So I realize that there can be lots of reasons for someone to feel trapped and cornered by anxiety. Luckily, in the past few years this hasn’t been such a problem in my life but I recently went through a time when everything just felt like too much. I’m an introvert (in person, not so much on paper [or on screen?]) and for a couple weeks straight I don’t think there was once a time when I had an hour to myself. And I NEED that time like a flower needs water. If I don’t get it I just want to shrivel up and hide. Life was just go-go-go, talk-talk-talk, do-do-do, and and at the end of it I felt like I couldn’t even think straight. This may seem like a lame reason to feel anxious to some, but everyone’s got their thing that can just put them over the edge.
If you feel this way from time to time and need some tips to climb out the the shrivel hole, here’s what worked for me.
When going through a stressful time, we need to take time to sort through what’s going on and how we feel about it, and then hopefully resolve the issues one by one. Once we do, our mind is clear from clutter and we’re left feeling much more focused and a lot less weighed down by the junk.
Listen to music
Victor Hugo said, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”
The other day when I was pretty much at my witt’s end, I had just put baby down for a nap and decided to veg for a few minutes before I had to get dinner started. I decided to play some music, specifically the spotify radio for Hillsong. It only took a moment for me to feel like all the emotions that I wasn’t allowing myself to feel at that moment came out and for the first time in a while, I felt like I could process them. Many times, I believe, we get to the point of anxiety because we feel we need to be in complete control of the things around us. We say to ourselves “I got this, I got this” and we end up swallowing way more than we can handle at once! Sometimes I’m so good at this that I can literally feel a weight in my chest. That time of listening to music revealed some of the emotions I had swallowed and once they reemerged, I was able to begin processing through them!
Like I said before, I’m an introvert in person. I even get awkward sometimes when talking to God. (Is that weird? Maybe.) At home I keep a prayer journal where I write to God about what I’m going through. There’s sometimes when I feel like just writing to myself in the journal, but then I figure that God’s probably the best person to talk to anyway. If I could help myself, I would have done that already! Anyway, when I write in that book something about the psychology of putting my problems and emotions on paper helps me to feel heard and allows me to begin letting go and moving on. I also will use Google Docs just because I type way faster than I write and when I’m done I can erase the whole thing. If you’re feeling burdened by something and don’t know how to express it, try putting it on paper and see if you’re able to leave some of that burden behind.
Now when people feel stressed they will usually take one of three roads. They will either 1. Take the healthy road and turn their stress energy into something beneficial/useful/productive like exercise, art, writing, etc. (yay!); or 2. take the unhealthy road and lash out, complain, or act impulsively based on emotions; or 3. do nothing, like locking yourself in your room and take really long naps (which is just another branch off the unhealthy road). I know that when I feel anxiety building up, it needs to go somewhere. I’ve found that running (or just exercising in general) is one of the fastest ways to relieve stress. Others of you may find different healthy stress relievers like painting or drawing, writing, walking. Anything that can be deemed useful, beneficial, or productive is leading you down the healthy road of anxiety relief.
Talk with someone
Before speaking with someone, try to think about what your goal is before deciding with whom to speak. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear, and not everyone is cut out for that job. Ever know someone who is great at giving advice, even if it’s not necessarily asked for or needed? But at the same time, those people can also be GREAT at telling us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. Whoever the person is, be sure they come from a place of wisdom and love and are separated enough from the situation so that they are in a good place to help you make a wise, unbiased decision and point you in a healthy direction.
This post is for those people who deal with mild to moderate anxiety now and then. For those who find anxiety controlling a major part of their lives, it would be best to seek help from a wise individual like a counselor or pastor who is able to guide you to a place where you can work through anxiety in a healthy way.
What are you most likely to do when you feel anxiety creeping up on you? Have you found healthy ways to process through stress and feeling overwhelmed? Share your own thoughts in the comments!