Take Back Control to Ease Anxiety
You can ease anxiety surprisingly well if you know the role that being in control plays in your anxiety attacks. Research shows that anxiety disorder exists because of either a lack of control or a desire to be in control. You’ve probably felt that yourself during an attack – fear of losing control.
How much control do you really have over your life? Do you doubt yourself? During an anxiety attack, do you feel like you are losing what little control you do have?
One of the most helpful revelations for me in my recovery from anxiety and panic was that I needed to take control of my life. It came near the end of my 10 years of therapy for anxiety and panic disorder.
My therapist hinted during one of our later sessions that I get involved in something I really enjoy, like archaeology. As it happens, archaeology does interest me so his suggestion was like an omen.
On taking a closer look at my anxiety attacks, I discovered that at the root of my persistent fears was not knowing what would happen and feeling helpless to do anything about it. I felt like I was at the mercy of whatever perils awaited.
You probably feel much the same way too, don’t you?
My general make-up is that of a rather rebellious individual who tends to be persistently late and determined to do things my own way.
Being late always gave me that ounce of control that made me feel better. Early on, I had no idea what this meant. Today, I place a lot of my ultimate recovery on this determination to be my own person.
That inner strength wasn’t always there. As a child, I was denied control over most aspects of my life, which left me doubting my ability to make decisions as an adult. But that was how it was back in the ‘50s. Children were taught to be seen and not heard. Adults made all the decisions.
If any of you are from that era, or have been raised in a family with those principles, this might be at the root of your anxiety. Of course, we are all different. Not everyone has the inner strength and determination that I do, which makes it more difficult for them to escape their current condition.
The important thing is that you find your own ground and build on your strengths, rather than focusing on your anxiety and panic.
As I eventually learned, being obsessed with my condition didn’t lead to recovery – it merely fed off itself.
It’s not easy to make this transition when anxiety is what you wake up to every morning, when it has become so ingrained into your life that you cannot tell it from your true personality.
My recovery started to really take off when I took an archaeology-related night course at my old high school. Reading the books and writing the reviews forced me to put all my energy into something else besides my fear. It was an incredibly absorbing activity that at least for the short term made the anxiety seem non-existent.
Do you have hobbies and talents you haven’t used since you were a child or a teen? Have you put old pastimes aside and let your busy schedule occupy all of your time?
We all need a distraction, perhaps moreso for people with anxiety disorder.
Go back over your life to spot your strengths. Check any old school report cards if you can’t think of any. What were your strong subjects? Find ways to use your natural skills again, get involved in the things that you once enjoyed whether it’s a sport or something more academic.
It might be painting/drawing, making crafts, playing badminton/tennis, cooking, woodworking, team sports, photography, gardening, writing, volunteering…
Get involved in those experiences again because those were the times you probably felt truly in control. Being active in something that makes you feel good will help you to redirect your thoughts and feelings to positive energy, rather than the negative that goes with anxiety disorder.