Dealing with Anxiety: Long-term Maintenance

This post is Part 4 of a four-part series on anxiety. You can find some general thoughts about anxiety in the Prologue, some ideas for dealing with anxiety in the moment in Part 2, and ways to head off anxiety as it hits in Part 3. Please note I am not a medical professional. In these posts I am sharing my experiences and insights in the hopes they will help others. Seek medical help if you need it.

Dealing with your anxiety over the long term is just like any other kind of long-term solution. That is, it’s not that glamorous or exciting, it doesn’t usually have an immediate pay off and it sounds too easy. There has to be a trick, right? Getting in better shape can’t just mean exercising regularly. The key has to be a certain set of exercises, a correct time to work out, just the right sport drink or workout pants.

Most long-term maintenance is pretty simple on paper. Just a few simple steps. But those simple steps need to be put into effect daily. As is every day. And every day after that. Doesn’t seem like that should be so hard, yet somehow it is. Maybe it’s because these steps are not one-time fixes; they are new habits we need to develop. Maybe it’s because they involve a shift in mind set, in this case, permission to not be anxious. Maybe it’s that they are actions to take, and those of us who deal with anxiety tend to be head-based; we want to solve our problems by thinking our way out of them. Maybe it’s that there isn’t an immediate payoff for doing them nor is there an immediate consequence for not doing them.

I am going to share four simple thing I strive to do to manage my anxiety and build my long-term emotional health. I slip up. I forget. I get lazy. But the nice thing is all I need to do to get back on track is just start again. Continue reading

Dealing Anxiety: In the Moment

This post is Part 2 of a four-part series on anxiety. You can find some general thoughts about anxiety in the Prologue. Please note I am not a medical professional. In these posts I am sharing my experiences and insights in the hopes they will help others. Please seek medical help if you need it.

I rarely have anxiety attacks, at least severe ones. For me anxiety is more a constant companion, a white noise that grinds me down and colors all my decisions and actions. Every so often, though, it all becomes too much and my heart races, my stomach churns and my throat tightens.  I pace and can’t concentrate and sometimes I even am tempted to emit a high pitched moan-whine-groan hybrid noise. Not pleasant. Continue reading

Dealing with Anxiety: The Prologue

This post Part 1 of a four-part series on anxiety. Please note I am not a medical professional. In these posts I am sharing my experiences and insights in the hopes they will help others. Please seek medical help if you need it.

The last month or so has been stressful for me, and it’s only ramping up. The details are not important right now. Stress is a reality in everyone’s life – it never actually seems to leave, it just ebbs and flows. And the particular stressors I am dealing with are nothing new for me. It’s almost like we are becoming old friends. Well, maybe not friends. More like familiar enemies.

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Book Review: Switch

“I’ve got a book you should read.”

It was my first conversation with the lead pastor at my new job. The Head Honcho. The Big Guy. He’d been on sabbatical when I was hired. Had been understandably busy when he returned and I tend to keep my head down in new situations – at least until I get the lay of the land and have sussed out all the players.

But my team had just given a presentation at an all staff meeting. We were laying out changes to the way communications would be handled starting in the new year and what we needed everyone to do to make it successful. Very logical, very detailed and yet somehow there was the sense it was all for naught.

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A Snow Day for the Soul

I don’t really need to post a picture of the what’s coming down from the sky, so I? We’ve all seen some version of the same photo on Facebook or Twitter or a news site — or even the olde timey TV. A background blurred by snow or sleet or ice. Someone (or maybe a Tusken Raider, who can tell under all those clothes) shoveling or pushing on a car or falling in a humorous manner.

There seems be to an informal contest over who has it worse, who’s a winter lightweight and who just fricking needs to learn to drive in the snow. It’s cold where I am! You think that’s bad, it was -20 below last night! We got 6 inches of snow! We got sleet! Our schools closed again! Our city is iced in! Our governor closed the whole state!

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Dancing with Resistance and Getting my House in Order

It’s Halloween. I woke to a Facebook picture of a friend in green translucent makeup. I got my morning coffee from a guy dressed like Waldo. If this year is like the past several I will again and again wonder why a big bearded guy dressed as a ballerina is buying cold medicine, or the teller at the bank is doing Elvis impressions. It’s not that I don’t like Halloween, I do. I guess I just have a short attention span.

It’s good weather for Halloween today. It’s foggy and dark and even now, at ten in the morning, I can imagine spirits emerging from behind the parked cars and making their way through the strip mall parking lot toward me. The space between this world and whatever world lies just out of sight seems very narrow today.

It is a good day to get ready for an adventure.

November is National Novel Writing Month. If you know about it, you know the drill. 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1667 words a day. Every day. For 30 days. There is only one way to do it, realistically: no edits, not questions, no doubts. Chris Baty, the founder compares it to snapping the rearview mirrors off your car and driving as fast as you can. Continue reading

Gathering Sun Rays

Today was a good day.

There was a lot on my to-do list. They were not all pleasant things. I had some emails to answer that I wasn’t looking forward to. There were minutes from a meeting months ago I needed to type and send out. I had work to do for a client that — although I do this kind of work a lot — I was suddenly worried I would not be able to do. Worst of all, it was a beautiful day outside and like all Minnesotans this time of year I am aware these days are ticking away.

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