It seems like whenever I ask someone how they’re doing lately, the typical response is “good but SO busy.” So I think we can all relate to feeling overwhelmed by schedules. Lately, my anxiety has been getting the best of me. I’ve gone from enjoying my life to feeling like I’m on a roller coaster, filled with corkscrews and sudden drops, and there’s absolutely no harness keeping me in place. So the point of this blog is to discover ways to find and secure the harness I’m desperately needing.
Another lovely bonus of having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is that I have certain imbalances that unfortunately cause some major anxiety issues, and subsequently, I have been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. So that means I need to constantly be reminding myself that the situation at hand is way less stressful than it appears to be. When you’re an emotionally reactive person (aka me), this tends to be a bit of a challenge. Statistics show that this is one of the most common anxiety disorders among adults, so I thought I’d share my plan of attack in case someone else can benefit from the things I’m sharing and discovering. I really believe that the struggles we face are pointless if we cannot turn them around for some good. I can’t change them, so I might as well try to make the situation a little less dark and pray that in sharing, someone else will find what they’re looking for.
Here are some ideas of what I’m going to try out to alleviate my stress.
Rate it on the Stress Scale
I learned this in therapy, and I never really put it into action, despite how useful it sounded. So now I’m bringing it back. On a piece of paper, make a list 1 through 10. Then start scaling out stressful situations (1 being on the lower end/10 being the worst thing ever). So 1 could be, “I accidentally wore two different shoes” (literally happened to me a couple of weeks ago)… not a big deal, but it might cause the slightest bit of stress. 10 is going to have to be the most extreme level of stress you can think of, such as the loss of a loved one or a terminal illness.
When your anxiety is seeming to peak, pull out the scale. Assess where your level of stress SHOULD fall, and then pinpoint what you’re making it. Do your best to focus on where the stress level should fall until your anxiety calms down a little bit.
This is more of a distraction method. I find that if I can focus on something positive that’s happening in the future, it forces me to have feelings of excitement rather than the overwhelming stress. It could be something as simple as hanging out with my nephews or something big like a vacation you have planned. Whatever it is, focus really hard on that and it can possibly force your stress to temporarily back down.
The Obvious Ones
Write down EVERY single thing that is causing you to stress out. Find the ones that can be eliminated, and eliminate them immediately. I promise you (and myself) that cancelling plans or saying “no” will not cause the world to implode.
Work on your health! Eat better and eliminate garbage foods, regardless of how much you’re craving them (I’ve already started this and two weeks in, I’ve noticed major changes). Take your vitamins and even more importantly, S-L-E-E-P!!! Do whatever you can to rest. When I’m tired, which is basically always, my emotions are on steroids.
Helpful tips for sleeping better:
- Put your phone in a spot where you’d have to physically get out of bed to reach it.
- Take longer and deeper breaths.
- Listen to calming music without words. I know that if I listen to anything with words, I’m going to focus on whatever they’re saying and find myself too interested in it to allow my brain to rest.
- Pray pray pray!!! Pray for peace and talk to God until you fall asleep. Maybe read Psalms 116:7 and 4:8 a few times.
- Drink sleepy time tea about an hour before you plan on heading to bed.
- Read something extremely boring.
Remember Who’s in Charge!
Make yourself a “Battle Cry” bible verse sheet. It sounds cheesy, but reading verses out loud when I’m under stress can really create that unexplained peace. Here are some of my favorite verses to cling to when my anxiety seems to be taking control:
- Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
- Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
- Isaiah 41:13-14 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you; do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
- Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
- Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.”
- Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
- Deuteronomy 3:22 “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”
- Mark 5:36 “Jesus told him, ‘don’t be afraid; just believe.’”
I could keep going. I think God knew we were all going to be stressed out – maybe that’s why He talks about it so much. Truth is, when I’m allowing my anxiety to win, it means I’m putting God on the back burner, and that is a very dangerous place to be in. Letting go is incredibly hard, but honestly, we truly don’t have control over much in life. Typically the things I stress about are things that are unable to be changed. Reminding myself that the God of the universe IS in control can really make a big difference. This is something I need to work on reminding myself multiple times a day.
The end goal here isn’t to change much about my life but to change how I react to things. Mainly because the stress levels lately have truly been on the higher end of the scale, so I need to get things in check before they become too out of control to manage. I’m hoping that if I keep practicing these items, they’ll eventually become a habit, and the roller coaster of life will seem more enjoyable because my safety harness is fully locked. If you’re reading these and trying some of them yourself, I’d love to hear how it’s going! If you have other ideas, please feel free to list them as well.