Coping with Anxiety

Yesterday was not an easy one for me. It was busy with emails flying about and doctor appointments and phone calls. The emails were unfortunately very confrontational, and they caused me a lot of anxiety.

Over the years of therapy I’ve been grateful to have, I’ve come to recognize negative emotions in my body right from the very beginning. For me, they start in my stomach. When I feel it churning or burning, I know that I’m experiencing anxiety or fear. When my chest tightens, then I’ve already missed the early warning signs, and the situation grew. If my face muscles clench or I have a headache, then things are out of control.

Thankfully yesterday, I caught my emotions while they were still in my stomach. It was extremely unpleasant, and I was relieved to have two appointments with health professionals. I saw my psychiatric prescribing nurse practitioner and my psychologist. Both are very competent women with many years in their fields, and I trust them fully.

The nurse practitioner and I had a good opportunity to discuss the situation, and she had some great feedback. She suggested that I begin to disengage from the volunteer organization that I spend so much time and energy giving to. She didn’t tell me to quit, but to let others in the group step up and do much of the work. I have been doing this since the beginning of the year, and I’m continuing it.

My psychologist had even more concrete ideas about easing the trouble causing my upset stomach. I had been insulted by one conversaion, and she suggested I write a very short note to the friend who had hurt me. I did that. I wrote clearly that my feelings were hurt. I did not write in anger. I did not express any either. I stated simply what words hurt me. Just discussing the idea of writing the note eased my churning stomach. Actually doing it and hitting the send button on my computer gave me more satisfaction. Later, I received a simple and heartfelt apology. All was well.

My psychologist paid me a great compliment. When I began counseling with her many years ago, it would take us many sessions to dig up my emotions. Yesterday, I entered her office and immediately explained my upset stomach and what was causing it. We came to a good conclusion, and I followed through. All that was accomplished in one sitting.

I have learned to pay attention to my body. It doesn’t lie to me. If something is wrong in my environment or with a situation that I can’t put my finger on, I can trust the sensations my body is giving me. I did not learn this overnight. It took many years, and I am still perfecting it. I will always be a work in progress.

Anxiety is awful. It robs us of clear thinking and overall enjoyment of life. Causes of anxiety are as numerous as grains of sand on the beach. I used to be terribly frightened to drive in parking lots. Life is not simple, and I needed a coping mechanism to allow me to park with minimal fear and greatest safety. I learned to plot my course. I visualized entering the parking lot from the same spot and turning down the same lane each time. My decision was to park in the first available stall regardless of its distance from the store’s entrance.

It worked. I learned to practice this visualizing and planning technique with many other situations in my life. Whatever gave me fear would be met by clear thinking and discussions with caregivers and planning.

I am not alone today. I have people who care about my success at daily living. They help, and I am learning to accept help.

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2 thoughts on “Coping with Anxiety

  1. After I sobered up, it was a real revelation to me how much energy it took to be angry. For that matter, to hold on to most negative emotions requires a great deal more energy than positive emotions. Going through the process of ridding oneself of those negative emotions was another issue entirely. You have certainly learned to deal with them in a lot more “grown-up” manner than I did for a long time. Good for you.

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