Sunday, June 1, 2014

In Our Last Episode...

In my last blog post, “My Trip to the Mega-Store”, I wrote extensively about my struggles with anxiety.  I had some trepidation about making that post, but it turned out to be a great move.  
  • It was my most viewed blog post ever, even after just one week.
  • Several people let me know that they deal with anxiety too and appreciated what I had to say, even saying that I gave them a couple ideas on how to deal with it.
  • One friend sent the post to her daughter, in hopes that the young lady wouldn't feel so alone in her struggle.
  • I've had a number of people ask me, “when’s your next blog post?” Hint: here it is (and sorry it took so long. Sometimes your author procrastinates).
Funny how something I almost didn't post actually turned out to be such a huge positive… not only for me, but for a lot of people.

I have been working very hard since on properly managing my anxiety. Among other things, I've finished two books on the subject.
Yes, I read a book by a “Jersey Shore” cast member.
Make no mistake, though: this is an excellent book. Vinny details his struggles with anxiety and puts forth a holistic plan for dealing with it all.  The book is a quick, easy read.  I found it in the young adult section of the library, in fact, so it would be perfect for teens and pre-teens.

I’ve long been a fan of the “...For Dummies” series.  I certainly consider myself a “dummy”, but I do appreciate the soup to nuts approach the series offers.  This book is no exception.  It covers anxiety (and how to manage it) from every angle imaginable. The book contains a veritable arsenal of tools one can put to use
One particularly useful technique I picked up was how to manage my breathing.  When you feel the anxiety start to rise, do the following:
  • Breath in deeply, through your nose, to the count of five.
  • Breath out through your mouth to the count of five.
  • Repeat until you feel more calmer and more level.
  • You may want to incorporate a mantra, as mentioned below.
I’ve adopted a couple other techniques:
A mantra. A single word you say when you start to get stressed.  For me it’s “calm”.  I also will visualize the smooth surface of a lake, which helps me maintain a smooth surface of my own.
A totem. I found a small piece of smooth, rounded glass that I keep in my pocket. When stress and anxiety rear their ugly hydra heads, I will take the glass piece out of my pocket and run my fingers over the smooth surface. I will go back to the that mental visual of the glass-like surface of a lake, enhanced by the tactile sensation of my totem.
I’ve found that exercise continues to be a great cure for whatever anxiety that ails me.  I will not only work off some steam, but I will always get a nice dose of nature’s own happy drug, endorphins.  There’s also much to be said for the feeling of accomplishment one gets after completing a good workout.

More important that almost anything: WHY.  A day came, not so long ago, that I realized I was getting worse over time.  I knew I had to take immediate, definitive, massive action or this anxiety would completely rule my life. I have to consistently manage what’s going on in my head, just as I consistently work out.  I’ve seen what it did to others over time, and I want a better life for myself.  It was time to draw a line in the sand.
The line is drawn.  I stand and fight.  If you struggle too, I will fight with you.  And we will win.