Sometimes anxiety means nothing
This week I had the pleasure of cohabitating with anxiety. I don’t know if you have met her. She comes around at the most unhelpful times and can be incredibly distracting. Even if you try and forget that she is there, you find yourself scrounging around your desk at work, sure that there is a piece of antiquated chocolate somewhere. Or you know you should go to bed but you decide to watch one more episode on Netflix with one more glass of wine, even though you know that when your alarm goes off at 5:15 am you will 100% regret that decision. And if you are really lucky, you will be exhausted at 5:15 am anyway because anxiety decided that 2am was the perfect time to mentally run through every aspect of your life at hyper speed. After all, who needs sleep.
I hope you can’t relate.
I know many of you can.
So why am I so anxious? No great reason (that’s the super annoying part). Sure, I had a busy weekend. Sure, I am traveling for a conference this week. But I was busy with all good things over the weekend. I WANT to go to this conference, and honestly, traveling doesn’t really bother me. (Ok, ok, I am a little crazy about getting to the airport at least 2 hours early and getting through security STAT but aside from that, travel doesn’t bother me).
That’s what makes the uninvited appearance of anxiety so aggravating.
Are you wondering why I am telling you all this? Because I have gotten better at cohabitating with anxiety and I thought this may interest you.
I would love to tell you how to get RID of anxiety but unfortunately there isn’t an easy fix for that. It definitely helps to do breathing. It definitely helps to address any ruminating thoughts with logic. But at the end of the day, the symptoms may still be there.
That’s why I talk about cohabitating with anxiety. It may be something that you haven’t heard of before and it may be a game changer. If you try and get rid of anxiety, while anxious, and it doesn’t work, the anxiety can grow.
Nobody wants that.
So how do I do this? First, recognize the physical symptoms of anxiety. For me, I get a constant (and sometimes intense) fluttering in my chest. I find myself clenching my jaw. Sometimes I have chest pain (don’t worry, I have had a full cardiac workup). I already mentioned the 2am wakening.
These physical symptoms can feel terrible. These are the same physical symptoms that occur when we perceive that we are in danger. And this is how our brains process it, so the anxiety potentiates itself.
But what if we could separate the perception of danger from these physical symptoms? What if we could feel them and NOT potentiate further anxiety? What if we could let the anxiety be in the background and pay it NO MIND?
Sounds good, right? We know resisting anxiety doesn’t help so we may as well try this.
After you identify the physical sensations in your body, put your hand to your chest and tell yourself, out loud, “I am safe”. Yes, the combination of the physical touch and the spoken word is important, don’t forget it’s your brain we are messing with.
Then take a few slow deep breaths, unclenching your jaw and dropping your shoulders. Check in with those symptoms as if you were an outside evaluator.
Tell yourself “I can manage these symptoms; they don’t actually mean anything is wrong.”
Rinse and repeat.
Anxiety can hang around, she will leave eventually, especially if you don’t try and shove her out the door (she’s spiteful like that). If we let her hang out in the background, we won’t feel so distracted and so triggered by every little last thing.
And yes, this works at work.
And in the airport.
And at 2am.
You ARE safe. Your body is just freaking out on your behalf.
But you have YOU to support yourself, and we both know how good you are at taking care of people.
P.S. Do you struggle with processing the feelings of anxiety? Are you not sure if you are doing it right? Do you find that these types of feelings can paralyze you from taking action? Schedule a consult call today and let’s get you going in the direction that you have been wanting to go in all along.