Anxiety – End of the Day for January 18, 2014

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Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination.[2] It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over something unlikely to happen, such as the feeling of imminent death.[3] Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is felt about something realistically intimidating or dangerous and is an appropriate response to a perceived threat;[4] anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing.[5] It is often accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension. Anxiety is not considered to be a normal reaction to a perceived stressor although many feel it occasionally. — Wikipedia

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. I have seen Anxiety and it is me! Big changes today as new windows were installed in the house and my anxiety was on high alert. It just catches up with me sometimes. It is the unreasoning nature of anxiety that further adds to my issues with it, though. Intellectually, I know I am worrying about something that probably will not occur or not be of great consequence if it does occur. Even so, it grips me and causes this very specific feeling in my chest. I can tell very easily when I am anxious, even if I can’t tell what is causing that anxiety. Sometimes I never really figure it out. My unconscious mind has simply decided to be anxious about something and didn’t even bother to tell me what or why.

Anxiety is why I have certain rituals and avoid certain activities — some that threaten to drive my wife and family mad — but I think in recognizing them and understanding them, at least in a small way, I can manage them a bit. First, there is anxiety around large crowds. Perhaps it is because I was raised in such a small town, but being surrounded by a large number of people, even in relatively open, outdoor, spaces can cause a high level of anxiety. Learning to deal with that after moving to Los Angeles, was quite a challenge. Most times I simply tried to ignore it. That worked sometimes, but at others I would end up having to leave an event just to get away from the crush. These days I have to really “want” to experience an event in order to deal with anxiety of going. My most recent example of this was going to Peter and Starcatchers performance in downtown LA. Even then, I had to know exactly where we were going to park, traffic situation and my driving directions. I really didn’t NEED any of this, but knowing the information helps to keep me from worrying about it. Thankfully, I am also very familiar with the Music Center and how it operates so that makes it even easier. If I am headed to an unknown part of town or a new venue, I have to get all my ducks in a row before I can even think about heading out.

Anxiety is one of those things in my life that probably doesn’t reach any sort of clinical level, but it has taken me a long time to figure out how to manage it and also accept it, when necessary. I have learned to turn down situations where the possible reward doesn’t match up with the anxiety I will experience. In these cases, I am very clear to my wife and others that my issues shouldn’t prevent them from going and in fact, because of this, my wife and son have become great concert buddies, attending many rock concerts while engage in my own activities closer to home.

If you live with someone who has issues with anxiety, I think it greatly important that you don’t stop doing those things you want, just because your partner doesn’t find it as enjoyable. Take a friend, take a family member, go alone, otherwise you will come to resent the limitations the anxious person can put on your life.  Being prone to anxiety is plenty difficult on its own. Anxious people don’t need to add a heaping helping of guilt on top of it. That helps no one.

If you feel anxiety is controlling or limiting your life, get professional help. There are many methods of counteracting anxiety that can help you step away from the unreasoning fears and bring a bit more enjoyment into your life. In mild examples, figure out what rituals and actions you can take to suppress your anxiety like I do. Know where you are going. Know how to get there. Know where to park. Know whatever it takes to short circuit the anxiety you feel and focus on the fun parts of the event. It can really help. I know this from my own experience. 

 Previously on End of the Day:

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