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Dealing with Anxiety is my Superpower

Hello 2021, so far things aren’t looking a whole lot different in our lives than they were in 2020. Covid-19 is still front and center, masks are our must have wardrobe accessory, eating out is a thing of the past, a lot of us are still working from home with our kids as officemates. What is different is that there is finally hope on the horizon, vaccinations are finally here! God bless the scientists who created these vials of hope on such a short timeline, the brilliance that was required is mind boggling, but very much appreciated.

With all this wonderful hope, there remains this niggling fear that twists in the pit of our stomach everytime we sneeze or God forbid someone coughs in our presence, because Covid is a scary @#$%^$#$! We see the videos everyday of patients on ventilators and those who were deniers saying that they totally believe now as they try to suck oxygen into their damaged lungs. It is the stuff of nightmares and as we have just about reached a year of this and there is no real end in sight, anxiety is something that has become a constant companion.

Anyone who has ever dealt with anxiety can tell you, it isn’t always like Hollywood portrays it with the sweaty face, falling to the floor, rocking in a corner, meltdown performance. It is often a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, nausea, racing thoughts, headache and the internal plea to just paste a smile on your face and act the part until you can fall apart in private. It feels like the end of the world, when rationally, you know it isn’t and most likely you will survive another day. But in the moment, all your worst fears seem so real.

“It is very hard to explain to people who have never known serious depression or anxiety the sheer continuous intensity of it. There is no off switch.” -Matt Haig

This week it was back to school after a much needed holiday break. Not having to get up early is a huge win for every family and mandatory relaxing due to Covid restrictions was actually much needed. The two weeks flew by and then it was back to reality. If you send your child to in person learning or have to return to work in person, the anxiety starts right away, are we safe, are we putting ourselves in harm's way, is everyone going to be okay, did we make the right decision?

We start feeling the punch in the gut sensation, the nausea, the worry clawing away at our brain...how can we control that which we have no control over? How are we going to get through this semester and will next year be this scary? The fear is overwhelming when you are in the midst of an attack, embarrassment creeps up your face and then suddenly you remember to breathe, you put on your big kid knickers and you employ your coping skills and/or you take your medication, call your therapist and wait for your brain to simmer down.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”
-Corrie Ten Boom

Some tips to add to your Anti-anxiety arsenal:
1. Picture something that brings you instant peace.
Mountains, the beach, being with your adorable dog...it is totally up to you, picture it, bring up your visual, your literal happy place.

2. Find a “security blanket.”
When you are out living your life you don’t always have the ability to slink off to a dark room and ride out the anxiety. Let’s be honest, it usually hits at the most inopportune times anyway, so what is something you can do to help bring things back under control?

Practice window breathing. Breathe in slowly through my nose up the side of an imaginary window or box, breathe out through your nose across the window. Breathe in slowly going down and out slowly going across. The focus needed to complete the box helps, the slow inhales and exhales will assist your heart rate in slowly returning to normal and your level of panic will decrease. Continue as long as needed.

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
-Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation

3. Distract yourself.
Finding something to do with your hands will distract your brain, it is like patting your head and rubbing your tummy, it is hard to do both at the same time. Cross stitching, making pom poms (pinterest tutorials), coloring books and puzzles are all very mind soothing, it engages our brains but doesn’t require massive attention. It is like driving on the highway to downshifting and then finally coasting on a back road.

“Anxiety's like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far.”
- Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home

The bravest people aren’t those who seemingly have their life together. The bravest people imaginable are those who are open and honest about their messy and imperfect lives. When you are struggling, but still get up everyday and fight, living for the day when life doesn’t seem so hard, you are showing the world and yourself how amazing you are. We all struggle, we all have our issues and crosses to bear, we are all scared, some of us manage to go about life in spite of it all with a stiff upper lip and others, we wear our hearts on our sleeve. Neither is right or wrong, both are incredibly brave, because in spite of anxiety and fear, we choose to live and fight another day.

“It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”
-Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

You are all brave beyond measure,
-Team SG

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