I was going through a rough patch with my health, when a friend offered me a new perspective via three wise words "sometimes it rains". It was years ago, but I remember strongly how comforted I felt. Just to acknowledge that sometimes things aren't how you want them to be, but also that they tend not to last forever, helps you understand that things come and go - nothing is permanent.
I think her advice works well for anxiety too.
Just because you feel crippled with anxiety for one hour, or one day, doesn't mean you will be every hour, or every day.
And, to share another thing I learned from years of living with chronic illness: a rough day following a good day, doesn't make you:
- a wimp
- or lazy
It simply means you're living with challenge and change - like the weather.
With anxiety it's helpful to make hay while the sun shines. If you're feeling OK right now, then really feel OK right now. Allow yourself the relief of relaxing and laughing. And if you should have a blip in the future, know that it is just a blip. It's so painful trying to live like things are either good or bad. Black or white. Cured or not.
I had some amazing times connecting with family and friends when I was sick and I had days when I couldn't sit up in a car, let alone drive it. I had days of cuddles and laughs with my daughter and days when I couldn't take a shower because my arms hurt too much. That's a confusing thing to live with. And it's confusing for those around you too, hence you get helpful comments like: "but you were OK last week."
If there's one thing I learned from this it's to really appreciate when you feel OK. Be grateful for your physical and mental comfort. Be sure to take some deep breaths and enjoy nature, and let your family and friends know you love them. It makes it so much easier for you, and for them, if the weather gets rough again.
What Helps in Adverse Weather Conditions
- surround yourself with sunny people
If people need help understanding what you're going through, tell them. Give them the chance to understand and support you. But if they don't get it, then maybe a little distance is a good idea until you're feeling more buoyant. Like my old friend who helpfully suggested I "join a gym and loose some weight" when I couldn't walk upstairs. In so many other ways he's great, but he's a very active person and his mind just couldn't reach into my experience. So distance, love from afar, because comments like that just don't help.
- carry an umbrella
On rainy days it's good to be equipped. I still have to manage my health and I take what I need with me wherever I go "in case it rains". If you have some tools that help you cope with anxiety (link), keep them with you. Carry Rescue Remedy, essential oils, supportive listening on your mobile phone or iPod. Whatever you know helps you - keep it with you. And if you don't know yet what helps, please keep reading Anxiety Slayer and keep experimenting with the tips we have to share.
- seek shelter
Don't stand out in the rain, find a place where you feel safe. Know that this will pass and the sun will come out again.
- look after yourself
When you go out in the cold, you wrap up warm. When you have anxiety you need to take care of yourself too: seek gentle comforts like warm baths, and nourishing foods and don't be ashamed to enjoy them fully just because you sometimes feel bad.
Above all else - be gentle with yourself. Don't get angry or frustrated, that only adds to your already heightened stress levels. Anxiety is not a thing you can pick up and shake, it's an internal weather system that you have to learn to work with - and you can - and we are here to help.
Photo by FotoRita [Allstar maniac]
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