Thursday, June 25, 2009

Even More About Morning Anxiety: Its All About Your Attitude

Morning anxiety fascinates me. It also haunts me and I hate it with a passion, but its a curious thing. How is it that the moment you open your eyes you can go from peaceful sleep to out of control fear and panic?!? And how is it that sometimes its in my life on a daily basis and other times its nowhere to be seen for long periods of time?

I've done a lot of research on this topic not only because I struggle with it often, but its also the number one search that brings people to this site, so I know that a lot of you are struggling with it too.

Usually when the morning anxiety sets in, it takes me about a week or so to really remove it from my morning routine. Every time it comes one of two things happen. I either fear the morning anxiety and feel guilty and ashamed when it shows up, or I expect it to be there and tell myself its not a big deal and I can handle it. There are lots of little tips I have spoken of before but I have learned over time that for me, the best medicine for my morning anxiety is my attitude towards how I approach it each morning.

When I feel guilty and embarrassed about my morning anxiety, and when I give into the fear thinking that its too much to bare, a funny thing happens. My anxiety gets even worse and I am usually sick all day long until right before bedtime when I can finally eat something and relax. This can continue for a few days where I hardly eat anything because I feel so sick.

It gets so bad that I am forced to change my attitude. I tell myself the night before that I don't need to get upset if I wake up with anxiety. In fact I tell myself I should expect it to be there and stop worrying about if it comes again. I say, when I wake up and the anxiety hits, this is what I am going to do. I am going to tell myself that its ok that I feel this way, its not a big deal, and I can handle it. I CAN handle it! I can do whatever I need to throughout the day with the anxiety.

Then I will get out of bed and do something to distract my mind. Just start my day. Lately if my little girl is still sleeping I will get out my iPhone and play this app that I am addicted to called Scramble. Really, I am pretty addicted to it, and the sad thing is I am not even that good! But its an easy distraction. I have observed that when I can stay positive and treat my anxiety this way instead of as such a horrible thing to dread, it is much less severe throughout the day and eventually after a couple days of thinking positively about it, I will wake up anxiety free.

The positive affirmations stuck around my house really help to reinforce the positive thinking. I have one on my light on my nightstand so its the first thing I see when I wake up. I have one in my closet so when I get dressed I see and read it. You get the idea.

Sure there are some days as I have chronicled where I don't want to work at being positive. Its too draining and I just want to vent because I am annoyed that I even have to deal with this in the first place. But I find that I have more strength and have more positive days than the days I just want to vent and have a pity party for myself.

I hope you find this useful for your own morning anxiety because it really is an awful thing that if you let it, can effect your whole day. But waking up with anxiety doesn't have to set the tone for your day. You can accept it instead of fearing it and in doing so, you are controlling it and not letting it control you.

Did you find this article helpful?

yes, it answered my questions.

no I didn't find what I was looking for. free polls
If answering no, please list a comment as to what information you are looking for so I can help! Thanks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Hate Anxiety and Worrying about Work Performance

The Buildup and the Inevitable Fall:

Today started out as a pretty ok day. I woke up with some slight anxiety thinking about everyting I wanted to do. But usually I can shrug my morning anxiety off by getting out of bed and getting on with my day. When it didn't go away today I decided I needed to do some yoga, one of the things on my checklist anyway. I did yoga and a little gardening before the thunderstorms came rolling in, checking another thing off the list. Both of these things are very therapeutic for me and I usually feel great after doing them. Not today. While I was doing the yoga I could tell that I wasn't letting go mentally and I felt like it was forced. My baby woke up and so while feeding her a bottle I noticed everything I had already accomplished and thought about how all that I had left was getting my work hours in. Stomache churns. After setting her down to play, I could feel the intensity of my anxiety grow. The burning in the neck and arms, the sweating, heart beating faster, etc. And you would think I would have learned my lesson by now but no. Instead of accepting my anxiety, telling myself positive thoughts to help me through it, knowing that it will eventually pass; I fought it thinking perfectionist and critical thoughts like "I have to stop feeling this way!" "Why do I do this to myself?" "I am a mess!" "I will never have a normal life" "I am going to ruin my kids life!" etc. which of course only aggravates the situation and makes it worse. So I wrote out all my thoughts that I thought brought on the attack, worked on some positive affirmations but still I just can't shake it today. I am trying to work and I can't focus on anything. I just feel yucky. I took a little clonozepam finally to see if that will help, but so far, nothing.

Potentially Unproductive Venting Session: Read at Your Own Risk!!

I just want to vent about how much I hate anxiety. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I wish that my mind would filter thoughts normally and not run on overdrive all the time. Sure its an opportunity for emotional and spiritual growth and I remind myself that I am still a good person even with the anxiety in my life, but I am tired of it today and just don't want to deal with the struggle. I know there is nothing going on that I should be soooo drastically worried about, so why, why, why!!! Argh, I guess I am just frustrated. Thanks for listening.

Let's Break it Down:
After thrashing it all out on paper I have come to the conclusion that I need to reevaluate the whole work situation. Right now there isn't much that I can change about it although I desperately wish I could ultimately quit and just be a stay at home mom. But since thats not an option at the moment and more of a goal, I have to work with where I am at now. 30 hours a week plus watching an almost walking 11 month old is HARD. Its overwhelming at times which spurs some anxiety. However I also can't reduce the hours because we will need the insurance benefits in a few weeks. We've thought about Day Care but I know my first responsibility is to be a Mother and I just feel better knowing that I am the one raising my child, (even if internally I worry that my anxiety is going to screw her up). So ultimately I have to change my negative thoughts about my work because it is the driving force behind my anxiety lately, specifically today.

I worry soooo much that if I don't constantly prove myself worthy to hold my position to my boss, showing him that I am working hard at home, that he will assume I am not doing anything and fire me.

When I rationalize the situation, there is no merit to worrying so much about it.
  1. My boss has already stuck up for me and my position to the company CEO who was questioning the validity of the position and if what I was doing was "effective."
  2. He has also listed me as doing everything that I have been asked of and more on reports of employee performance.
  3. Since I work with schools all over the country, many of them are out for the summer and so my work load is lightening. Its getting harder to find productive things to do and that is making me worry more about my performance because I feel I need stellar reports every week or else! However everyone in the departments work load is decreasing so my boss is expecting that. If I am really concerned I can ask him for more projects.
  4. Plus if the worst case scenario happened and I get fired I ultimately think it would be a blessing. Sure it would be stressful and we would have to figure some things out and get rid of some luxuries, but then I could stay at home with my Little and not have to work all day long. It could take a lot of other stress away.
So you see brain? There is no reason to constantly worry about getting your hours in. There is no need to put yourself in a full fledge panic attack for no good reason at all, when everything is just peachy!

I still need to learn to live in the PRESENT not the past or future. And presently, everything is fine.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mindfulness Training Busts Stress

One of the top headlines on today is "Mindfulness training busts stress". I thought it was a good read, just something that validates what I already know. Here it is below:

By Val Willingham
CNN Medical Producer

"Just the facts" has always been Lillian Waugh's motto. A historian and former professor of women's studies at West Virginia University, Waugh is a stickler for facts and details. And because she was always the "go to" person at WVU, she was constantly in demand -- and busy.

Lillian Waugh says playing the cello is a mindfulness technique she practices.

Lillian Waugh says playing the cello is a mindfulness technique she practices.

"I was a multitasker at work," she said.

Waugh's job was so stressful it started to affect her health. So when the university began a study on how to handle stress at work, she jumped at the chance to participate.

The study included 103 participants. Half were given written instructions on how to handle stress at work; the others, including Waugh, were taught techniques to cultivate mindfulness, such as yoga poses, breathing methods, stretches and meditation -- all designed to help workers cope with too many e-mails, ringing phones and the occasional nasty co-worker.

Lead investigator Kimberly Williams said the goal was to relieve stress. "Mindfulness means to pay full attention to what you are doing, moment by moment," she said. "We taught them how to recognize sources of stress, how stress impacts them, and then what they could do to come out of the vicious cycle of stress reactivity."

The program lasted eight weeks and participants were followed for an additional three months. Williams said they found those who received the mindfulness training "had significantly less daily hassles, psychological distress and significantly fewer medical symptoms" -- like lower blood pressure and fewer aches and pains -- than those who were handed a pamphlet.

Waugh says she was thrilled to find that after practicing mindfulness techniques, the back pain that had plagued her for almost a decade went away. She also said she "communicated better with fellow employees and actually had a better attitude towards my job."

"The one thing I came away with was the ability to put myself in a place where I could gain perspective on everything I was doing at the moment," she said. Video Dr. Gupta: Watch more on the benefits of mindfulness training »

Mindfulness is not new. It goes back to the time of Buddha, who believed that the mind should always be fully in the present -- not looking back at the past or anticipating the future. Being mindful of the here-and-now, Buddha said, reduces stress and brings inner peace.

Today, mindfulness training involves learning to become aware of mind, body and emotions. Yoga, tai chi, and meditation all teach mindfulness.

Williams said the popularity of mindfulness techniques is a positive development, because when done correctly, the methods have been shown to "actually lift stress from your body."

Numerous studies have shown that stress can take its toll on the human body. "[Stress] increases your heart rate, your blood pressure and your respiration; you go into a state of hyper-arousal," said Williams. "And over the long-term, we internalize the response, which can lead to neck pain, back pain, digestive disorders, sleeplessness. ... And many people deal with those problems by overeating, drinking or smoking."

The mindfulness exercises in the WVU study included "deep tasting," where participants spent time eating a raisin: They looked at it, smelled it, and took small bites to savor the taste. "It brings an awareness to the body that normally is always being rushed," said Williams, who emphasized the need to slow down.

"If you give all of your attention to something, you get deeply touched by that experience," she said. "We all know what it's like to eat our favorite food: We slow down, we savor it, we take our time. And that is what makes it so enjoyable."

Study participants were also taught to breathe by taking deep breaths through the nose, feeling the air fill their lungs and exhaling fully. Williams said that with a couple of those breaths, not only does "your blood pressure go down, and you stay calm," but you can better handle annoying colleagues or situations. "You often can bring out the best in people if you stay calm and loving."

Along with the breathing techniques, participants were also taught how to meditate -- even at their desks. They were told to find a comfortable time, free of distractions, and quiet their mind.

According to the study, even 10 minutes of meditation can help. "[Meditation] can take the anxiety out of a stressful workday," said Williams.

West Virginia University is not the first -- or only -- institution in the country that has tested the effects of mindfulness techniques on stress. UCLA completed a study a few years ago that found the same thing the WVU study found: Mindfulness exercises are excellent stress-busters.

Other researchers are looking at ways to mitigate the dangerous side effects of stress by using mindfulness exercises. Yale University is recruiting patients for a smoking cessation study that includes a mindfulness training component. The six-week program will focus on learning mindfulness techniques to deal with stressors and triggers that cause people to light up.

For Waugh, mindfulness training was a life-saver. Although she is no longer a full-time professor, she still practices mindfulness and attends yoga classes every week. She also has gone back to playing the cello, another mindfulness exercise that soothes her soul. She said these methods have helped her stay healthy and improve her outlook on life -- and those are "just the facts."

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...