We seem to be living in a chaotic world and as such life has this way of throwing challenges at us that can be difficult to understand and deal with. It begs the question; is the world actually more chaotic or has our world shrunk and through various means, in particular digital media, we have a firsthand glimpse of what is happening around the globe? Perhaps it does not matter.
Aside from news we have a plethora of choices when it comes to what’s on TV. Back in the days of farmer TV we had a choice of two and a half channels. Some of you younger folks are scratching your heads about that one. You see, we had a TV with antennas sticking up, commonly known as rabbit ears, and if we pointed them in just the right direction we could pick up 2 channels. For those that were innovative some tinfoil on those antennas would actually give us a fuzzy version of a third channel. My apologies, I digress.
With hundreds of channels now available combined with Netflix and Cravetv the choices are endless. Crime shows, cooking shows, music channels, 24 hour news, series, and documentaries to name but a few. So you choose a series and you binge watch. You can easily lose yourself in some of these shows. My wife and I have talked about how some shows with high intensity have the ability to increase anxieties. Not sure that is healthy.
Over the last two weeks I have spent significant time with someone that is experiencing debilitating anxiety. Although she has experienced anxiety in the past this last go around is new for her and left her reeling. She does not understand why this is happening. It is concerning and, of course, those concerns just add to her anxiety.
We talked about what anxiety feels like. When I mentioned to her that a client once compared anxiety to a squirrel she was curious. I challenged her to imagine a squirrel. Very active. Quite noisy. Flits from place to place. Never runs in a straight line. Hops from tree to tree. Quite agile. Can be intrusive. Always on the lookout. Never a dull moment. I wonder, do they ever sleep? I asked her how that compared to her thoughts when she experienced anxiety at its worst. She got it. It made sense to her.
We then talked about the workings of anxiety. She told me how a naturopath had told her that an actual wave of anxiety only lasts 90 seconds. The doctor had told her if it lasted longer it was only because she was “throwing gasoline on the fire”. I thought back to when I started having panic attacks, but didn’t know it, and the explanation made sense.
So the challenge becomes to control our thoughts. We need to tame the squirrel. But how? I have some ideas. It is virtually impossible to push anxious thoughts out of your head. What is much easier is trying really hard to think of happy thoughts. So we have to make room in our heads to store some good thoughts that we quickly use when needed. Take the time to write down a few of the things in life that really make you happy. Then refer back to that list regularly till they are ingrained in your brain. That way they are easily accessible. Perhaps this is easier said than done. But with practice it can work. Trust me. I know. It works for me. Make it a good one.
“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” Jodi Picoult