Urge Surfing for Anxiety

Urge Surfing for Anxiety

In a torrid sea of thoughts and emotions, moments of anxiety can seem like a wave crashing down upon you.

Anxiety can feel mentally, emotionally, and physically overwhelming.

The urge to panic during an anxiety attack can be crippling, and make you feel trapped in your own body.

Those who suffer from anxiety often practice various techniques for keeping anxiety in check.

One such technique is urge surfing for anxiety, and it may work for you.

Let's examine urge surfing for anxiety together.

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Urge Surfing for Anxiety: Definition

Urge surfing is a technique developed to help people gain awareness of their urges and engage them.

Urge surfing helps you confront your urge, without satisfying it.

Urges are a necessary part of human life. They're natural.

Most humans share basic urges like survival, eating, drinking, sleeping and sex.

Other urges include a desire for love and companionship, procreation, making a home, caring for the less fortunate, and being at peace.

Unfortunately, we share other, more negative urges like jealousy, envy, anger, prejudice, hate, and greed.

And many struggles with addictive urges for alcohol, drugs, tobacco, food, gambling, and sex.

In fact, urge surfing was originally developed to help addicts overcome addictive urges.

So, what is urge surfing?

Urge surfing is a mental technique where you imagine your urge is like an ocean wave.

But instead of swimming away from the wave or distracting yourself from it, you "ride out" the urge to be anxious much like a surfer does a wave.

Urge surfing involves facing your urge to be anxious, being aware of its short shelf-life, and patiently enduring the urge to be anxious until it's over.

You must realize that your urge to be anxious may be powerful like a wave, but it's temporary.

Let the wave of anxiety take its natural course- and mentally ride it like a surfer on a surfboard.

Urge surfing works on the principle that if you ignore anxiety or simply try to distract yourself from it, your anxiety only gains power.

The key to urge surfing is facing your moment of anxiety, and enduring it without letting it control you.

An ocean wave occurs in four stages, so urge surfing has four steps for overcoming anxiety.

Urge Surfing for Anxiety: Step 1 - Trigger

Those who suffer from anxiety know that anxiety can strike anytime for no apparent reason.

And yet, many people are familiar with their own anxiety triggers- external stimuli that aggravate anxiety.

The first step in urge surfing for anxiety is to identify your anxiety triggers.

Awareness of your own mind and body and your personal anxiety triggers will allow you to begin urge surfing for anxiety.

If you have anxiety related to stairs or elevators, be aware of your destinations: malls, office buildings, doctor's offices, etc.

If you know you're going to a party, predict which anxiety triggers like a big crowd or meeting people for the first time might create a wave of anxiety.

Imagine you're a surfer lying on your surfboard, on the lookout for the perfect wave.

You spot a place in the ocean where the water twists and triggers a new wave.

You're aware of the wave that's forming.

Urge surfing for anxiety means awareness of your anxiety triggers and when they create waves of anxiety. 

Urge Surfing for Anxiety: Step 2 - Rise

You're on your surfboard and you've spotted the water trigger an ocean wave.

Now the wave begins to rise.

When urge surfing for anxiety, ask yourself- Where's this wave going?

How fast is this wave rising?

Awareness of the rising wave allows you to better predict its course, and how it will affect you.

Urge surfing for anxiety means being mindful of how a rising wave of anxiety is making you feel.

A crucial part of urge surfing for anxiety is being present in the moment.

Don't allow your mind to wander.

Breathe, focus and predict the rising wave of anxiety.

Is your rising wave of anxiety making you feel trapped, paralyzed, numb, or afraid?

Is your rising wave of anxiety making you feel nauseous, weak, achy, or shaky?

Urge surfing for anxiety involves being in tune with your rising anxiety.

Don't ignore it or allow yourself to be distracted.

You are a surfer lying on your surfboard, paddling towards the rising wave, so you can overcome it.

Urge Surfing for Anxiety: Step 3 - Peak

The peak of an ocean wave is when it's at its highest and most powerful.

This means the peak is also the scariest part of surfing.

Urge surfing for anxiety is about finding the courage and control to stand up on your mental surfboard and ride the wave of anxiety.

So far you've embraced the wave, noticed its trigger, and tracked its rising power.

Now, it's time to ride the wave, which means staying on top of it without letting it control you.

Urge surfing for anxiety means realizing that a wave of anxiety may be powerful at its peak, but it won't last long.

Waves are short-lived, and urges towards anxiety can be too.

When urge surfing for anxiety, your confidence to ride out the wave comes from your awareness and acknowledgment that it's temporary.

In fact, enduring the temporary discomfort of a wave of anxiety will give new power over it.

Because next time it won't seem so scary and powerful.

Remember, urge surfing for anxiety means facing down your urge towards anxiety, so that next time it won't wield the same power over you.

Urge Surfing for Anxiety: Step 4 – Fall

For every rise and peak of an ocean wave, there is an inevitable fall.

Urge surfing for anxiety is about feeling empowered by the awareness that your urge towards anxiety will inevitably fall.

You are a surfer standing on your surfboard, and you rode the wave as its power peaked.

Now, the wave is falling, losing its power and slowly returning to the rippling sea.

Not only did you not drown, but you feel empowered by the experience.

When urge surfing for anxiety, the end goal is to know that you didn't avoid your urge towards anxiety.

And you didn't try to distract yourself from it either.

You embraced your wave of anxiety and endured it without letting it control you.

One of the many benefits of urge surfing for anxiety is feeling empowered.

You are not the victim of your urge towards anxiety, instead, you are the victor.

Urge surfing for anxiety will also help you approach future waves of anxiety with more confidence.

Like a surfer in the ocean, the more you surf and the bigger ocean waves you tackle, the better you get at urge surfing.


Like any skill or technique, urge surfing for anxiety takes practice.

It takes a mental and emotional commitment.

Even the most skilled surfers had to learn to surf and still fall off their surfboards from time to time.

Anxiety is a serious condition and can manifest in many different forms.

Your anxiety is as individual as you are.

For this reason, seek treatment for anxiety from a licensed professional counselor.

A licensed professional counselor can help you better identify and diagnose your anxiety.

They can help you design psychological techniques like urge surfing for anxiety, that are personally designed for you.

Don't go surfing alone- get professional help today.


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March 30th, 2023

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