Let’s meet anxiety
Today, I was journaling and thinking back through ‘stuff’ I’d been through as my eye caught a picture of one of my dogs. Ferdy left me to go to the great field in the sky last year and I literally broke my heart – as you do.
It was while I was looking at the picture my mum had painted that I recalled walking him one day and finding myself struggling to breathe. It had seemed odd at the time as I walked him at least 3 times a day and up and down many hills.
I’d sat in front of the doctor as he told me, after patiently listening to my story, that I had anxiety. Firstly, and silly me, I didn’t know what that was and I couldn’t see how I could possibly be anxious.
He prescribed me Prozac. I was shocked. But I figured that I needed space to breathe and to slow it down so that I could work out what was going on.
And ever practical I created an exit strategy.
Firstly I changed my diet, took the pills, journaled and became a curious observer of my life.
And sure enough I had to admit things had got a little out of control.
Bit by bit I found myself again. Followed my exit strategy, as it turned out a tad too soon – that’s a story for another day – and did feel better for a while.
The trouble was I was living with the problem.
I discovered in my exploration to understand this thing, that anxiety goes much deeper than stress and is more internalised. It may not have an obvious cause or trigger. Anxiety is typically characterised by a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread. Unlike stress, anxiety, persists and niggles.
While many people feel anxious from time to time, it’s when the anxious feelings don’t go away, seem to happen without any particular reason or make it hard to cope with daily life it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.
Becoming aware of anxiety
Just for a moment stop and ask yourself what the last two weeks have been like. Have you felt any of these?
- A heightened fear of what people think of you
- Afraid of being trapped in a place with no exits
- Always feeling angry and lack of patience
- Binge eating, emotional eating or eating rubbish for the sake of it
- Binging on Netflix or Facebook
- Constant feeling of being overwhelmed
- Dramatic mood swings (emotional flipping)
- Easily annoyed or irritable
- Emotionally blunted, flat, or numb
- Emotions feel wrong
- Everything is scary, frightening
- Feel like crying for no apparent reason
- Feeling down in the dumps
- Feeling like something awful is going to happen
- Feeling like things are unreal or dreamlike
- Felt nervous or on edge
- Frequently being on edge or ‘grouchy’
- Have no feelings about things you used to
- Not able to sleep, frequently waking up and other sleep disturbances
- Not feeling like yourself, detached from loved ones, emotionally numb
- Restless and can’t sit still, but don’t know what to do with yourself
- Trouble relaxing
- Underlying anxiety, apprehension, or fear
- Worrying about many things
- You feel like you are under pressure all the time
If you have – score 1 for every yes:
What would you add?
Add up your score. If you have more than 4, you probably have some level of anxiety.
What do you learn about yourself when you look at your score? Was it hard to admit or did you feel relieved that you could see a pattern to your feelings?
Going forward and looking at anxiety
Write down anytime you feel anxious during the next 21 days. You can start now in your journal – write down any feelings of anxiety you are having today – use the list above to guide you.
- What were you doing right before you had anxiety?
- What thoughts were you having right before the anxiety?
- How did you feel?
- What did you notice about your body (aches etc.)?
What’s interesting is that you may not have noticed any of these, instead I would invite you to think about what you were eating or drinking.
Because your diet can have an effect on your mood.
One way to understand this is to keep a food, energy, mood and sleep journal.
Where do you go from here?
In your journal ask what is coming up that you feel anxious about – choose something small.
Write about how you would like this event to turn out. Imagine it’s 15 minutes after you have successfully completed whatever it is. How do you feel, see, hear? What did you do to make it successful?
Now apply this simple journaling technique to other things that are coming up. What do you notice when you do this?
Chances are this will soothe 95% of the things that are coming up.
From here – when you wake up choose a word for your day that will take you into a good place. Check this out.