Anxiety loop

I’ve found myself in a bit of a self-perpetuating loop lately. I fight hard against anxiety and for the most part win the battle. Covid though, and in particular lockdown make the wins exhausting as we are literally staying at home for our own safety. How can you not be triggered by this and potentially spiral when you have health anxiety?

I am not an overly patient person and if something needs doing, I like to just get on and do it. I guess to add a positive spin you’d call it proactive! So rather than wait for a panic attack to strike again, I have equipped myself with some experts to listen to and activities to try so I thought I would share incase you too feel on the edge of a spiral.

I can’t recommend Anna Mathur enough. Her Therapy Edit podcast has ten minute episodes on different topics which is the perfect amount of time to pop one on whilst doing a task like filling the dishwasher. I took it one step further this evening and paid to listen to her webinar. It was empowering and I’m totally girl crushing as she’s just so stunningly beautiful. Think of it as more like listening to a good friend over a stuffy, jargon filled old-school therapist.

Anna made so many points tonight that resonated but in particular one stuck with me that might help you too. I need to stop putting myself into other people’s stories. My anxious mind watches a news piece about a healthy and active 32-year-old mother who is on a ventilator fighting for her life. I am 32. I am a mother. It quickly becomes a forgone conclusion in my mind that I will contract the virus and end up on a ventilator. What if I die? How will my husband cope with three children? Will it be all my fault as I ate too much during the pregnancy so weigh more than I should right now? I’m exhausted just writing down a fraction of the thoughts down.

Barry McDonagh’s book, The Dare Method, is also something I always come back to. I have the audiobook version so his Irish tones make the experience even better. Without being dramatic, this book changed my life when I suffered with panic attacks a few years ago. Having never experienced anything like it before, the book was amazing at helping me work through it.

Go outdoors and if you can, stick some headphones in and get outside of your head with something funny to listen to, or some of your favourite songs. I made up a memories playlist of songs that all have meaning and transport me back to a particular event. It’s impossible not to smile listening to a song you’ve performed drunk with your best friends to your equally drunk but unimpressed husbands.

So this week I am going to try to stop writing myself into the narrative. It might happen but as Anna says “I will cross that bridge if I get to it.” The focus being on the “if”. I’m also going to have a Friday night disco with the kids and slip in some memory songs to make me smile.

Anna Mathur

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