Handling Anxiety During Uncertainty
I am a person who likes lists, control and order. These are at times helpful tools; however, they also can be symptoms of my anxiety. My need for control can turn my type A personality to unhealthy habits where I over work myself to quiet my brain. Let me tell you from experience…This. Does. Not. Work. Over working myself means I’m giving myself no down time. No time to feel what I’m feeling, think what I’m thinking, or heaven forbid, acknowledge I’m overwhelmed and might need to (gulp) ask someone for help.
Obviously this thought process is completely unhealthy and is only my anxiety trying to ‘protect’ my ego from feeling vulnerable. I can tell myself this logic but it doesn’t instantly lift my anxiety.
As you can imagine, big changes can be a trigger for my anxiety to wake up and decide it needs to take the reins. And I’m sorry to say I am not always good at catching it before it starts to pull me down into the deep end.
I’ve had anxiety as long as I can remember. Starting in my teenage years I was first able to develop my tools for coping. Since having Adilia I’ve found my anxiety to be a much more precarious balancing act. I’m juggling so many more things than I was when I was younger. And finding moments of quiet for my brain only happens if I am extremely intentional about my time.
During times of change I have to take extra precautions to keep the noise in my head calm. A huge part of this comes from grounding into my body. This grounding is a combination of tools and routines that I use such as breathing techniques, meditation, and movement. When I first acknowledge I’m feeling anxious I ask myself these questions:
Have I had enough water today?
Have I eaten enough?
Have I worked out in the last 3 days?
Have I Meditated today?
If I answer ‘No’ to any of these questions I first address that. If I catch my anxiety in its early stages, avoiding the pitfalls that usually accompany it typically resolves the anxiety rather quickly. However, I often let much of my self-care routine fall to the side when I’m busy and overwhelmed. This means I’m getting run down in multiple areas and it can take a few weeks of diligent routines to correct the track I put myself on. Thus, in comes my realignment.
Jumpstarting my self-care routine usually means I need to see my therapist or talk through my stress with a close confidant who really knows me. For me this person is usually my sister. (Thanks Ella!) Often just voicing your fears or anxiety takes away a HUGE part of their power.
The biggest mantra for me to remember when I’m feeling especially anxious is that, “This is temporary.” Often when I’m overwhelmed I will fight the stress. Feeding my anxiety with tension through my whole body. I’ll make lists for everything you could possible imagine and over plan to reach for some control in uncertain times. Instead of fighting my thoughts with distractions I now lean into them.
I’ll ask myself , what is the worst thing that could possibly happen?
If this happens when I’m with the girls I’ll put on a show for them and sit in another room to allow me to get back into my body. I’ll breathe, drink some water and listen to what my body is trying to tell me.
Wow i’m feeling really anxious. Let me take a pause, get a glass of water and go sit down a moment.
So how do I handle my anxiety during uncertain times? I take care of myself. For me this usually means I haven’t worked out as much as I need to for my mental health. So I go for a run, without headphones, in complete silence. I get major sensory overload when I’m anxious and any noise can easily overwhelm me. So this silent run is just the kind of environment for a brain dump that I need to reboot. Sometimes I can’t get out for a silent run so when that isn’t an option and I’m with the girls, we have a dance party. I know, completely opposite direction but if I’m with the girls blasting some music and dancing all out, it usually leads to laughing which is a great stress reliever.
Let’s face it, anxiety is going to surface but having my routine and checklist in place helps me to mange my anxiety before it takes over my mind.
I think part of this move for me is to show myself that my anxiety does not control my life anymore. It is a passenger that has a lifetime ticket but it does not determine the route my life will take. So as I dive into the uncertainty of the next year, I am grounding myself in the things that are certain today and that feels pretty good.