When Anxiety Becomes Overwhelming


The other day I stumbled upon a post I wrote several years ago. The post is titled How I Deal with Anxiety, and I tried to remember what I was experiencing at the time.

Whatever it was, it feels like a lifetime ago. But the advice, originally offered as a pep talk to myself and then shared with readers, still feels fairly relevant.

Over the past few months in particular I’ve been dealing with a lot of recurring anxiety. At times it feels acute (intense and sudden) and other times it feels chronic (enduring and ever-present).

In this stage I don’t think I could write another post with the same title as the previous article, because my current experience with it has been somewhat overwhelming. The strategies I know are only partially effective. I’m actively working on this and hope to gain new skills and understanding, but it also feels like a long road ahead.

Nevertheless, there’s one small thing I’ve been doing that usually brings a few moments of calm. At the end of my workday, which usually arrives around 6pm but is sometimes later, I sit in the middle of the floor and jot down a few simple notes in my journal.

I listen to some wind-down music and I try to find a place of peace.

I ask myself, “Did today matter?” and answer the question however I want. I find that I intuitively know the answer to the question, and if I feel disappointed in the answer, I try to make changes to increase my odds of a positive answer the next day.

Then I ask myself, “How do I feel right now?” and I answer it honestly. I don’t pretend that things are okay when clearly they aren’t. But I also try to take joy in small victories or progress however it comes.

The other thing I’m trying to embrace, which isn’t nearly as easy, is identifying and working through the root causes of the problem, instead of just treating the symptoms. But that’s a post for another day, and it will probably be a long one. For now, this daily moment of reflection does usually bring about a moment of peace.


Image: Joshua Earle

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