My anxiety flared up recently. I didn’t realise until for three days I couldn’t regulate my breath with exercise, activities I enjoy, or relaxing at all. I couldn’t figure out if it was my body or my mind, deep down I knew, though didn’t want to admit as I used the blood pressure monitor twice to find it low one morning and high the next day, that it was stress and anxiety.
It’s been a while.
It’s the kind where it causes physical heart palpitations, tightness, and the feeling of not enough breath in my body to go around. I can easily mistake it as something physical only, though it originated as something internal.
Sometimes it can be a reaction to over-exercise, I once helped wash windows and the next day felt my heart was about to collapse, I love to exercise in the mornings though if there isn’t a decent warm down or I don’t have a relaxation at the end of it, I can feel a constricted high heart rate all day. (I’ve since switched to Pilates with Jo Tuffrey over Youtubers for this reason and give myself a 5-minute relaxation after then meditation).
I reflected and reluctantly went over the possible (obvious) causes, it seemed ridiculous that a few things here and there caused so much difference that I physically felt in my body.
The main contributors: I was holding onto some ongoing stress that wasn’t immediately mine and I was trying to distance myself from. It was the empathy and concern I felt for others and the fear of what if? When I feel something unfair has happened, it can really get to me. Then I can get anxious that people won’t tell me stuff because it will raise my anxiety again when it might ease it, as you’ll find as you read on. Job hunting relentlessly putting my cv out there only to return a few measly calls from agencies who aren’t as interested when I state I need part-time 2-3 days a week.
The final one: In preparation for college (and interest) I’ve started reading more in nap times, usually it was 10 minutes as she closed her eyes and drank a bottle knowing ‘Phew she doesn’t need me at this moment’. I’ve been reading a long chapter and more and while this is super relaxing, some books I’m reading at the moment feature heavily on abuse. Why love matters and The Conscious Parent are great books, they should also come with a trigger warning.
Another addition to my week, learning again, has been Emma Kenny’s live clinic, a TV present, and Psychologist, she answers peoples questions three times a week on her youtube channel. It’s interesting to hear how she deals with them as a therapist, she shares stories and advice on resilience and agency and I feel it builds my mental muscles for this type of thing. HOWEVER, listening to the show at 8.30 pm before bed, was NOT helpful and neither were the mornings either.
How I have helped myself through a flare-up:
I’ll be honest, learning that there were two possible reasons for property damage made me focus less that someone was on a revengeful rampage and that I may be a less of a target (if any at all), I felt relief.
The job-hunting continues. I’m applying for 3-4 positions once a day, I’ve moved it forward not to do it nap time and to take care that if I’m feeling overwhelmed, negative, and not hopeful, to revisit when I feel a bit better later in the day.
The sensitive content: It may seem strange that I’m learning about horrendous treatment when I can easily fall into anxiety, though I feel it’s necessary to and will come up in my time studying to be a counselor. That being said, I’ve moved reading to afternoons, 10-30 minutes a day, sometimes I sit with what I feel after and breathe, other times I watch a fun show like Indian Matchmaking or The British Tribe Next Door.
The live clinic I’ve stopped watching live, I watch when I can sit at the desk with a cup of tea or paint in my journal as I listen along, anywhere but the bed and not while multi-tasking.
Other positive helpers:
- Exercising 5 mornings a week 20-40 minutes.
- Meditation 20-30 minutes afterward.
- Journaling 10-20 minutes a day and writing 3 main tasks to do a day.
- Talking on the phone with friends.
- Listening to what I FEEL to do rather than need or expect of myself and ALLOWING myself to enjoy it eg. Watching a show 1 hour a week doesn’t make me a lazy slob. Pancakes with peaches and chocolate sauce for lunch once in a while and buying a desk I’ve thought about getting for 6 months that was reduced in price.
- Writing three things I’m grateful for at the end of the day. I’ve since extended it to something I found hard and what I learned from it.
- Eating regularly and having hot drinks – Making a cup of tea and a snack before the little one wakes has made a huge difference as I no longer fret that I have a chest infection and instead feel calmer and steadier before the day begins.