I’m not sure why I’m writing this but I’m assuming it’s because I started this blog as an outlet and I really need one right now.
Lately I can’t get my feelings straight. I’m pretty much all over the place. Especially in the evenings I go through various stages of panic and unease. There is no really identifiable reason as to why this is but my guess it has to do with wanting too many things at once. Even though I’ve tried to minimize the amount of goals per day (on paper), my head is a constant reactor to things around me. I put everything I feel, see or hear external by using journals, OneNote and what not. Yet, apparently, a part still remains within me. So what causes this?
Who knows, I can only guess since I’m not a therapist but I do notice that I spent a lot of time on YouTube and wanting to learn more. Even when it’s learning it adds to the anxiety equation. I’m putting so much emphasis on new things that I hardly finish anything existing. What I can’t seem to do is put anything off till ‘tomorrow’ because other things have to get done ‘today’. Where does this come from?
Back when I was younger I had no trouble putting things off. I had few passions and therefor it was easy to focus most of the time. Right now, even when I’m typing this I think about:
- Unread books
- Unwatched YouTube videos
- Documentaries I have to watch on Netflix
- Writing more blogs
- Be more proactive with my study
- Spent more time with family
- Figuring out some new diet
- How will I get more muscular again even though I have ZERO time to focus on training right now
It’s ridiculous. I KNOW I can’t do all of those things in this moment of time but my mind seems to disagree. Practicing to be in the moment helps a little, for instance when I cook I really try to realize that I am cooking. Especially when it’s a family meal, I am busy doing something for those I love. I feed them and nourish them that way. It is important for me not to oversee these moments as relevant. But whenever I am doing something less relevant, I just can’t find that realization that what I’m doing right then and there is worth focusing on alone. So I wander off…
And it’s not the wandering that bugs me, it’s the throat-grabbing feeling of restlessness that I experience at those times that I am wandering. It is in the knowing that I wander that I stress out. It is knowing that when I am stressing out, there is really no valid reason for me to do so.
I am healthy. I am fortunate. I am blessed with an amazing girlfriend and beautiful baby girl. I have food beyond my capability to eat it. Enough space to house another me in the same house as this me.
Anxiety is a real thing. And I’m not saying it’s some undeniable force you can’t beat or get control over. I believe in many ways, you can. But when you are sensitive to anxiety or panic, it is likely that at more difficult times, it rises to the surface. And you simply can’t just ignore it and hope it fades away.
I am very proactive when it comes to my anxiety. But maybe that’s the thing, maybe I am too proactive. Maybe I try too hard or at least too many different things. In the end it only takes gratitude and rest to see your anxiety it not a reasonable reaction to your current situation. So how do I feel gratitude and find rest when getting caught up in my own restlessness?
At this point there are a few things I’m trying out but it really depends on the situation whether they help or some cases even make it worse. For instance:
Therapeutic or Cognitive Journaling
According to many studies, journaling helps to externalize whatever is keeping you occupied inside. It can help to view your feelings and troubles from a different perspective. In doing so you might be able to solve what previously seemed unsolvable, because you are no longer inside the situation but looking upon it. You can compare this to traffic jams. When being stuck in one, it usually annoys us and irritates us to the point it can actually upset us or mess up our day. When flying in a hot air balloon, traffic jams can actually look appealing and ease your mind. There is structure and it just does not look as f*cked up as it would have when being a part of it. So your point of view changes your perspective on it even though, nothing really changed. It’s just that the problem (being the traffic jam) is no longer internal but external. Journaling could give you the same outcome as the hot air balloon in this case. But my experience is that, just like this blog, at times it feels really good and helpful, but then there are other times when you just feel more and more stressed out when putting down thoughts. Not even that, but to have to write down thoughts. And it just goes from bad to worse when you realize the one thing that should calm you down, is making you feel like shit.
So obviously there is meditation. It has proven to be an amazing skill when trying to reach a state of mindfulness. But unlike journaling it really is a skill and not as simple as sitting down and doing nothing. Well, in fact it is that simple and therefor so very very hard to accomplish. No one ever taught us, or at least me, to just sit and do nothing. Or doing something and purely doing that thing. For me meditating, as with journaling, can go two ways. It either calms me down or it enhances my anxiety by tenfold. According to Thich Nhat Hanh it is not cutting ourselves of from our thoughts but rather acknowledging them as if again, looking at the traffic go by. We should not avoid the traffic but observe it as it goes by. It is extremely hard to do this as some thoughts just taunt you and make it impossible to see it and letting it go. And even when it doesn’t happen so literally, my body just starts to itch and turn at times which then becomes a thought of its own. Sure, I am in the moment then, but I fucking hate the moment. So no win. Again, this sometimes happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Depending on how far I am within my anxiety.
Reading always sort of helps but it seems counterproductive. Reading distracts me from the problem(s) I am experiencing so I feel ease coming back to my body. The root of it all however, is not getting dealt with. So I find it difficult to fall back on reading alone since I know it’s not going to solve anything. Plus, reading is entertainment. So is Netflix and so is YouTube. From that perspective I should just use all of those to deal with my moments of agony. Not very different from any other addiction then is it?
I use to deal with many of my demons through making music, but this is rarely the case now since I have become a father while still in the midst of getting my bachelor degree in teaching. And also, music never dealt with the root but rarely the symptoms. Still, it would help to have an outlet.
To go back to where I started. It is within writing this that I am calming down so there are ways of dealing with such panic attacks. It varies from moment to moment depending on how bad the moment is and what my option are. But I also realize now that sometimes, there are too many ways to solve something and therefor nothing gets solved.
Maybe the conclusion to all of this is to discipline yourself into teaching yourself one thing and do this thing very well. Get as good at it as you can. Maybe then, it will support you in every moment of despair because you’ve learned how to use it inside and out.
For me, it is all about excluding things as oppose to including more things at this point. I just can’t do any more thing. And to finish it off with a selfreminder:
I don’t have to.