Something great happened for me last night and I’m really excited to share it with you.
I was having a bout of nighttime anxiety. My thoughts were racing, my heart was pounding a little faster than normal, and I couldn’t figure out what exactly I was worried about yet I was undeniably worried. (Geez, even WRITING about anxiety makes me anxious. Regardless, I must press on, for the sake of humankind!)
Over the past year, since learning some helpful and healthy ways to to cope with my anxiety, I have often referred to my various lists around my house to try and utilize one of the items. Go for a walk, shower, deep breathing – the old standbys that you can find on any anxiety blog post that has ever been written in the history of ever.
Sometimes, these techniques help. But honestly sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the anxiety seems to have too much control over me and I just can’t rein it in. Then it’s almost like the anxiety makes itself worse because I become anxious about not being able to not be anxious. COME ON!
Well yesterday, I tried a few techniques and they helped perhaps more than they ever have before. I went from what I would call (for my anxiety range) a 9-level anxiety to not only no anxiety, but a state of enjoyment.
You guys, are you hearing me?! ENJOYMENT.
I wish I could pinpoint exactly why this time was different. Is it the repetition and how many times I’ve tried the anxiety-reducing techniques in the past? Did they finally just click like muscle memory? Was this a random occurrence? Will it happen again? How can I ensure that it does?
I’m hoping it’s possible to reduce anxiety like I did yesterday again and again. If it’s something that can be improved upon, then man do I want to improve upon it. In an attempt to do just that, I’m gonna write out exactly what I did last night and I’ll try a similar combination in the future to see if it still works. I’ll keep you posted!
Here’s what I tried:
Deep breathing in a warm bath. I didn’t count the seconds to my breath which I know some people say is very effective, but it honestly bores me and reduces my chance of focus. I did, however, make sure the breaths themselves were full and deep. I even put my hand on my belly, which apparently aids in mind-body connection.
I watched a brief youtube video of a Berkeley professor speaking on the vagus nerve and its instrumental role in mind-body awareness. I think this helped me because it intellectualized something that was frustrating me, which feels like progress. I love to know people are solving problems!
I put on a face mask. It was one of those charcoal ones that dries on your face and makes you feel like you just had a face lift. Fun! While it was drying, I stretched. It was nice to know that I was combatting my anxiety with self-care as opposed to self-destruction.
I laid on my back for 5 minutes and deep breathed. That’s it. I was doing nothing but lying down and breathing. Super simple.
I think some key differences in this routine versus past attempts is that I DID NOT distract myself. I didn’t turn on a tv show, meet a friend for a drink, run 3 miles as fast as I could, or anything else that feels remotely like avoidance. I tackled the thing head on.
Also, I didn’t try and be productive, which is usually my go-to with anxiety. I assume that because I’m feeling an urgency I need to DO something. I need to be efficient, harness the bubbling energy into SOMETHING. I challenged this instinct and it paid off in a big way.
Do you experience night-time anxiety? How have you been handling it recently? Have your efforts been effective? What tools work best for you?
Looking forward to your thoughts,