Anxiety is not new to me. It’s been a player on the stage my whole life. In these days of covid 19, it’s often a lead actor starring in every scene. It’s hard to shut it off, turn down the volume, make the sensations leave my body and make the worrying circular thoughts leave my head.
To combat my anxiety I tried ignoring it. Then I tried exercise, eating loads of sugar and comfort food, binge watching Netflix, paint by numbers, walking , drinking wine, meditating, taking baths…it didn’t really seem to matter. The anxiety just hung in there like the weeds in my garden.
The thing that finally seemed to help was to take on an attitude of slight indifference. That is to say I treat my anxiety like I might treat a house guest that I’m not crazy about but I know I have to tolerate. I’m kind enough, I’m not overly engaged but I don’t ignore it. I ride that fine line of tending to it and self protection.When I am able to distance in this way every once in a while I am surprised to find something in the relationship that nourishes me. Because anxiety, besides being annoying, is also the body’s exquisite offering of the human experience.
When it’s loud in my body I feel very much alive. It can also tip into a place of terror making my heart beat erratically, my diaphragm feel like a hot poker, my throat close up and my mind go ripping into a million horrible scenarios. In these moments my anxiety absolutely forces me to check in on myself.
It offers me a very unique opportunity to ask, ”In this moment am I OK?’’.
Quite surprisingly, most of the time the answer comes back as a resounding yes. I am not dying and my tribe appears to be safe as well so it can’t be that bad. Sometimes that question is answered with a flood of tears that I know I’ve been holding back for too long. Other times I realize that I need to reach out and contact a friend. So my anxiety, horrible as it is, forces me to check in on myself like Oprah Winfrey checking in with one of her guest…Damn girl are you OK?
I share these words because I wonder how you are coping with your anxiety during this pandemic? I hope you are not letting it run the show but just taking it for what it is, an expression of what it means to be alive at this moment. And you might just ask yourself, In this moment am I ok? And really listen to your body’s response. You might find nourishment and a wealth of information. I hope you do.