What are you doing here? you weren't invited !
My anxiety was BAD the other day.
There was a very understandable and a valid reason for it but that doesn’t take from the fact that it is unhelpful and not necessary.
I did what I always do, took myself out for a long walk in nature. It always does the trick, or should I say usually does the trick. In this instance, it didn’t and that, of course, made the panic rise higher and anxiety threatened to consume me whole.
Luckily I have a whole (metaphorical) toolbox of tried and tested supports that work for me, so I did what I don’t usually have to do, opened it wide and dug around for another tool.
Noticing the details, this is something I make an effort to do on every walk regardless of my mood or emotional state. Noticing details is normally me reminding myself to slow my mind and take in all the view around me, really noticing. You know when you are trying to take a photograph with your mind but also capture the feeling in you and around you.
When anxiety is high I take it a step further and start to name the colours I see, mentally describe the textures and tones. If needed I then start to focus on the variety of sounds and textures. I touch the bark of trees, test the firmness of the leaves, I even go so far as to close my eyes when I walk focusing on the terrain beneath my feet.
This helped a little but only calming me for the moments I was engaged in the task. The pull of deep panic was still threatening to kick in. I have to admit I was scared. It was only lunchtime and It felt too much already.
I didn’t want my whole day to feel like I was on the verge of hysteria.
Back into my toolbox I went and whipped out another tool, noticing how rarely these days I need to use more than one tool, but today was not a one tool day. This was a bad anxiety day!!
Next up was Breathwork.
Breathwork is something I do daily and have got to the point that It is an unconscious act throughout my day. If you’ve read my blog post on breathwork you will know the trick to integrating it into my day was doing it when I went to the toilet. Taking those moments, however short, to stop and focus on my breathing.
When I’m anxious I need to remind myself to focus on my breathing and there is a particular breathing style I need to do.
I will give a warning here: the right breathwork is personal to each person. Ones that other people find really useful I find anxiety provoking. I keep it simple. No counting or hand on anything. I simply do deep stomach nasal breathing.
To do this I (try to) only breathe in and out of my nose. This in itself is not enough to calm me as I am often still only breathing into my chest which is an anxiety provoking breath.
I focus on getting the breath all the way down to my stomach, then exhaling out my nose.
I was getting to the end of my walk, which is a loop, and my anxiety did not feel safe yet so I started the loop again, as someone with a fatigue disorder balancing my multiple health issues is part of my every day and one can often not support the other’s needs.
I knew my body didn’t have much more energy in it but I knew my mind did want to go home like this. A few steps into starting the walk again I decided to listen to my body, and not m y mind and turned back to the car where I sat, picturing the options I could take and seeing which offered a feeling of internal comfort. Subtitled tv in bed felt good was the winner but I had a gigantic craving for a specific beverage (that I don’t usually allow myself to drink as its not good for me) that I felt I had to have to make it all better so I chose not to fight it and drove off to the shop.
I love driving. I consider it a mindfulness task. your mind can’t wander too far when you have to watch the road and I always choose the old windy country road as I enjoy them the most.
20 minutes I reached the shop and felt much more at ease, Donning my mask to face the covid risky task of shopping I was once again reminded of how old pleasures are gone for now (yes I consider supermarket shopping a pleasure. It’s my favourite kind of shopping) which tickled my anxiety again. Once inside I moved swiftly but still managed to come out with much more than the one item I went in for, every time!!
Back in the car I quickly cracked a can of the cold beverage like the relapsing addict I am (it’s not alcoholic) and went home with a very manageable level of anxiety, knowing I was going to bed with my favourite beverage and some good tv.
It was a late night.
When I find that soothing space It feels so very precious that I have a habit of basking in it long past my normal bedtime. 7 cans or the naughty drink, one large chocolate bar, a share bag of crisps eaten all by me, and hours of enjoyable tv later I went to sleep happy, at peace and no longer scared to wake up in the morning.
Anxiety has become more active in my life during this lockdown and I am working on a comprehensive Anxiety Support e-book to share with my fellow sufferers.
I will try and work faster but until then know that you are not alone and anything you have to do to find peace is o.k, even if that’s all the naughty food and late night tv.
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