I had an anxious moment today. And though I have become really good at talking myself out of anxiety attacks, sometimes the anxious moments take over. Do you know what the worst part about these moments are??? You know that you are not thinking straight, but you just can’t help it. The whole time you are in one of those moments, you know that you’re not thinking rationally, and this almost makes things worse.
I have dealt with anxiety for quite some time, and have tried many things to overcome it naturally. I know that I don’t deal with it to the extent of some people, but for me, it is still very real. To give you an example, one of the most anxiety provoking tasks for me is driving. I get anxious to the point where it has actually kept me at home before. I mean…..it doesn’t matter how much I want to be at my destination, if I get anxious, I won’t go. I will wait until my husband can take me. The only time I am in the slightest bit comfortable driving is when I am going to a familiar place, like work or school. Even then, I sometimes have the onset symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety can be crippling. No matter what it is that makes you anxious, if you have ever dealt with anxiety, you know how it can affect your life. One time in my freshman year of college I was taking a Sign Language class. We had presentations coming up, mind you, these were our second presentations and I ROCKED the first one. My anxiety got the best of my the day of this second presentation, and I actually pretended to be sick, skipped the presentation, and therefore, received a C in the class at the end of the semester. When anxiety starts to hold you back, it is time to figure out ways to cope so that you don’t spend your whole life an anxious mess, missing out on opportunities.
This afternoon I struggled with a part of my career that I cannot change or control. I was struggling with the fact that I am a new teacher and that this means that, while I will have a job each year, the location and grade level won’t be stable for a few years. This was the gist of my panic, but then I started having other extremely irrational thoughts regarding all of this and it turned into a full blow moment of anxiety. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sit still, my heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, I felt nauseous, my brain was jumping to worst case scenario, my world was crashing in…All of the classic symptoms. I really had to talk to myself. I had to find God in this moment and give everything to him. I had to trust that I am exactly where I am meant to be, and that he knows the exact place I will be during every step of my teaching journey. I prayed against my anxiety. I surrendered to him.
This incident inspired me to share some of my tips with you. How do I help myself when I am in the middle of an anxious moment? Here are a couple of things that I have found to work.
- Be proactive: Sometimes, we get anxious over the unknown. And while there are times that the unknown is to remain unknown, there are other times when we can make the unknown, known! Can you research what is making you anxious??? Are you anxious about something that is coming up? Do you have questions you can ask someone? Don’t let yourself sit in your anxious puddle, try to be proactive. I know this is much easier said than done, but if you CAN do it, it is helpful.
- Talk to someone: Whether this be a text, a phone call, or a chat with your pet. Just talk about what is making you feel anxious. Talk it out. When you start talking, you will find the rational thoughts that have gotten lost and those rational thoughts will begin to overtake the irrational thoughts you were having at the beginning.
- Breathe: Again, easier said than done when you are in the midst of an anxiety attack. But seriously……Make a conscious effort to take some deep breaths in and out. Close your eyes, and just breathe.
- Find your senses: All five of them. Have you heard this technique before? Have you tried it? It really does work. Find something that will ignite each sense. Look for something you can see, find something to touch and focus on the way it feels. Sniff. Find something to smell and think about the smell. Listen. What can you hear? What does it sound like? Is it soothing? What can you taste? Can you taste the toothpaste from brushing your teeth? Can you taste that piece of chocolate that you just ate? Can you lick your lips and taste your chapstick? This technique brings your focus away from what ever is making you anxious and towards something different.
- Pray: If you pray, pray. If you don’t, then do what YOU do. For me, I can’t get through my anxieties without talking to God and surrendering to him whatever it is that I am anxious about. God has used my anxiety to strengthen my faith in him, and I know that if I hand the situation over to him, I will be okay. I will feel better.
- Recognize the irrational thoughts you are having: Finally, this is the hardest thing for someone who suffers from anxiety to do. We don’t always want to think of the way we are feeling as irrational. And let’s be honest, sometimes we AREN’T feeling irrational. But for me, I have noticed that most of the things that I become anxious over ARE irrational. And if I can figure out how to rationalize with myself through any of the above techniques, I feel so much better.
No matter what it is that you do to cope with anxiety, it has to be done in conscious effort. We don’t like feeling anxious, we know it isn’t a normal feeling, but we don’t always know how to pull ourselves out of it. But being intentionally conscious is really important.
While these things work for me, I realize that they will not work for everyone. I realize we all suffer from anxiety of a different severity. I realize that we have all been armed with different coping tools. But if you feel stuck, try some of my techniques. See if they work for you. It is worth a shot.
I hope you all have a beautiful day!
Thank you for taking a peak into a vulnerable part of my life without passing judgment.
Remember, you are stronger than anyone will ever know. You are stronger than YOU will ever know. We all battle things within ourselves. It’s how we win those battles that make our strength known to ourselves.