I've had anxiety for a while. For as long as I can remember actually, I just never knew that how I was feeling had a title. So it was a relief when I discovered my anxiety was in fact just that - and it wasn't just who I was. I wasn't alone. And I could fix it. For a while now I've been on a mission to cure this anxiety. I never wanted to take a pill to mask the symptoms - I wanted to get rid of the cause. (Nothing against those who do take medication to help with anxiety, it was just never for me.) And at some point over the past year I've managed to win. Besides a couple days here and there after a night of drinking I've gotten rid of the anxiety. Until when a few weeks ago it came crashing back in. It was the paralyzing anxiety that overtakes you and doesn't let you work or be creative. The kind that makes you just want to crawl into bed and never get out. The kind that makes you question everything you're doing with your life.
Everything about that sounds terrible, right? But what if I told you it's not? What if I said your anxiety actually serves a purpose? And a pretty good one? You'd probably think I'm crazy, right? But it does. It helps you to recognize something is wrong. It's warning you. And for me it was warning me I was doing something that didn't align with my beliefs or values. And for me these days that's a pretty big deal.
So what is your anxiety telling you? Stop trying to run from it and instead listen to it. Maybe it's time for a career change. Or a relationship change. Sit down and make a list of the reasons your anxiety is good. This won't necessarily be easy and your list won't necessarily be long but it will help you get in the right mindset. To help you get started here's mine:
- My anxiety helps me realize I've probably been slacking on my daily self-care routines (journaling, meditating, yoga, etc.)
- My anxiety helps me to check off all those mundane tasks on my list I've been avoiding (like cleaning or doing laundry). Because I'm not able to be as creative when I've got anxiety I focus on the things that I CAN do that will still make me feel like I was productive.
Yep, thats it. Just two things (told you it would be a short list). After I created that list I then started thinking about what the anxiety was really trying to tell me. I took a deeper look at what exactly was going on in my life. I realized I had to stop forcing something that was no longer in line with my values and beliefs just because it was what I had known for a while and was used to.
Every time my anxiety sets in it feels like a step backwards. Especially if I haven't had it in a while. It feels paralyzing and overwhelming. But every time it passes and I'm left feeling better than I felt before it started. Every time it helps me to grow a little more. So while I feel like I'm taking one step back, I'm actually taking two steps forward.