Learn how to recognize and manage your anxiety.
Updated: Jan 3, 2020
I recall a time when I was making dinner, with my second daughter a few months old in the kitchen with me. I picked up a knife and all of a sudden I had this horrific intrusive thought that said "what if I dropped this knife on my daughter or worse actually purposefully hurt her." I was stunned and absolutely freaked out and ashamed and scared that I would have such a thought. I literally thought I was losing my mind.
I heard a program commercial on the radio.asking if listeners ever experience a series of questions about select yet common worries. I found I answered yes to everyone of the worries and knew then I had to get the program. I did the self-help program and was so relieved to learn how common this type of anxiety (that becomes crippling for some) is and what I can do about it.
If you struggle with just a little or a lot of anxiety, I offer these suggestions for you.
1. First, recognize you are not alone and that many people have brain neuropathways and signaling that can make us more prone to worry and fears that others have less of.
2. It is OK and important to seek help from your primary care clinician or a mental health clinician. The support itself and listening ear of a caring professional can go a long way.
3. Be open to medication - it helps lots of people, including me. It is not a fix for interpersonal and coping problems, but it helps take the physical edge off for those of us with brains prone to excessive worry.
4. Try relaxation techniques. Whatever those might be for you such as listening to soothing music, taking a hot bath, getting a massage, walking along a serene path, lying in the sun (with sunscreen), guided imagery, or meditation.
5. Give meditation a try - game changer for me. Think of these as awareness building activities and exercises. In my 20s, 30s and even 40s, I thought mediators were enlightened people with completely resolved issues and they lived in nirvana. I longed to be like that and yet I never seemed to get there in my meditations. I would have thoughts during my efforts and kept feeling like I was a failure and that it was not ever going to be for me. Even after spending years in programs, I still struggled. An opportunity came along when I was working for the University of Iowa Hospitals to participate in an intensive 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. I decided why not, I wanted to learn more about the program as a professional anyway. What I learned in the program early on was pivotal and simple. That meditation is a journey towards enlightenment but all people will have thoughts and this is normal. The key for me that day was to stop judging myself for having them!!!! Simple, just let them be and no judgement opened new channels for me. I now have a meditation practice that I look forward to every day. Often now, the time is not sufficient but I all I have for that day (no judgement). So, give it a try.
6. Seek friends and family to support you. We all need love,compassion, understanding and trust.
7.Consider writing your thoughts, feelings and observations down.Some call this journaling and find that it can help bring focus to one's experiences.
8. Be compassionate to yourself. We can be so hard on ourselves and it just is not necessary nor productive or healing.
Lots of love and light to you. ---Sharon