The most daunting part of anxiety is the sneak attack. Anxiety might decide to come play while you are buying bruised organic avocados at the grocery. It might miss you so much that it decides to rear its head during a coffee date with friends. She (I’ve given my anxiety a sassy female alter-ego) might decide to stop by and say hey while you’re 12 episodes deep into Orange Is The New Black. Anxiety is overwhelming simply because it pops up unannounced. These annoying sneak attacks have given me the opportunity to learn how to combat that unwanted wave of panic.
The biggest thing I have learned is to always be prepared. Build a physical, mental, emotional, spiritual toolbox that you always carry. This can be a gray area because some people use items to distract from anxiety or associate certain items with stopping panic. I don’t want you to try to stop it. I want you to ride the wave and have tools that will make you more comfortable during the journey.
Here is my 4-part toolbox:
- Lavender essential oil
- I carry it in my purse/in my car/etc for instant zen
- My engagement ring
- My fiance told me to always look at it when I feel anxious and remember I’m never alone in this journey
- A stone that says “let it be”
- I bought this from a Crystal shop in Laguna beach. It helps ground me and put things into perspective
- Positive self-talk
- Tell yourself how awesome you are!
- Choose 2-3 mantras that you can repeat to yourself if the anxious thoughts are pervasive
- “Feel the fear and do it anyway”
- “All is well”
- “Just keep swimming”
- Feelings are feelings and thought are thoughts
- Really, though…it is simple! Focus on what your body feels like, not the chaotic shit storm inside your head
- Reach out to someone around you and verbalize your anxious feelings
- Telling someone how you feel and creating that connection will make you feel less vulnerable
- Lift up these feelings to a higher power, whoever you believe in
- You have God, many gods, the Universe…the possibility to have so many people on your side
- So much pressure can be relieved when you send up anxious thoughts to the sky
Plan ahead, use your toolbox, and dominate life. Over the years, I’ve learned that I can lessen the extent of my anxiety by preparing. If I’m nervous about an interview, I might type the address of the office into Google Earth to see a street view of the building. I might lay out my clothes the night before and have my tea mug laid out. I might drive to the location an hour early to prepare for traffic. I might bring an extra pair of clothes if I spill something on my interview attire. This literally happened in the past (insert long sigh). I might prepare answers to common interview questions. Another example of the benefit of preparation is going out for a weekend hike. I will meticulously plan what supplies, clothes, food I need. I will look at the weather and prepare extra gear. I will carry supplies that could last me a few days if something happens.
You have to stack the deck, make the odds in your favor. Anxiety does sneak up and you can’t always be ready. But…you can be better prepared to journey through the fear.