Why am I feeling so anxious?
Right now, I am feeling incredibly anxious. I can’t really pinpoint what is causing it, but I do know that I am irritable, talking over my co-workers and feeling helpless.
Anxiety often stems from feeling out of control -- feeling that things are happening to you. It comes from your schedule being disrupted, your child not doing what you asked him to do, your partner forgetting to take out the trash. Suddenly, it feels like it is all directed at you. Right now, there are layers of disruption occurring simultaneously – at the macro level, hurricanes, earthquakes, and reversals in public policy. Then the next layer, community, going back to school, adjusting to a new schedule and different traffic patterns. Finally, the personal level, perhaps not having the time to take care of yourself because you need to insure you focus on others and their schedules or perhaps this is a particularly hectic time at work.
Just notice these layers of change that are impacting you, maybe not directly, but enough to cause you to feel off balance and agitated. It is human nature to personalize it. It feels chaotic and disturbing. Even for those of us who like to try new activities, and like starts and beginnings, we like them when we decide to do them, not when change is imposed on us.
Life transitions create change not only physically, but to our roles in life, and in dealing with unknowns. All of this causes uncertainty and insecurity in knowing what to do –ANXIETY.
What to do about it?
If you are fortunate enough to have a self-care practice that you love such as working out or meditation, prioritize it! Don’t skip your best, proven method of maintaining your balance. If you typically practice this 3 times/week, make it 4. Just for now.
Identify your favorite activities for distraction – binge watching a TV series, reading, listening to music, playing with your dog. Recognize that these activities are a short-term fix. Long term, they may get in the way of you addressing your underlying emotions because they are taking you away from self-awareness and self-compassion.
Finally, let’s examine self-compassion. One of the leading experts on self-compassion, Dr. Kristin Neff, has an excellent You Tube video explaining her research, and an outstanding website, www.self-compassion.org which has exercises you can try. To paraphrase what self-compassion is, it is being kind to yourself, noticing the hypercritic within you, and stopping the negative self-talk that you might not even speak describing your worst enemy. Many of us are our own harshest critic. “I’m such a loser. I should have known better. If only I had, …” Stop!
We are all human. We are all flawed. We can learn from our mistakes. Focus on being forward facing and setting future goals.
Hopefully, if you are dealing with bouts of anxiety, you can benefit from some of the suggestions in this blog. Of course, as a therapist, I also recommend that you find a therapist that can guide you in your work to understand yourself and to improve your life balance.
Katie Militello, LMFT
Coherence Associates, Inc.