I recently contacted a renowned expert on anxiety with a question, and he kindly took the time to reply in detail. The guy is a Ph. D., so his advice carries a great deal of I thought I would share it with y'all so that you might benefit as well.
Q: Sometimes I know why I'm anxious, but other times it happens out-of-the-blue when I am not in a stressful situation and there seems to be no reason. Is this normal with GAD, and can you offer any suggestions on how to address this?
A: Sure, simply noticing that you are anxious without any conscious thoughts or worries is certainly possible. In fact, it's possible for all of us. Consider the possibility that some of that anxiety stems from some stimulus that entered your mind unconsciously and remained outside of conscious awareness. I wish I had time to detail how to respond to these moments, but I simply can't do it in an email. But I will give you this …
When you notice it, start by accepting it – what other choice do you have? If it upsets you that you've just become anxious, then you are fighting it, and that only makes your problem worse. So accepting it is a strategy. Then, learn some brief relaxation skills, some nice calming breathing skills. Take a moment, slow down, allow that anxiety to have a little space inside you. Your attitude could be something like this, "there's that anxiety again. It's fine this is happening. I'm now going to see if I can manipulate it by trying this [breathing skill, or whatever]. If it works and I calm down, great! If it doesn't work, and I'm still feeling anxious, that's okay too. I can handle being anxious." So "attitude" is an intervention. The number one thing is not to intervene because you must get rid of the feeling, or that the feeling is bad or wrong.