E. Rachael Hardcastle wrote another amazing piece regarding Anxiety. I couldn’t help but share her words with you once more.
With out further ado,
Anxiety Is A Playground
by E. Rachael Hardcastle
Anxiety has plagued me for many years but as I’ve grown so has my tolerance. I’ve learned to view each anxious attack as an individual experience, therefore approached my methods of dealing with them all in different ways too. I’ll use a child’s playground as a metaphor to explain my ideas.
A quick disclaimer – these are my own methods. I am not a medical professional or an expert in any way. This post is purely from experience and these suggestions may not work for everyone.
- The Swing
Anxiety isn’t always about feeling depressed and low. There are mixed emotions, leading to many levels of severity. Much like a swing moves back and forth, so do we move through these levels, eventually slowing to a calm state once again.
To deal with the swing, I close my eyes and take deep, smooth breaths. During this time, I try to relax each part of my body, starting with my feet and working my way up.
- The See-Saw
Anxiety often upsets the balance of our bodies. For women this can affect our monthly menstrual cycles or lead to depression and increased mood swings.
To deal with the imbalance of the see-saw, I lower my caffeine and alcohol intake, and exercise where possible to burn off excess energy. When I feel moody or stressed, cleaning, organizing and finding a focus for an hour or two takes my mind off the unexplained feelings, acting as a minor form of self-therapy.
- The Sand Pit
Anxiety attacks cause us to feel suffocated and drowned in our own bottomless pit of emotions. The more we dig to escape, the deeper the hole gets until eventually we’re in over our heads.
To deal with the sand pit, I stop trying to fight my way out and allow the symptoms to take their course, reminding myself that panic attacks are uncomfortable and unpleasant, but they can’t hurt me. Most of the time the symptoms are worse than the worry, so once I have that reassurance, they go away on their own.
- The Slide
Sometimes we just can’t stop ourselves from slipping. We land with an uncomfortable thunk, but we pick ourselves up quickly and dust ourselves down.
To deal with the slide, when I feel myself climbing those stairs, I tell myself to stop and physically slam a fist on the desk (without hurting myself, of course!). I like to call it my mental slap. I get a few seconds of relief to change my mind. Of course, it’s not as easy as deciding not to panic, but if your mind is clear enough to recognize you need to stop worrying, that tells you more than you realize.
I’m sure there are lots of other similar metaphors for the problems we face when dealing with anxiety. I hope those I have listed above help you to put each problem in perspective and tailor your solution.
Next time you’re near a children’s playground, smile and hold your head high. As adults we’re too old for the sandpit, too heavy for the see-saw, too big for the slide and too tall for the swing. If challenged, we’d defeat them all.
That’s why we pass the playground by. We have no need to go inside.
(C) Image courtesy of Lowes.com