Anxiety is a fun time, huh? (Said no one ever!). It’s a hindrance and burden. It’s an uninvited guest into our lives. It causes us to decline invitations, not try things, avoid answering the phone, and perhaps self-medicate too. Anxiety stinks! And, it shows up for many women in ways that aren’t so “standard.” Do any of these ring true for you?
Anxious and Angry
Grrrrr!!! You can’t believe that your co-worker did you like that! On top of that, someone just cut you off in traffic. Upon getting home, your daughter painted her nails (and the wall) after you told her not to for the fourteenth time just yesterday. Sometimes, anxiety comes out in straight up anger. Anger creates chemicals in our bodies that when used for perfectly human reasons, can be healthy. (Such as when you witness an injustice.) Yet, when it’s just over “small stuff” that you won’t remember tomorrow or in a week, it’s only hurting you. Often it’s because we let our anxiety build up to the point that it reaches unhealthy levels. It explodes in anger. This is one way that anxiety can overflow and express itself in our day to day lives.
We all have a friend, or maybe we do this ourselves, who ghosts us. They stop answering the phone. They decline every single invitation. You stop seeing them, period. In our digital age, it’s too easy to hide behind social media. With anxiety, sometimes, we hide behind our phones and completely check out of the real world. It’s fear-based anxiety. And, the more we play into it, the more and more fearful and withdrawn we become. We lose our sense of community and kind of “forget” how to act around acquaintances, friends and loved ones. Mothers can do this to a deeper extreme. Once we become mothers, we become engulfed in a world that is decades younger than us. How do we act “adult” again? It can be frightening trying to remember! Anxiety can capture us with fear, leading to withdrawal from social activities.
Wine on Wednesdays can turn into wine every night with anxiety. Or sleeping pills, or too much Xanax, or diet pills, or Adderall, or whatever your favorite vice is. In moderation, substances are not THE cause of our ills. It’s when we rely on them to function as “normal” adults, yet we actually begin to lose our functionality that the problem begins. Anxiety is physically painful and mentally exhausting. Pills and booze can make us feel temporarily better, yet over time, we need more and more of the substance to get to that “happy” balance. And, sooner or later, it’s not a happy place anymore. Not one single person on this planet has been able to successfully abuse substances. Everyone quits and gets better, or continues and suffers. There is no happy medium when you are engaging in substance abuse to cope with anxiety.
Healthy Strategies for Coping with Anxiety
You can’t just tell anxiety to go away. It just doesn’t work like that, as anyone with anxiety would tell you. Anxiety is tough! Yet, you can learn coping strategies.
And, be gentle with yourself. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for everyone. Not all of us can sit in a full lotus position every morning meditating. We can modify some techniques to work for us though. So, maybe you try meditation, but perhaps it’s set to music, while lying down. Or, maybe meditation for you is a long hike. Or, learning an instrument. Maybe it’s singing in the shower. Or spending time with your kids. It can be anything that makes your soul happy.
Here are a few ideas to try:
- Calling a Friend
- Doing a Puzzle
- Getting Organized
Sometimes just a small step in the right direction can lead to huge progress. If you need support in your journey, Soul Song Counseling is a private counseling practice for women experiencing anxiety in their lives.