What helps me cope…
For those of you who don’t know, I have struggled with anxiety since my real deal panic attack during Zayne’s second brain surgery. The first 6 months after the “show-stopping” event at the hospital were rough. Some days I would be triggered in a crowd of people, the smell of alcohol or even just the sun going down. After dark it seemed my “monsters” would show up. Worries would just climb out of the wrinkles in my brain like bed bugs coming out from the mattress for a midnight snack. I am extremely grateful not to be in the thick of anymore, there were moments I thought I would never be the same. I say this with sincerity. I had considered myself to be a pretty easy going, fun loving, love life girl, and I had lost that, or so I thought. Earlier this week I shared some of my battle, but tonight I thought I would begin to share some of the coping skills I have been using.
Most importantly I have the best family ever! My husband is definitely my superman, and my mom and my sister are always by my side, and my Dad always has such a simple and optimistic way of looking at life that I am grateful for. My kids were extremely supportive, even though they might not have understood everything.
Along with my amazing family I have worked my own butt off. With the help of my Life Coach (Dean Nixon)I have worked hard to come through, well, what I call “torture”.
As I find myself enjoying life more and more I thought I would share a valuable piece that has helped me. I have others as well, but so this blog isn’t 8 pages long, so I just thought I would start with Focus.
Focus is one of the 8 coping skills (The 8 Coping Skills is actually a series I do with my clients, apparently sometimes I do it right along with them, lol). Here is a link the The Key, which is the book I use with the series.
Focus in the Moment: Focusing to Stay in the present moment can sometimes be a challenge. Especially for a first born, control freak like me. Don’t get me wrong, planning and organization is good, but planning for every possible “what-if” under the sun was not. I began to focus more on feeling the very moment I was experiencing. If I was at a game, then soak up the game. Notice the smell of the baseball field or be aware of the squeaky gym shoes of those little feet taking basketball so seriously. l would pay attention to my kids enjoyment, smiles, determination, and the intensity on their faces when running as fast as they could! I would focus on truly be there. I began to focus on the moments we had dinner together. Allowing my heart to connect with each of my kids sitting at the table and feel their laughter or excitement or even just enjoy the lull in the day with them.
And I can’t leave out the moments I would have during the summer in the yard just feeling the sun on my face and smelling the summer air. Ahhhh. There is nothing like it. As I was working through my anxiety issues it was important that I be intentional about being present, otherwise my imagination would run me to the future, which brings me to the second step of foucs…
Focus My Imagination: My imagination had gotten quite skilled at painting the worse possible scenarios in my mind, some of which you have heard. I had to intentionally focus on exercising my imagination to use its creative muscle for “good.” I began to imagine my kids enjoying their work/school, playing in the yard or hanging with friends. I imagined them laughing or even persevering with strength, taking on challenges and learning every step of the way and being proud of all they had learned. I would imagine my hubby and I soaking up life together, both enjoying our family and our independent accomplishment. I had to do this several times a day to strengthen a different muscle of my imagination. For me it was getting back in touch with some of that part of my imagination I had as a kid. I actually was the type of person that carried that childlike imagination with me through adulthood, these past couple years I just got a little off track and my focus has been helping me get back in touch with that “magical” side of me, that I truly think adds a little sparkle to life.
For some of you who read this will not quite understand why such a simple tool may seem so worthy of a blog and that is ok. A few years ago, I actually had a hard time relating to those who struggled with anxiety. Ahhhh, that time was bliss, lol. But really, I just couldn’t understand how someone’s “thoughts/fears” basically, could have such power over their life. As much as I am not very fond of my own personal experience it has helped me relate to others I know and actually helped me to be more effective with my clients. So for that I am grateful for what I have learned.
If you do struggle with anxiety, first don’t feel bad for it, that just makes it worse (trust me I know), but give Focus a try. If that doesn’t seem to help, I do have 7 more coping skills in my pocket that I intend on putting out in other blogs. Or feel free to set up an appointment with me and let’s get you the much needed relief you may need. We can customize the series to apply the 8 coping skills to your own life personally.