Anxiety is a powerful feeling. It can bring us to our knees at times or trap us in our house.
What, Exactly, is Anxiety?
According to Mayo Clinic, anxiety is “…a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” The cause of anxiety isn’t fully understood. Life experiences such as traumatic events appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to anxiety. Inherited traits could also be a factor. Anxiety can also be caused by a medical problem such as heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, respiratory disorder, drug misuse or withdrawal, withdrawal from alcohol, chronic pain or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
If you have anxiety, you know the feeling of dread all too well and that it can strike at the most inconvenient times. This post is designed to help you deal with pop-up anxiety and get your errands taken care of.
Some common symptoms of anxiety include: feeling nervous, restless or tense, have a sense of impending danger, increased heart rate, hyperventilating, sweating, trembling, feeling weak or tired, trouble concentrating, trouble sleeping, gastrointestinal problems, difficulty controlling worry and urge to avoid triggers.
Time to Fight Anxiety
Usually the first thing you have to overcome when fighting anxiety is agoraphobia or fear of leaving your house. This is a tough one and you may end up spending a day just getting over your agoraphobia. To beat agoraphobia:
*open your front door and make a visual inspection. Notice the cars, trees, weather…any way you can connect with the outdoors.
*step out onto your front porch and feel the sunshine
*remember that any fear you feel is being manufactured by your brain—it isn’t real. There is no danger.
*go back inside, grab your keys and belongings before you change your mind and head straight for the car. Focus on the moment and accept that you still feel a bit anxious.
*take frequent breaks to do things you enjoy. If you’re out running errands, stop and get a coffee or tea and sit in the parking lot for few minutes to gather your thoughts and center yourself.
*listen to your self-talk. Often, when we are anxious, our self-talk is filled with negative chatter about how we can’t accomplish what we want. Are you telling yourself you can’t do this? Change that statement to, “I CAN do this. I am strong and brave.”. Anytime you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, stop and change them to positive thoughts.
Carry around a list of positive affirmations that you can reference when your
*I love myself just the way I am.
*I experience love wherever I go.
*Loving people fill my life and I find myself easily expressing love to others.
*Abundance flows freely through me.
*Every person, place and thing on the planet is interconnected with love.
*I am at home in the Universe.
*I am worth loving. There is love all around me.
*I forgive myself and set myself free.
Refer to your affirmations when doubt and worry start to fill your mind. Find a great printable of affirmations at https://www.mentallyinteresting.com/positive-affirmations.
Most of us have a very busy brain with lots of self talk going on. Take a moment to dial in to your self talk and see exactly what you’re telling yourself. I’m going to guess there’s more than a couple of negative thoughts pinging around your brain. A method you can use to combat negative self-talk is called the Three For One rule (https://www.mentallyinteresting.com/three-for-one). It works like this:
You listen to what you’re telling yourself and, for example, you catch, “I’m stupid”, bouncing around your head. Now you need to come up with three phrases that negate that thought: “I’m smart”, “I’m creative”, “I can think on my feet”.
This goes for other negative self-talk too. Keep reminding yourself of the truth: that you are amazing and you can do anything you set your mind to.
The Words You Live By
Now is the time to decide on a mantra that you can say to yourself when you’re feeling anxious. I find that simple is best. “I can do this.” “I am strong and can handle this.” “I am brave and can face my fears.” “I will not be defined by my fears.”“There is nothing to fear.” “Everything is OK.”
No list of coping with anxiety would be complete without taking deep breaths. Breathe in the positive, exhale the negative. You can almost always find a semi-quiet space to breathe for a few minutes. Think about the parts of your day that you have enjoyed or people that you especially liked talking with.
Break It Down and Reward Yourself
You’re going to the grocery store. Break that down into tasks: drive to the grocery store, get a cart, get groceries, pay, load into the car, unload at home and put groceries away. Each of these is a doable task. You can even reward yourself for accomplishing part or all of the steps. (The reward you choose can be anything from spending five minutes on Facebook to going to the Museum after your grocery chore is completed.)
Time to Roll
You’ve tackled your agoraphobia or, at least, have it in a headlock. You’ve said your positive affirmations, you have a mantra and your deep breathing skills. You’ve broken down the task and come up with a reward for completion. And you’ve addressed your negative self-talk.
Here’s the hard part: grab your keys, wallet/purse and phone and head out the door. Just keep walking to the car. Get in. Raise the garage door if you need to and back out into a fantastic world.
If you hear yourself saying, “I can’t do this.” Say right back,“Yes, I can. I am powerful.” Bring your positive affirmations with you so you can refer to them when you’re fighting negativity.
You did it! Big time props to you. Now reward yourself with a yummy treat, or take time to read a book or something else you enjoy. Write down how you feel after completing your task so that next time you have to do something you don’t want to do, you can read how good you felt when you completed a task.
The next time you have to complete a task that you don’t feel up to doing, use affirmations, listen to your self-talk, have a mantra,take deep breaths, break the task down into steps and reward yourself.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I’d love to hear about your experience with anxiety in the comments. What do you do to feel less anxious? Have you had agoraphobia before?
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