Nobody likes it when anxiety strikes; that awful feeling of a knot in the pit of your stomach, racing
thoughts, sweaty hands and a pounding heart. Anxiety comes in a lot of different forms: some
people experience panic attacks, some have social anxiety and find it difficult to interact with others,
some may suffer from various types of phobias. However all of anxiety comes with very unpleasant
physical symptoms and a person’s wish to “get rid of the symptoms”.
From a Gestalt psychological perspective anxiety is understood as “excitement without a breath”-
where a breath is oxygen taken from our environments and also can be understood as external
support from others. Anxiety is like stored energy that stems from times where we felt a lot of
emotion and we were usually alone and not supported to help us express that emotion. That energy
now is trapped in our body and its being triggered by different things.


Pay attention to the sensations in your body– before you name it as anxiety, what bodily
sensation do you feel and observe? How does it feel in your body and where do you feel it?
Usually this is the hard thing to do as we don’t want to focus on the sensations-they are
unpleasant and we rather distract ourselves or numb it then pay attention to it. FEELING IT is
a part of healing it

Accept your anxiety-this is probably the hardest thing to do because you usually come to
therapy to “get rid of it”; not being afraid of your own anxiety is half of the success; the
paradox lies in the power of acceptance; if you change your attitude towards your anxiety
and you have curiosity and self-compassion the symptoms usually subside. Imagine the
support you would give to an anxious child and treat yourself similarly

Find the meaning of your anxiety– very often underneath your anxiety is another feeling
that may not be supported by others; like anger or excitement…when those feelings are not
expressed the energy of those feelings remains in our body as anxiety. Finding the meaning
of your anxiety and try to support the expression of it will help to shift the anxiety.

Avoid avoiding– feeling anxious is ok, but avoiding doing things because of it it’s not ok. For
example if you are anxious of flying and you start avoiding it as this brings a temporary
relief) you can be sure that your anxiety will grow. FEEL it and do it anyway.

Breathe– in Gestalt theory anxiety is understood as an excitement without the breath; when
we get scared we hold our breaths. No surprise that so many anxiety strategies focus on
breathing techniques. First thing is to notice your breath, and focus on making your exhale
relatively longer than your inhale.

Remember we all experience anxiety from time to time but if you suffer a lot from the overwhelming
symptoms of anxiety and can’t function because of it consider finding suitable therapy. You do not
need to live in fear all your life. There are successful ways to treat anxiety that would help you to
manage your symptoms and enjoy your life again.

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