When I first learned about what generalized anxiety disorder was, it kind of seemed like a cop-out to me. A diagnosis for people who just can’t handle the everyday stressors and were just *generally* anxious all the time…whatever that means. In my mind, the stereotype of people with anxiety are those who have “poor nerves”, not enough stamina, they don’t know how to suck it up and get on with it, and those who just can’t seem to manage their emotions.
So when I was diagnosed with GAD in July of 2017 it felt a bit weird…but also a bit hopeful. Maybe there would be an explanation of why I walked around with an overwhelming sense of dread 24/7, why I kept having these *episodes* where I couldn’t breathe, my chest would be tight, and I’d stand there crying and shaking for no apparent reason. I was tired of constantly struggling, so even though having an anxiety disorder seemed like a made-up thing at the time, I was desperate to try anything to feel better.
This post is not an in-depth look at what my anxiety looks like and how I “fixed” it. One, because that would be boring to anyone who wasn’t my therapist, and Two there’s no such thing as “fixing” anxiety…just managing symptoms and triggers, and learning how to cope in healthier ways. But I wanted to share the strategies that have helped me in the moment of heightened anxiety. Hopefully, this may help someone, somewhere.
Taking Away The Shame
The fastest way through strong emotions is to let it out and give it space to just be. It’s important to shed the shame and self-judgment about how you feel. Stuffing your emotions deep down causes them only to simmer. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. The only way through it is to feel it and address it.
This Is Only Temporary
Reminding myself that this is temporary and that how I am feeling will pass, gives me hope. Also, this strategy works if you’re in the doctor’s office about to get a shot. Focus on when whatever you are dealing with will be over, and it’s encouraging to remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I journal about once a week and writing down how I feel is a great way to let the how I’m feeling and thinking outside of my body and out into the world. It’s a huge help with processing emotion
Sometimes when I can’t seem to calm myself down I’ll pour a big glass of wine, turn on Netflix and starting knitting. TV keeps my mind pre-occupied and knitting keeps my hands pre-occupied. Both are good ways to redirect my thinking.
I’d love to know . . . how do you deal with anxiety?