I scream. You scream. We all scream (or want to) when anxiety hits.
I experienced some serious bouts of anxiety this summer.
It began with an inkling of nervous worry. And then moved to diffuse worry about everything.
It progressively worsened until I was near breaking. Seriously. It got ugly. Just ask my husband. 🙂
It began during Pride month, which if you don’t live in the states, during the month of June we celebrate and learn more about folks in the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, in early June, I went into a state of hyper-vigilance, looking for who might wish harm to members of the LGBTQ+ community.
I’ll admit, I’m sensitive to what happens in this month because I have two gay sons.
And then we got a call from Will, our youngest son. (AKA Ariana Grindr) He witnessed a drive-by shooting where two people were killed across the street from where he and his friends were gathered, white supremacists carrying guns attempted to thwart the pride parade he attended, and a friend of his was robbed and beaten. All of this in one day. Needless to say, he was traumatized by the events that unfolded that day.
This triggered my brain to scream at me, “See, I told you to be on high alert!!!”
This was followed by a near boating accident at our lake house. We hosted a 4th of July party and a boater who was TEXTING nearly hit two of our nieces who were tubing at the back of our boat.
I was triggered again. Unfortunately, I’ve barely been able to enjoy our boat since.
These events plus a few others ignited a fear inside of me like I’ve never experienced before. I couldn’t turn it off. My brain ranted with 101 “What if…” scenarios. And once I went down that “what if” road, it was difficult to turn my thinking around. Full fledged panic arose.
I self-coached until I was blue in the face.
I used my positive psychology strategies. Increased my yoga and meditative practice. And sought the help of my holistic energy practitioner and EFT coach.
Thank goodness, I was able to turn it around.
Sad to say, I learned that I was not alone. Many folks have since told me about how their energy was negatively affected and their worry elevated this summer.
The good news is that having to deal with my anxiety gave me a new perspective for what my clients often feel.
Many, if not most, of my clients tell me they feel anxious.
They feel pressured to perform at the top of their game – whether that’s when taking licensure and board exams, leading a team, starting a business, beginning a new job, learning to teach, writing their dissertation, or creating and achieving big audacious goals.
I get it. As demonstrated, left to my own devices, my anxiety can spin out of control with the best of ’em.
Anxiety Keeps Us Safe
Anxiety is not inherently a problem. In fact, it’s a great emotion for keeping us safe. The purpose of anxiety is to aid us in pre-empting problems.
You and I are here today because our ancestors listened to their anxiety and took action. Like, when their brain told them to stay in the cave or they’d be eaten by saber-toothed tigers, they stayed put.
And then they devised ways to overcome the tigers so that they were safe to leave the cave.
So you see, their anxiety kept them safe and provoked them to take action.
Yet, anxiety can get in the way of our productivity, peace of mind, and for some, every day functioning.
How Does Anxiety Get in Our Way?
Our thinking narrows when anxiety hits. When we’re faced with a saber-toothed tiger, that’s a good thing.
Our narrowed-thinking-brain, when faced with an animal ready to eat us, is thinking about one thing. And one thing only. The fastest means to escape.
While it’s true that some anxiety heightens our awareness, helping us to be at the top of our game, too much anxiety can derail our performance. This is called the Yerkes and Dodson Rule.
High levels of anxiety inhibit the pre-frontal cortex from functioning properly, thwarting our critical thinking ability. You know, that thinking that’s required to perform well, write efficiently, and communicate effectively.
What to Do About It?
Meditating is one strategy for relaxing the mind to improve performance. Becoming grounded and centered during meditation is a balm for the spirit. Being grounded and centered also improves alertness and focus, broadening our minds so that we are capable of thinking critically.
I’ve been introducing my clients to guided imagery meditation ever since I began my NCLEX Success Coaching Program. In fact, many of my clients have said this guided imagery meditation was key to passing their exams. But, it’s a meditation they practice on their own.
A few months ago, I started noticing that some calls with clients were feeling tense. I could feel their anxious energy.
So, I started using a grounding and centering exercise to begin our coaching calls.
And it’s been a beautiful thing.
Since beginning our calls with this grounding and centering meditation, my clients have become calmer and more focused before my eyes.
While I have no hard evidence, I believe my clients’ thinking has also broadened.
I encourage them to use this meditation when they’re anxious, feel scattered or otherwise out of sorts.
Clients are telling me they use the meditation prior to taking their exams, communicating with their teams, or beginning their workday with much success.
I reap just as much reward as my clients when we meditate in this way prior to our calls. It’s a win-win.
This got me thinking. (Scary, I know.:))
What if we approached all situations being grounded and centered and taught those we care for, teach, or work with to do the same?
How cool would that be?
Beginning class? Do a grounded meditation.
Giving an exam? Begin with a grounded meditation.
Starting a meeting? Yep, begin with a grounding meditation.
I so badly want you to try it that I’ve recorded one for you. Click here to take a listen.
If you want to tame your anxiety and become more focused and present, try it.
You can use the one I’ve recorded for you. And then individualize it to make it your own.
I hope you too find yourself with less anxiety and more focus.
I’d love to hear how this has helped you. And if you think it’s hogwash – well, I’d like to hear that as well.
Caring about you,