Five on Friday // For Those with an Anxious Heart or Mind

It's been an incredibly long week. It was our first week back in the school since June and the only full week we were given to get into our classrooms. Monday was spent putting all the furniture down and rearranging the room until I was mostly satisfied. Monday was also the day for introductions. We have a new principal this year; it could be a good thing. But mostly I'm just sad because I really liked our old principal...
Tuesday was spent rearranging the furniture because my OCD brain didn't like the original placement and I still had one table that didn't have a home.
Wednesday was for decorating and putting up bulletin boards. I spent a good part of Wednesday laminating and cutting lamination and hanging my focus wall. I'm not 100% satisfied but it's going to have to work.
Yesterday was spent visiting the office 62 times because our secretary/superwoman was in school for the first day of the week. I adore her and obviously needed some stress relief by this point.
Today is Friday. I've been up since 3:30 because my anxious little brain won't let me sleep. Every time I think I'm at a pausing point, I think of 86 things that still need to get done. And yes I know, my doctor told me to stop stressing over the things I can't change. My mother has told me. My father has told me. My secretary has told me. Etc, etc, etc. it doesn't make a difference.

If you know someone with an anxious mind, do me a favor. Stop telling them to stop worrying. It doesn't help. In fact, it makes it worse. We know that worrying and stress is bad for us. Thanks for the update. When you tell us to stop worrying, what we hear is "stop telling us that you are stressed. Stop complaining about everything." I know that's not what you mean, but that's what I hear. And it doesn't help. It makes it worse. Because now not only am I stressed, I feel like I can't talk to you about it. And not being able to talk myself out of a anxiety attack is terrible. So for those of you who listen to me vent for 45 minutes even though you had a tough day too, I really appreciate it, More than you'll ever know.

So my Five on Friday this week is for all those anxious hearts and minds. Five tips for dealing with your anxiety, without receiving all the negative input from the peanut gallery.

1 // Learn some breathing techniques. It may sound cliche, but sometimes cliches work. Within the last year, I have read numerous articles about breathing techniques, I downloaded apps to my phone that supposedly help, and I've even watched YouTube videos on the subject. Did all of those help? Maybe. But I learned was most important is to find what works for you. Deep breathing is incredibly therapeutic if you figure out what feels right to you.

2 // Figure out your "comfort things." We always hear people talk about comfort food or comfort places. But sometimes we have comfort things; the things that we need when everything is going wrong. These can be anything; it all depends on the person. For me, it depends on what the stress and anxiety are caused by. Sometimes I need a mug of hot tea, a good book, and a snuggling blanket. Sometimes I need my bed and a good movie. Sometimes I need my journal and 4 colored pens, or one black one. Sometimes it's a hot bath and quiet music. Sometimes I need to just sleep it off. The key is to find your comfort things and to utilize them. Stop listening to what everyone else says is normal and do what feels right to you.

3 // Music. Music can be one of the powerful tools in an anxious person's toolbox. Find your happy music and play it all the time. I cannot go anywhere without knowing that I have access to music. Now I'm not trying to contradict myself here, but also learn the value of silence. Sometimes the world is so loud and full of chaos that we use music to escape. Sometimes we need to also escape the music. So go outside, listen to the sounds of nature around you. Close your eyes, or leave them open - it doesn't make a difference. Just find some sounds that work best for you and use them.

4 // Focus on something else. Now that is easier said than done. I know this because I'm still working on it. My current strategy for this is to call my one friend and have him talk about ANYTHING. When I call him, he can hear the panic in my voice so I stopped lying about it. But now he knows that it means I wanna hear what he ate for breakfast, who he's seen that day, etc. I need to hear anything, so that I can focus on that instead of myself and the impeding anxiety attack. ((Anxious people, help me out with this one. What are your distracting tips?))

5 // Find a therapist, or at least a friend who is truly willing to listen to you after (or during) a rough day. Understand that other people have busy lives and they have their own stressors. Sometimes you just need someone to listen, not to comment. That's ideal for those busy people. But if you are anything like me, you need someone to communicate with you, not only listen. I have two friends who are my go-to for EVERYTHING. One I can call anytime and I know he will answer or call me right back. And he will always, always, always listen. And offer some sound advice. The other has been my best friend for years. She knows my ins and outs, sometimes better than I know them myself. She's my sound board for ideas and my listener of more venting sessions than I can begin to count. Find yourself those friends; the ones who will truly listen and not blow you off after a bad day. Or find yourself a therapist; if you need help going about this, let me know!

Always remember that people really do care about you. They just may not know how to deal with an anxious person. Or they may simply not know that you are an anxious person (congrats for managing it so well if that's the case). Always give people the benefit of the doubt. And remember be patient. It takes time to figure it all out yourself and it takes other people even longer to figure you out.

Now I'm off to the land of lamination, bulletin boards, picture books, and organization. If you need me, I'll be practicing my deep breaths.


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