Anxiety is a fickle beast shared among 40 million adults in the U.S. but not frequently discussed over dinner parties or in bars. It is an invisible disorder that is increasing its hold on younger and younger generations. I think anxiety is uncomfortable to talk about because it is uncomfortable to feel. Acknowledging your anxiety can make you feel it even more sometimes, at least this is what happens to me. I start thinking about how I was anxious to do this or that and then when thinking about something next week I already feel anxious about it. It’s a horrible cycle.
Thankfully I feel pretty comfortable talking about it and think it should be more openly discussed. Actually letting some people know that I have anxiety makes me feel better and thus less anxious. I’m not really sure why the increase in anxiety within the past few decades or what the best cure all is but my intention is to find the best management methods that work for me.
Today is just a summation of what makes me anxious.
- Driving by myself.
- Snow + #1.
- Going new places by myself…do you see a theme?
- My health issues.
- Not having a good group of friends/family where I live.
- My dog getting loose.
- Committing to plans.
- Medical procedures.
- Not having a plan.
- Bringing a tiny human into the world.
Those are my top 10 things that I have anxiety around in order of most disruptive to living my life.
Particularly number 1, 2, and 3 hinder my sense of freedom and they stem from 4. So should my health issues actually be ranked as the leading cause of my anxiety? Probably. However, that is a harder one for me to tackle and is more complicated than getting over my fear of the what ifs with 1-3 because those are just WHAT IFS. I worst case scenario myself everyday and I’ve become incredibly tired of it. I miss my days of being care free and confident.
I need to figure out what will get me back there. Not necessarily the care free in the sense of that teenage attitude but in the knowledge that I can and have always figured out a way to cope with a situation.
Methods for coping so far have been:
- Using my diffuser every morning with a base of peppermint or orange. This really helps stimulate me in the am and I AM NOT a morning person so anything that helps awaken me without caffeine is a tool. (It also really helps with the perpetually stuffy nose one acquires while pregnant).
- Some quick morning meditation or stretches eases the muscle aches and also helps wake me up.
- Establishing routines has been incredibly beneficial for me. I not only feel more productive but it reduces my downtime to think about anxiety. I use Google Keep to make my lists so I can easily check them off then reset them for the next day. I have a Morning and Afternoon/evening routine plus a Cleaning list for each day and then a general To Do and a To Do Eventually list. I love lists. Don’t judge.
- Increasing physical activity currently am doing this through Yoga with Adriene’s 30 Day Yoga Journey True series on YouTube. I also stretch more and listen to a mediation right before going to bed. The meditations vary depending on my mood but one of my go to is also from Adriene, Meditation for Inner Peace. It’s pure bliss.
- Researching is another thing I have been doing. Mostly focusing on finding recommended self help books like Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now and currently listening to Dan Harris’ 10% Happier. I’m not done with either so I will come back to those in a separate post. Essentially though I want to understand more about anxiety and how to manage it effectively.
- Pausing to breathe when I feel the start of an anxious feeling I acknowledge it by looking away from what I am doing and just breathing a few deep breaths. Obviously while driving you keep driving and just breathe with your eyes on the road but I look for a new perspective. Lately it has been how fortunate I am to be able to drive myself rather than waiting for the bus which I see a lot of people doing out in the bitter cold. Being thankful for what you have makes the WHAT IF worries diminish.
There are many other coping strategies out there but these are the ones I have implemented first and am seeing what works/doesn’t work for me. Some of you may struggle with anxiety perpetually or it comes and goes. There are often certain periods in ones life that create excess periods of stress and thus anxiety and depression. In a weird way being pregnant has decreased my anxiety in the sense that I’m more able to be ok not being in control (your body does crazy things that you just have to roll with) but also made me want to get a handle on the preexisting issues so that it doesn’t hinder me being a parent. I also want to do these things for myself because it isn’t fun feeling stuck in a rut because of your own mental blockages. I could be doing so much more if my mind would let me, so I’m going to make it let me by figuring this fickle creature out.