Anxiety and fear are the body’s natural responses to danger. These feelings trigger a natural “fight or flight” instinct within us to preserve one’s life. Anxiety disorders, however, take this natural response and turn it on full blast. We begin to create fear where there may not be any or blow concerns out of proportion.
With fear being such a natural part of us, working to eliminate it altogether would be an act of denying ourselves part of what makes us human. Rather than do this, it is also possible to approach fear and anxiety safely. For me, the solution came from an unlikely source: horror movies and media.
This strategy may sound counter-intuitive, and suggesting that Chucky or Jason Vorhees are the solutions to anxiety is not where this is going. However, looking at the mechanics of this strategy could provide insight into how to create a safe place to experience your anxiety. As I put on a movie, or watch a video, or play a video game, I am inviting and expecting my anxieties to kick in. This act in itself is what already makes this experience different. I am already exercising my control by merely placing the disk in the DVD player or console. I can dictate when I am confronting my anxiety. That level of power works in creating a safe space to practice my coping techniques. Even after inviting my anxieties and learning about this, I am never out of control of my environment. At any point, I am always holding the controller. I can pause and shut down this media at any point. I, myself, can make Jason Vorhees stop in his tracks and never move again.
In this example, Jason himself is not there without a purpose. Using Jason as a symbol and trigger for all of my anxieties, I can focus them and identify them. Instead of the overwhelming, all-encompassing entity that anxiety can often embody, I can condense it into a single guy in a hockey mask. One person, on one screen.
Creating this space where you can have control over each step of your anxiety can help in practicing coping mechanisms safely. A place where you can decide how uncomfortable is too uncomfortable, and then having the agency to act on that is a first step to healthily living alongside our anxieties. Acknowledging and addressing anxiety is a challenging, significant step in healing, but understanding the natural responses behind anxiety can help in taking that first leap.
At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms. Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.