Chest pain is no joke. Several years ago the internal pressure of life eked out in the form of breathtaking pain that radiated from my chest, upward through my neck, and onward to my arm. Being the intelligent being that I am, I did exactly what I’ve been taught to do. I ignored it.
Quite a few additional episodes convinced me to have it checked out. My doctor said everything inside looks fine from a physical perspective. “Any stress in your life?” Stress? I live for stress. Anxiety? I am not an anxious person. People have described me as peaceful and calm. He prescribed anti-anxiety medication four years ago that is now powder in the bottom of the bottle because I refuse to take medicine to treat something I do not have. Anxiety and stubbornness are a committed couple in our family’s tree.
Over the years, I have learned that anxiety presents itself in many ways. The typical racing heart, sweaty palms, shaky hands, and panic get a lot of attention. Silent anxiety not so much. Can anyone relate? The ball of fiery emotion stays contained in a deep place where it is examined, analyzed, poked at and prodded until it comes out by means of 1) list making; 2) driving for hours to think; 3) house cleaning; 4) organizing, even things previously organized; 5) more list making; and the list goes on.
The things closest to us are often the most difficult to see. On occasion I have judged others who struggle with anxiety and wished they could just “get over it,” not realizing I was in the same war different battle. Surrounded by lists and viewpoints that get set in concrete as each day passes is the same anxiety as the kind that comes out in others as sweat and fear.
You are not alone if anxiety keeps you stuck and afraid of change. Our brains are wired to protect us and our world is a dangerous place. So what can we do? The following is a meager start. OCD warning: this list contains 7 suggestions instead of five or ten.
- Let go of control. Admitting I am not God goes a long way.
- Let go of the opinion of others. Here is where I get stuck. I have stopped writing many times because I came to believe others can do it better.
- Embrace the present moment as if it were sacred.
- Accept help from others. Allowing others to assist us not only relieves personal anxiety but allows others to feel strengthened and needed as well.
- Connect spiritually. God waits for us to acknowledge His presence.
- Connect with nature. The earth is alive with the healing we need. Get out and interact with it.
- Go anyway. Fear diminishes when we confront it.
A good counselor or friend can be irreplaceable, so find someone. Being alone and anxious is never a good combination. Anxiety, whether apparent or silent, does not have to define us. See ya outside.
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