Mild Anxiety Strategies

Photo of me by Pamm

I used to suffer from major, crazy anxiety, panic attacks, etc. When I went on a raw food diet, my psyche calmed, and I was much better equipped to deal with shit that happened, or imagined terrors. I had way more confidence and joy.

I do still have a mild form of anxiety – I think it is mainly due to being accustomed to solitude – over the last 3 years I have gotten used to living on my own, being with someone who is a loner, and generally fading out of a social scene I had gotten burnt out on.

So now, especially in summer, when there are tons of things I want to do, I freeze. When I make plans, I sometimes chicken out at the last moment or the night before, dreaming up some mishaps that could occur, or problems I don’t want to deal with.

These could be as asinine as: “what if there is no parking and I have to PAY for it? What if it’s expensive! What if I don’t see anyone I know? What if I hate it? What if there is traffic, it’s hot out and I have no air conditioning! What if I look fat! I look bloated today!”

Yesterday I almost bailed out on something I look forward to all year, the Zombie Walk – my boyfriend and my friend bowed out, and so I thought “Oh god, I don’t want to go by myself!” My back is messed up … but it’s only walking. I certainly did not want to drive downtown and pay park, and I started to get nervous about being dressed as a zombie on transit. I didn’t want to be the only one.

Then my brain said, “When have you EVER cared about people thinking you look weird? You usually revel in it!”

And that’s when I knew I really didn’t care, and that I would go anyway. I remembered how fun it was to go out and make people stare.
Even as I left the house, I felt like it might rain – and I went back inside. I said, “NO! You are just looking for excuses not to go! Stop it!” and I locked the door and walked to the bus stop. I got waved at by a laughing Asian man, and the bus driver liked my outfit. She knew where I was going.

Then of course, as I departed the skytrain into the city, there was one other girl I spotted, bloody and beautiful, and I said she looked great. Immediately I made a new friend and then several more once we arrived.

My anxiety was for nothing  – the weather was perfect, I had a fantastic time, and my boyfriend even made an appearance to come and greet me when I walked near his building.

Photo by Thomas Jay Bruyere

So my strategy to deal with these things is this:

1. Ask yourself if you are just LOOKING for reasons to avoid something.

2. Pressure yourself to ignore those thoughts, especially if you know later you will regret not attending something or doing something that you know you’d love.

3. Realize that soon you will be an old fogie and you will have wished you made the most of your life, and that time does not include sitting around watching torrents of old TV shows.

4. Just turn off your brain and DO IT ANYWAY. This is the thing that has helped me the most. I just completely ignore all the dumb reasons NOT to do something. Even if I can’t think of reasons TO do something (other than I’d like to) I ignore the bad thoughts and run towards the destination regardless. Whatever happens will happen. And whatever does, I will DEAL WITH IN THAT MOMENT. Like you would ANYWAY, worrying or not.

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