Tools for an Anxious Season

So much in life is out of control and we have to ride the wave of intense emotions. The wave I keep having to get back up and ride is anxiety- the feeling of dread/inner turmoil of an upcoming event.

I have putting off a tooth problem for now over a year. Honestly the saga has been going on for 4 years. I had a botched root canal that they wanted to go back in and correct and I was like, “No way, it sucked the first time around so I am not signing up for round 2.” So I opted to have it pulled. And then for a year and a half I had mystery pain on that side of my head that no one could figure out: dentist, neurologist, ENT, and pain specialist. So I had to let go of finding the answer and save us money on any more appointments. The pain eventually faded but my sinus has never been the same.

I am thankful to not be living with daily pain anymore. In that season I was way more aware of my friends with chronic pain because I too was walking that path. I was often blown away because their pain was far greater and they have had to endure far longer. Had I not walked that path, I am certain that those new compassion capacities would not exist.

So during that long year I had to use tools regularly so when anxiety reared its head I felt equipped to deal with it. Don’t get me wrong- I still hate being in this place and feeling yucky over stress. True, sometimes I can feel frustrated that I am again riding this merry-go-round of anxiety but I have come to accept that anxiety comes easier to me than others. The Lord has made me with the gift of empathy and with that I feel like I have heightened sensitivity not just in the realm of empathy but in my body too. My husband jokes that I have spidey senses. Like one time I was walking our cul de sac and could swear I smelled natural gas that no one else could smell. I followed my gut and called the gas company. They came out, found a gas leak, dug up the lot and replaced a pipe. So basically I saved our family and neighbors. lol. So I am learning not to despise my sensitive nature. I believe it is a gift more than a hindrance or weight though learning to navigate in a healthy way has been heavy at times.

I remember a specific time that I asked my psychiatrist how do I listen to other peoples’ stories without myself feeling the heaviness they share. I told her during listening at times I myself would become anxious or felt physically ill. She reminded me that I needed emotional boundaries and that I needed to remember this is their anxiety not mine and that my body was separate. She gave me tactile ways to do that like pausing looking into their eyes and instead looking out the window at the trees and sky. She also said I could tap my leg with my hand under the table without anyone being aware of what I was doing in order to remind me that my body was separate and this was their experience and not mine. And there is always the practice of deep belly breaths where you inhale as long as you can trying to make your belly expand more than your chest then fully exhaling.

Ok back to why I have been anxious in this current season. With having that tooth gone it is believed that my bite is thrown off and I am putting too much pressure on the back loner tooth so the belief is that an implant should balance it out. So 2 days before the procedure I was starting to feel the anxiety in my physical body. So here are some of the things I did to get unstuck:

  • I got outside to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful distraction of a mile walk. That made things a billion times better.
  • I did try to do mediation/centering prayer but my mind was too stuck so I had to distract my body with movement and distract my mind with another focus.
  • I distracted my mind with blessing another with a gift. I love putting together gift baskets. So my plan was to go to dollar tree and make a candy bouquet but last minute lunch invite from hubby won over. I instead quickly bought a DQ gift card, Jersey Mike’s Gift card and a card from Walgreens. The gift was for a crossing guard at my child’s school. She had been out for a week and when she returned I wanted her to feel seen and missed. After talking with her I found out that she had a death and that is why she was out. I believe my gift of empathy is just a conduit in which God leads me to love others.
  • The last thing that helped me to get my focus off of anxiety was praise music. I turned on the radio and 2 songs helped me. In You by Iveth Luna and Trust in You by Lauren Daigle.