How To Cross The Anxiety Bridge
photo credit: NathanF
If you’re anything like me than you are anxious about something almost everyday. This is a sometimes light but ever present feeling that something is wrong. This is always compounded when something is, or at least perceived, to be wrong. In both cases a good tip is to wait and see what happens before getting panicked.
A good analogy is a bridge crossing. The bridge’s span in this case is representative of an anxiety symptom. How do you cross it without veering off course?
Now trust me when I say that doing the above isn’t easy. And that’s because nothing to do with living an anxious life is easy. In particular, is the ever present panic (even inner panic) caused by anxiety symptoms, especially the weird ones that seemingly have no explanation.
Let me give you a real world example. Today I was at work and sitting in front of the flickering lights of my PC when all of a sudden my scalp became numb. Yea, seriously, my head was numb much like when an arm or leg goes numb. Initially I was startled because my mind my anxiety told me that this was dangerous.
After a few quick rubs of the head I logically realized that this was not an urgent matter. I was conscious, talking, able to see, breath, etc. So I did what a lot of anxious people do, I called my safe person. For those of you that don’t know, a safe person is a confidant that you lean on in times of high anxiety.
My safe person reminded me of what my logical mind had already established, namely that I was o.k. After the call I went back to my desk and continued to work with no issue. That’s not to say that my head wasn’t numb but only to point out that I had bought myself some time.
After about an hour I felt better and pretty much forgot about it. And that’s the morale of this story – if you wait it out usually the anxiety symptom will fade.
I understand how hard it is to rationalize with anxiety because by definition the feelings and thoughts created by anxiety disorders are irrational. Even so, staying calm long enough to let a symptom pass can help you avoid a protracted battle of mental anxiety about the symptom later on.
Moreover, anxiety has a way of creating psychosomatic sensations that are more based on fear and not physical ailment and realizing this is key. So when an anxiety symptom like twitching muscles, dizziness, numbness, or anything else strikes take an inventory of the following.
1. Can you walk without losing your balance?
2. Can you breath (and talk).
3. Can you see?
4. Are you in serious pain?
If you can do these three things and are not in serious pain then it is unlikely that you are in an emergency situation. Obviously you know yourself best so use common sense. If you ever feel really bad it never hurts to get checked out.
I think it’s important to ask yourself these questions because you need to know, on a logical level, if you’re o.k. What does your gut tell you? If your gut says you’re o.k., but your anxiety says otherwise give it some time before you assume the worst. Be patient with yourself and the symptoms you endure and you should see some reduction in your anxious reaction to anxiety symptoms. Most of the time the issue is not our symptoms, it’s our reaction to them that counts for most of our grief.
As you try to cross that bridge don’t look down (i.e., over analyze) as it were. Sit back and give yourself time to cross the span and 9 times out of 10 you will get across just fine.