Stop It Right There

Don't even think about it.

I’ve joked or hinted about this before, but I don’t think I’ve ever really laid it out there: I struggle with anxiety. Like, a lot.

I spent quite a bit of time last winter being anxious about all sorts of things. While I was happy in my new marriage, everything else felt a little off. I was unhappy with my job. I was worried about an enlarged lymph node in my groin. I wasn’t getting a period. I was drinking way too much and eating too little. And because I was too skinny for my body type, I felt uncomfortably cold all the time. So what did I do about all of that? I threw my energy into calorie counting to make sure I maintained my slim physique. Naturally. It seemed logical at the time. I basically focused on that one thing and let all of those other concerns grow into big, giant monsters. I was the epitome of passive.

Then I don’t know what happened. There was no ah-ha moment, no light shining down from the sky, but one day I decided that enough was enough. I called a therapist and set up an appointment, I visited an acupuncturist and I made a vow to go to yoga more often. I got a biopsy of the questionable lymph node (it turned out fine). I saw a specialist about the missing period. I took charge of my life again. Phew.

But what scares me is how quick I got to that bad place and how hard it was to leave. Anxiety totally had me pinned and hog tied before I even realized something was amiss. Anxiety is a sneak. All it takes is one unchecked thought to start a spiral of badness.

Which is why I must be vigilant. I need to stop the anxious thoughts before they get out of control. There’s many ways I attempt to do this. Sometimes it’s as simple as visualizing a stop sign when the first thought creeps in. Sometimes I read a book. Or go to yoga. Or snuggle with my dogs. I’ve by no means perfected this nip-it-in-the-bud technique, but I’m getting better. Because I’m not going back to the place where I was last winter. I refuse. There is too much wonderful life to live.

So here’s my question to you. What do you do to stay calm when things feel overwhelming? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? I could always use a few more in my arsenal.

16 thoughts on “Stop It Right There

  1. You have a lot going on right now, and much/all of it is out of your control, so you should get permission to feel a little anxious. So maybe you could give in to it for like 15 minutes, and then after the clock hits 15 minutes get up and go somewhere or do something else. The thing I do when anxious will sound kind of strange except that one of your posts was about it. I make lists. It is often “things to do,” but if I’m really anxious it might be “people to write letters to,” or “things I’ll buy when I’m not broke” or something like that. Somehow, it calms me down.

  2. I like Molly’s allowing-it-for-15-minutes idea. She’s a smart one :). I use mantras, for me it’s the Jesus Prayer, that oddly-powerful piece of ancient words strung together. Or I use breathing exercises. Yesterday I just forced myself to get OUT of the house, and once I was walking I encountered so many interesting and beautiful things that I was totally pulled out of myself. I texted Joel with something sunny and he was a little freaked out, as 5 minutes ago I had been totally melting down. I guess a change in perspective can go a long way, sometimes!

  3. I knit! I was so happy to see on fb that you signed up for a knitting class. I find it incredibly relaxing and therapeutic. I hope you’re enjoying it too.

  4. I attempt to address the issues directly that are making me anxious and I try to get plenty of excercise to releive the stress.

  5. I think having a hobby that requires focus always helps (so, big kudos on the knitting!). For me, cooking is my number one. It puts me in a state of zen because I am totally focused on what I’m doing and not thinking about anything else. Yoga helps with that too, because I’m thinking about the motions and the mind-body connection. I think it’s important to think in the now and not let your thoughts get ahead of you. With a recipe, you only go one step at a time, and same with yoga – one move at a time.
    You can also never go wrong with the Serenity Prayer:
    “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.”

  6. I love to color!! I know weird, right? But you would be surprised how calming it is. Get yourself a good box of Crayolas- with the sharpener on the back and some really fun coloring books.

    I would have never said that meditations would work for me but I found some really great meditation cd’s (infertility related) that really helped me calm and refocus my energy. I would be happy to make you copies. I am sure there are some great meditations out there for general anxiety as well.

    Gotta also say that acupuncture really really helped me- gave me time to really breath and zone out yet zone in on how to relax.

    Most of all I use the following mantras:
    1. Be kind to yourself (give yourself the time, space, things that you need without guilt or explanation)
    2. Be still and know (be still and know that you are where you are meant to be. be still and know that you can and will get through this moment, this hurdle, this struggle, etc. be still and know that you are becoming a stronger, wiser woman with each passing still and know that you are loved and supported for all that you are at this moment.)

    Sorry for the novel . . .Hugs from here!

  7. please feel free to send me an email! just make sure you put something in the subject line so I recognize it if it comes in my junk mail 🙂

    Love the hunger games!! can’t keep it on my shelves at school – students and teachers rave about it!!

    oh and by the way I was a TIRED- go figure!! Looking forward to hearing from you- hope I didnt miss an email already, lol

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