29 Aug

Nothing is certain except that everything changes, including levels of stress, anxiety and the types of things we stress about. To be plagued by unrelenting worries & experience a body that is primed to fight, flee, freeze or flop is awful and will eventually pass, except, if there is something you need to be doing to address it. Simple check: Is this a worry or a problem?

If it’s a worry, these things are out of your control, you can do nothing about, and there is little point worrying. Tell yourself a version of the following statement: “Thankyou mind for reminding me of all the things that could go wrong. I hear you. And I have a life to live, so I’m going to get back to doing that”. Repeat as often as needed. 

If it’s a problem that needs to be solved, get on with solving it. To calm the body that is primed for danger, ready to fight, flee, freeze or flop (clenching jaw, shoulders/neck tense, churning stomach, pounding heart, constricted breathing, trembling hands, perspiring), AND there is no actual present danger, try the following:

  • Say to yourself “I am safe”
  • Breathe – doesn’t matter what counted breathing technique you use – even up the duration of the inhale & exhale, deepen it (down into your belly, not big into your shoulders), slow it down. Persist for 3 minutes (yes, it’s hard to do those first 3 minutes).
  • Ask “what could I do right now that might help? Or at least not make things worse” Do that.

Repeat as often as necessary. If what you’re experiencing is an intensity of anxiety & stress that is disproportionate to the situation, and if it seems to be persisting for a longer time than you’ve known before, check these: 

  • Physical/medical – is there some hormonal thing going on? Is my biochemistry out-of-whack? Could I have an insulin/blood sugar regulation problem? Electrolyte imbalance? Is there some odd inflammatory reaction happening? See a doctor to get these checked.
  • Am I getting enough sleep? Adequate quality, sufficient duration, regular.
  • Have I changed what I’m eating & drinking? My meds?
  • Is my workplace or domestic situation causing me harm? Bullying, harassment, excessive work hours, subtle intimidation, constant criticism – toxic environments cause harm, including priming your body for danger. Stress & anxiety is your body’s alarm system for dangerous environments.

When nothing seems to be helping; call a helpline, see a mental health professional, talk to a friend. I hope there’s something helpful here for you. 

- Jennifer Grant

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