Many people don’t even realize I suffer from anxiety. In fact, when I share this information, people are often shocked. On the outside I appear calm and put together almost everyday of my life, but on the inside, there is often a storm brewing or raging. I don’t share this anxiety with many people, but through the years (through therapy, loads of research and a 6 month stint with medication back in my mid to late twenties that helped me become aware of my triggers), I have learned what causes it to rear its ugly head, and what to do about it. Today, it’s time to talk, and I hope by sharing my anxiety triggers and what I do to quiet the storm, I hope it helps you as well.
- Being put in the spotlight… for any reason. This is hard considering my job this year and last is all about being in the spotlight, and often. I have to watch how often this happens and give myself plenty of quiet time before and afterward so that I can make sure my inner self has time to detox and calm down. (Some examples of being put in the spotlight: leading a staff meeting, hosting a party, attending a party where I am expected to talk to a lot of people, attending church or another organized large function like concerts, performing in front of a crowd–even if I want to– or being asked a question from left field that I haven’t had time to think about. Even being recognized for something I’ve done well like my artsy bullet journal, or my crochet business, or my cupcake skill, or my musical ability, all make me anxious.)
- Conflict…or a misunderstanding… which is also hilarious because I have found more conflict in this job position than I realized. But what I have found is that if I can find a thread of common ground, a sliver of something that we both want, I find that conflict soon resolves. If I have a conflict that can’t be resolved it can cause huge anxiety. At that point sometimes the only thing that helps is to come home and sob uncontrollably and hug my cat. Don’t be ashamed of the ugly cry. It can be very therapeutic.
- Too many things on my plate… like needing to work, lead a meeting, mail a package, take a daughter to an orthodontist appointment, cook dinner, and help my son with his schooling, can send me over the edge. When too many items start filling my plate, I start kicking some off. If it’s superfluous… I kick it off the list. If I can’t do that, I ask someone to help. Hubs can be bribed to take some of the burden… Peach Green Tea Lemonades usually do the trick.
- A house that is not in order… My house is my safe space. If I am anxious and I can’t come home to a clean and orderly home, it can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. (I’m not talking museum quality like my daughter once accused me of. I’m talking things put in their places and being able to walk across the floor in my bare feet without picking up every crumb that has made it into my home.) My children don’t understand this obsession with a clean and tidy home, but my therapist totally knew why. When you can’t control the world around you, you obsess over the things you have control over. Whenever I am feeling like I am going to tip over the edge, I try and make sure my house it tidy so that I can come home to a safe space.
This is usually it. If I can keep these four things in balance, the inner turmoil stays at bay. Unfortunately that is not always possible. Recently I learned that all the things that cause me anxiety are an extrovert’s paradise and I am an introvert. If you suspect you are an introvert too, and you haven’t read the book Quiet by Susan Cain, I strongly urge you to do so. Building in extra quiet time in my home is one way I naturally manage the inner storm of anxiety.
Did I mention that kids never give me anxiety? I think that’s why next year I will be returning to the classroom and that brings me great comfort. My inner weather meter can’t wait! And I’m not going to lie, there are nights where an adult beverage or two is necessary to help me calm the inner storm. BUT… if you are finding that it is a necessary part of every evening… you might want to take a good look, and figure out what you can do to manage your inner storm in other, more healthy ways.
Enjoy the Dance! ;D