Anxiety. It’s just not panic attacks and sitting in the corner of the room completely shut off from anyone and everyone. Sometimes it is overthinking and worrying to the point that we are paralyzed and make no decision. Sometimes anxiety looks like perfectionist tendencies. We get so caught up on making sure our life (or kids/family) is “just right” only to find that when we achieve what we thought we’re supposed to have, it’s not what we wanted. Some anxiety may show up as becoming fixated with the “what if’s” and we start planning for the world to end. We all have different reactions to how we respond when we are put in stressful situations.
Fight, flight, or freeze. How do you react when you are put in a stressful situation? Do you put on a shield of armor and attack any and everyone that comes near you? Do you run away to the comfort of your house, refusing to let anyone in? Do you bury your head in the sand and pretend like the world around you isn’t falling apart? Depending on the situation, I will do any and all of these.
Here is how anxiety shows up for me:
- Try all the things. Shiny Object Syndrome. I am often left with projects that are either a bunch of junk because I am not really interested in completing them or half-completed because things got too hard and I gave up. I can’t tell you how many times I started a workshop or webinar online because I was promised that it was going to change my life. I have bought more junk on Amazon only to have it break or it to be thrown in a closet as soon as it arrives. I have learned that I need to start practicing delaying gratification. Yes, I may need an item on Amazon. But instead of “buy now” I’ll let it sit in my cart for a few days to see if I REALLY need it. Those items that I think I need and are guaranteed to change my life–if I don’t need them for the next three days, am I really going to use them?
- Do none of the things. This usually happens after I get midway into the shiny object project. I have all the intentions of completing everything and then I get caught up with a hiccup, or something does not go according to plan. Maybe I am supposed to do something that puts me out of my comfort zone, and I decide that I am not going to finish right away. Or, I’ll come back to this next week “when I’ll have more time.” I am really great about letting the dog distract me. I will take her out for a walk with the intention to work through any mental blocks. Another big distraction for me is social media. I will use the excuse that I’m checking emails or making sure that a client hasn’t reached out via Instagram. Reality is that I am using it to waste time and it really does keep me from finishing my projects. I am attempting to limit my interaction on social media and emails to a couple of times a day. I realize that being glued to my phone and constantly refreshing webpages is a way that my anxiety increases instead of decreasing my worry. When I catch myself mindlessly scrolling, I have a plan to go back to my to-do list and to limit my time online.
- This one really hurts to admit, but my anxiety often shows up as irritability. When I am stressed about work, deadlines that are coming up, budgets, clients progress (yes, I am often thinking about my clients outside of session- especially if I know that they are implementing what we go over in therapy), or even crazy events within our family/country, then I am more likely to take out my frustrations on the people close to me. I may be more likely to snap at the kids. (Seriously, how hard it is to put the new bag IN the trash can when you take out the trash?) I am more likely to be nasty and say mean things to my husband when he lets the shower run for 15 minutes while he sits on the toilet scrolling through his phone, and there is no hot water left for anyone. Even poor Trash Panda has been harshly scolded and sent to her cage when she pulled the fresh homemade bread off the counter and ate every last bit of it.
While I can justify all of my reactions to these situations, I know that this is not how I want to live.
I don’t like to be constantly upset with my family. I do not like the way it feels to be the one who loses their temper at the slightest inconvenience or the lady who is screaming at other drivers on Interstate 26. When I find myself having little to no patience that is a sign for me to check in with myself to see what it is that is really bothering me. Am I really THAT upset about a driver who cut me off or can it be that I am stressed that my kid is having some difficulties in school and I don’t know how to make it better?
What does anxiety look like in your life? How do you relieve anxiety? Share with us in the comment below.
*If you or a loved one is living with severe anxiety, please seek professional help. There are so many amazing resources around the Lowcountry. Please note that we have not personally vetted each individual business listed at the links above and encourage you to do your own research to find the best fit.