5 Buddhist psychological techniques that can help prevent or reduce anxiety.
Anxiety is a psychological concern that every individual will experience once or even several times in his or her lifetime. Although it’s natural, it turns into a problem when the exhibiting symptoms become more severe or frequent that it already disrupts the sufferer’s daily life.
If unaddressed, anxiety could lead to other health issues like insomnia, depression and other psychological problems. The negative effects can also manifest physiologically from as simple as nausea, dizziness, muscle tension, up to the more severe anxiety or stress-triggered problems like increased blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, etc.
Anxiety is often understood as similar to fear. But they are entirely different concepts and experiences. Fear is the body’s reaction to an actual dangerous or frightening situation. It’s our natural “fight or flight” mechanism. On the other hand, anxiety is the psychological perception of danger brought about by too much anticipation or speculation of future events. If fear has actual triggers, anxiety often involves worrying on uncertain things.
The interesting thing about fear and anxiety is that they are both processed on the same part of the brain which is amygdala. Additionally a fearful event or experience can also be the trigger of anxiety in the future.
If your daily life is already affected by anxiety, here are some Buddhist psychological techniques that will certainly help you find relief:
1. Breathing exercises
Breathing exercises are a simple but effective way to relieve tension, stress, and anxiety. It is a technique used by Buddhists and is also integral to yoga and other physical health regimens. When you are dealing with anxiety, you should focus more on practicing long and relaxing exhalations. Long and smooth exhalations have an effect of relaxing the vagal-vagus nerve. It also serves as a reassurance to your mind that “everything is okay”.
2. Acknowledge your worries and anxieties in a positive way
When your mind starts to think of events which your know are triggers of anxiety, you should “welcome” or acknowledge them in a positive way instead of doing the negative and start worrying. Constant practice of acknowledging your worries eventually makes them less important and they will pass through your mind quicker than before.
3. Write down what you feel
Studies have shown that acknowledging and writing down your feelings, worries, or anxiety triggers can actually help relieve you from worrying. It provides the opportunity for you to contemplate, to vent those anxious feelings, and eventually move on the next page of your journal or enjoy what you have at the moment.
4. Question anxiety and understand its logic
Another effective technique is to question anxiety or its triggers and try to understand the causes of these worries. For example; why do you have to be anxious about your upcoming job interview? Perhaps, you worry too much on the scenario of being rejected. And the logic here is that, being rejected in an interview is not really a bad thing since it will serve as a reference and even a good practice for your succeeding interviews if you are unsuccessful with the first.
5. The Buddhist practice of proper attention
The title might be complicated but the Buddha simply describes it as “understanding the appeal, drawbacks and escape from behaviors that cause suffering”. It short, it’s the simple identification of the benefits, drawbacks and the best solution for the anxiety trigger or worrying thought.
From the example above on the anxiety of being interviewed for a job, the benefit of worrying can be the opportunity for you to prepare your materials and yourself. The drawback is obviously the risk of you trembling and shaking on the day of the interview itself. And finally, the best mind escape or solution is to think that the interview will be a valuable experience you may acquire and that there are several options in the job market anyway.