Adapting to Anxiety

When experiencing periods of heightened stress or anxiety, it is so easy to want to remove yourself from the situation.  However, it’s really important to try your best to ride out the storm whenever you can.

If you recall from an earlier post, I wrote about my experience with anxiety at church about 4 weeks ago.  Well, two weeks after that, our worship team was due to once again provide the music for the Sunday service.  It was a difficult morning for me mentally and emotionally.  I was feeling the exact same symptoms and anxiety as I had been feeling the previous time.  This time around, there were a few things that I did differently.  First, I talked to someone before the service about the anxiety that I had been feeling.  It seemed to help a little, at least enough to walk up behind the drums and start playing.  I found that the entire time I was playing, I was riding the waves of anxiety that would come and go.  I typically felt okay while playing, and it would creep back up in between songs, but it was hard…very hard.  Then, I started to feel the same weakness and dizziness that I experienced the previous time.  Oh no.  The second thing I did differently?  I somehow managed the courage to keep myself from getting up and leaving.  I didn’t want to give in like I did the first time.

Apart from taking the time to express my anxiety, which is always important, I think that the courage also came from recognizing the similar symptoms and feelings from the last experience when it happened.  That first Sunday I experienced weakness with anxiety, it passed within a minute, and I was fine.  I had made a mental note that I wasn’t hyperventilating when I started to feel weak.  So basically, my feeling of weakness was just that…a feeling.  It was because I knew and remembered those things, that I forced myself through the storm.

Today, our worship team played for the church service.  I was quite nervous at times throughout the service, but it was manageable and wouldn’t even call it anxiety.  Allowing myself to see my anxiety through to the end, in turn, lowered my sub-conscious fear of experiencing that same anxiety in the same situation.

Getting to know your anxiety and it’s symptoms is a crucial part of decreasing your anxiety’s power over you.  It’s like the old saying goes:

“Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.”

You need people close in your life that you can turn to for advice and encouragement.  As scary as it may sound, you also need to keep your anxiety close so you can learn how it works and then adapt to it.  You will start to learn when to force yourself through the storm and also when its better to listen to your body.

Get to know your anxiety.

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