What is it like to be anxious? Let me tell you the ways.
Being in anxiety is a bit like being stuck in a loop, unable to get out of it. Imagine that your brain has decided to go on auto-pilot apart from your body and your body, confused and disconnected, follows after it dragging, a dog on a leash. It feels like a form of disassociation in which obsessive thoughts crowd your brain and you cannot quiet it down. It feels like being bullied by your own mind, causing you to lose control over your capacity to react towards the most basic things.
Lately, I’ve had anxiety hit me hard out of nowhere periodically throughout the past few weeks. Part of it was due to my husband’s return to work, although that was only one factor. I also had an ’empath’ episode of absorbing the energies of others. This week, it’s mostly hormonal. PMS has roared its ugly head and for the past few days, I could feel anxiety creeping at the door like the freakish creepy monster it is.
When I feel the Creeps, I know that I can choose to react and respond or to take the necessary effort to reprogram myself. Reprogramming, as I call it, is a process in which I try to circumvent the usual neural pathways of my brain by doing something completely different. Last week, I did something experimental. I was feeling it gradually set over my soul in the usual waves but instead of reacting, I took Anxiety by its shoulders and sat it in front of me. I told it, “Let’s have a deal. Leave me alone for 8 hours and after that, you can feel free to bother me again.” It did not return for that evening, or for the days after.
Instead, I could feel the voice of my intuition gradually seep in and actually give me advice on further activities I could do to cement what I had just done. It instructed me to do simple things: to prepare food, to draw a little, to do the Tarot. Its voice was distinctively clear, unlike the enveloping crowd of my anxiety. For the next couple of days, I could actually focus on things I loved doing: drawing, writing, yoga-ing, breathing and eating mindfully. Activities that would have been altogether impossible had I not asked it to get lost. I felt strangely liberated: was it really that easy to dispel the spell of anxiety?
After that episode (a rather heavy one), I could feel it again threatening to take over my brain a few days later. This time, I repeated in my mind “Fuck off, fuck off” (swear words are necessary in this case because of their forceful nature). It did.
Other techniques I frequently try to do (the key word being try) besides breathing exercises (something I routinely do before meal times and during anxious moments) is just to start drawing. I find that my brain has been so trained to ‘shut up’ when I draw that this does the trick. Another ‘reset’ button I’ve found is just taking a hot shower and implanting those seeds of ‘fuck off’ in the process. The shower becomes a liminal place where Anxiety and I can face-off without much consequence. Taking a walk, like the shower, helps but it isn’t usually a foolproof way to make sure it doesn’t come knocking again awhile later. Same with exercise. The thing is, contrary to popular belief, it’s not enough to just “Change activities. Do something. Try to eat slowly”. When Anxiety attacks, this is not an option. But having that space between me and It creates a kind of neutral ground in which I could pursue stuff I wanted to do without being enveloped in a foggy adrenaline rush. Believe it or not, even asking it to get lost is sometimes hard when you are in an anxious haze. Strangely, the Fuck Off technique has worked the best for me so far.
So, there you go, a rather nifty hack. If anyone does try it, be sure to report back to me your experiences.
How do you guys manage anxiety? Tell me your ways. 🙂