Day 223, Quote…s…were overrated this week: Stress and Anxiety Coping Mechanisms This Week

My emotions this week were more varied than normal and for good reason – that’s what I need to remind myself.

I had four anxiety attacks, two ended up in tears and three ended up in 30 minute naps followed by a trip to the gym for my planned workout, one ended up with just a trip to the gym because I didn’t have time for the nap.

I’ve scheduled an alarm to go off at 4 pm every day for the next two weeks so I can sit down and journal whether I think I need to or not. I’m trying to get better about journaling when things are going well, not just when shit hits the fan because I also don’t want to associate it with something negative.

I’ve journaled four out of five days this week.

I’ve meditated before bed each night too.

My appetite hasn’t been impacted, but that’s not always the case. As I’ve shared before, times of high stress that trigger many anxiety attacks and episodes with my PTSD have also led to binge eating and blackouts – thankfully, I have a much better handle on my anxiety now and have for the past six months. If I’ve eaten something, it’s been mindless snacking, but not mindless binging or looking for emotional gratification in the food.

This week I’ve successfully used napping, journaling, meditating and the gym to cope through stress.

The stressors are different than they have been in the past, which means that the reactions are different.

In both cases of tears – I didn’t expect them to happen, it just happened. Sometimes I can tell when it’s going to happen and I can mentally prepare myself, but there was no preparation for this.

In all cases where napping took place, it was well needed and helped me get on with the day. I then tried to get into bed at a decent hour so I could get enough sleep to feel ready for the next day.

While this week I didn’t turn to food for comfort, I know what it’s like to do that or have the urge to do that. I know what it’s like for all the coping mechanisms to not work.

I go through a pretty analytical process to determine what I need to “fix” how I’m feeling and some of the questions I ask myself are questions I then ask clients when we’re breaking down their emotions and reactions.

Even when I’m alone, I’ve gotten in the habit of talking to myself out loud. I’m sure that sounds crazy, but sometimes talking about it in an open space helps me think more clearly through the steps to solve the problem.

When I’m talking out loud I’ll ask myself a series of questions like what is going on right now that I can control? What is going on that I can’t control? 

If I can at least start here, then I can be more start to figure out what will help me cope going forward.

I’ve said things like I’m really stressed right now. I want to cry. I’m hungry. I’m frustrated. I’ll try to determine what is specifically causing those specific reactions.

If I say that I’m stressed or frustrated, I try to figure out what I need to do to get the energy out. I used to always choose the gym, but more often than not, I’ve found that it’s not the best first choice. While it’s helpful, if I’m too worked up I won’t be in great headspace and I won’t be able to put my all into my workout, which causes me more frustration. Instead, I’ll check the time to determine if laying down is a good answer. Napping isn’t for everyone, but sometimes laying down doesn’t mean napping, sometimes it means laying down and looking at the ceiling and just have a moment of stillness. Sometimes it’s for meditating.

If I say I’m hungry, my next question to myself out loud is what do you want to eat – if I can’t answer this clearly then I say, you’re not really hungry let’s try another answer. 

Going to the gym used to be the cure all, but sometimes when my headspace isn’t there, it’s not the right choice.

There have also been times that I’ve cycled through different coping strategies including watching a movie, coloring, taking a shower as well as the ones above and found nothing to work. Sometimes letting things run their course is the answer.

Now, I’m not always alone when I’m talking out loud – sometimes JP is here and sometimes he’ll have this conversation with me. Sometimes he’ll help me figure out the answers. Sometimes it’s helpful and sometimes I tell him I need to figure it out on my own.

I know not everyone has someone who gets it, but I would argue that JP doesn’t really get it, but I’ve tried to communicate enough with him about how I need to work through things and he’s tried to listen.

Since I know we all cope and problem solve differently, I reached out to those in the RSER Accountability Group about what their coping mechanisms are and here’s a list that we came up with.

  • Text a friend
  • Go for a walk
  • Do a puzzle
  • Read a book
  • Listen a podcast
  • Take my son to the park
  • Mediate
  • Write
  • Read
  • Run
  • Workout
  • Nap if I can
  • When your mind is clear and your stress is low, it may be helpful to think about potential strategies and coping mechanisms for when you need them.
  • As I said before, what works changes over time and as the stressors change, but ultimately our reactions to the stress is what is important about becoming a healthier version of ourselves.
  • I know it’s easier said than done to say to not let it consume you (whether it’s stress, anxiety, depression, etc.), but know that many people out there are hiding and dealing with their own battles too. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18.1% of adult Americans are affected and of that population just over a third get some form of treatment.
  • An invisible battle is hard to share, but I’m not ashamed and I hope it helps someone else. I am not alone, you are not alone.
  • ❤ Cristina
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