Anxiety: Overcoming the Monster
Heart thumping into my ears. A fullness in my throat – is someone choking me? The sweat pools and my deodorant surely can’t keep up with this river of emotion. Do I swear, cry, scream, or run away to the countryside? I just want to put on my flannel pants and curl up with my pillow, but I can’t sleep. My mind races and I visit every hour on the clock. Get me off of this rollercoaster.
I live it, breathe it, teach it, counsel about it, and understand it. And it sucks. Worrying about things I have no control over and obsessing about things I shouldn’t. Why do I worry that my daughter did not plug in her computer last night for school when SHE is not worried that it will die half-way through school? Why do I worry about the man on the corner holding the sign? Why do I worry about the couple at the next table having an argument? Why does one comment from a coworker echo through my head all night long and get relived repeatedly without the ability to LET IT GO!
It’s not my fault. There are chemicals involved (serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine) that are all out of whack. There are genetics that can play a role if it runs in your family. A stressful environment can light the fuse that causes the anxiety explosion to erupt.
So what do you do?
- 1. Talk about it. Anxiety is common. I often say to friends and patients that if everyone who had anxiety told the person next to them at the grocery store, the frozen food aisle could be one big group counseling session. If something overwhelms you or if a co-worker pisses you off – TALK ABOUT IT. If you keep it inside, it will fester, build, and reproduce into a monster of great proportions.
2. Exercise – Walking, biking, swimming. Any form of physical activity helps to reduce the tension your body is holding and clear your head. The endorphins kicked up while exercising help improve mood. Yoga and meditation are great.
- Walk away – If you know a situation provokes anger or stress, protect yourself. If you are already stressed and spread too thin with work, your kids’ activities, and keeping the house livable – then you should NOT sign up to be your daughter’s soccer coach. It will only cause more stress and make you less available mentally and physically for the child you are trying to help. If a person irritates you, avoid them instead of instigating conversation. Protect yourself from conflict.
4. Find a stress reliever – I write and read books as my escape from reality. Find a hobby or tool to help distract your brain from the constant spinning wheel spewing “You should be doing something!!”
- Get help – If you are not sleeping or eating well, if your anxiety interferes with your relationships with family and friends, or if your anxiety limits you from doing the things you enjoy – then get help. Talk to your doctor or a counselor. Nobody deserves to feel crappy. (that’s a medical term)
- Think positive – Surround yourself with positive people and relationships. This improves your self-esteem and motivation. Try to look at a challenging situation with a positive spin. If working until 10pm and missing your son’s concert, pour yourself into your job that night and make an impact in someone else’s life knowing that you are working to help your family. This can be a hard tool to use at times.
Anxiety can be managed and controlled with determination and good insight as to what triggers your emotions. Take care of yourself first, and you will be better able to care for everyone else around you demanding your time and energy. I’m doing well and manage my anxiety daily – for the most part.