I never considered myself as someone who suffered from anxiety, but looking at the definition – “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill” or “ strong desire sometimes mixed with doubt, fear, or uneasiness” I came to realize I have felt these feelings of abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear. Most of it came along with physical effects such as tension, increased heart rate or sweating.
Looking back, I remember feeling these symptoms on the first day of school, it took my breath away but the minute I got there, I was fine. Or flying which most people get anxious about. I never feared flying itself, but I recognized that the days leading up to my travel I again felt those feelings of terror, until again when I got to the airport they went away.
I was always able to manage through these moments with an understanding that as I faced my fear and anxious thoughts, they would go away. I learned that I was fearful of the unknown but by facing it and understanding it, I had nothing to fear. It was a perfect world of being strong, pushing through it and actually understanding my anxious thoughts and dealing with them.
Until years ago, when multiple life-changing events hit me all at once and pinnacled with the death of my best friend Michael who I found passed away on his 52cnd birthday. This anxiety was new, it was different, and it was raw.
During the first several months after Michael passed, I was in a daze, I was numb and to be honest, did not have any anxious thoughts. But as I began to process through the stages of grief, I certainly felt a level of depression that resulted in anxiety which is a common symptom of grief.
People experience anxiety after the death of a loved one for several reasons, it shakes our happy life and our sense of control is gone which is a natural result of the mourning process. Learning to live your life without your loved may bring anxiety that you never may have experienced before. Anxiety is real, impacting your mind, your body and physical health. That is how I felt, my future was unknown, my children were older and moving out, I lost my best friend, I was changing careers and those fears took over. I had to learn how to cope and face it.
Most people, I included mistakenly think that by avoiding their feelings the pain will go away. but they don’t, suppressing them does not make them go away it actually increases anxious thoughts.
How do we deal with anxious thoughts? I will be honest, it takes time, it is a journey and depending upon your level of anxiety may determine how fast or slow you can manage it.
I do recommend that you consider working with someone to help you process through these difficult times. Anxiety is deliberating and to have someone to walk through and work through this with you is a great first step.
If you think you are suffering from anxiety, ask yourself the following questions, they are not all-encompassing, rather a starting point to determine if you need help
Have you ever asked yourself the following questions?
- How many “could have”, “would have” or “should have” have you thought of today?
- How many times have you replayed a conversation or situation in your head that caused you pain?
- How many scenarios have you created in your mind thinking of an unknown future?
- Do you go through the motions of the day, not feeling committed?
- Do you feel scared about doing the simple things?
- Do you feel physical symptoms (racing heart, sweaty) prior to or during an emotional ordeal?
- Do you wake up in a panic and suffer sleep issues?
These are a few questions that may determine if you have anxious thoughts and not only can that impact your mind, but your health as well. So let’s explore several ways to help you cope.
- First, I again suggest someone work with you. I am a Christian Grief and Joy Restoration Coach, learning the tools and techniques through my training and certification has helped me to manage and overcome.
- Give yourself grace, demanding unrealistic performance from yourself and others puts you in a stress-mode.
- Deal with emotional strong-holds. A stronghold is a place of security or survival, we often deal with our anxious thoughts in a survival mode – learning what your “stronghold” is will be an important part of dealing with your anxiety.
- Frame your world with words involves replacing negative thinking and words through a right-shift attitude.
- Get rid of mind clutter – the more “clutter” or buried emotions that you have not dealt with will eventually come pouring out Expressing emotions is an important step.
- Forgiveness – That may sound odd, but have you ever thought your anxiety is related to unresolved grief? It could be anger, resentment, shame, guilt, regret to name a few. These may be feelings you have to others, God and even yourself. Forgiveness sets you free and though not easy it is possible.
- It is not making excuses for someone’s behavior, but it is forgiving despite the behavior
- It is not ignoring the pain or hurt, but it is choosing to let go
- It is not a weakness, it is a sign of courage
- Lastly, listen to your heart, it is a gentle nudge and healing – Go ahead, ask how you are feeling deep down. I suggest thinking of your blessings:
- What blessings do you have in your life?
- During the hard times, what is one thing you can be grateful for
- Push away painful thoughts
- Focus on spending time with people who bring you joy and happiness
- Focus on happy memories
- Do not allow fear to cloud these messages from your heart
Increasing your happiness and gratitude even when you do not feel it slowly changes your mindset. Everything begins with a thought and our reactions to the thoughts that go on in our minds you can learn to cope with anxiety both from a physical but emotional perspective.
Give it to God – Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Love and peace,