Realizing Your Total Capacity (and Making Adjustments)

If you remember my earlier post about adapting to your anxiety, I stressed the importance of recognizing your symptoms and getting to know how your stress or anxiety affects you.  When you start learning how your symptoms work during a panic or anxiety attack,  you can start to gain a knowledge that you can use to your advantage.

Back a few weeks ago, I had been experiencing anxiety every time that I sat behind the drums in church and singing.  This was a new experience for me, and I wasn’t really sure how to deal with it.  As twisted as it may seem, in some ways I’m glad that the anxiety occurred multiple times.  It gave me the opportunity to learn and make adjustments in an effort to ease my anxiety for the same scenario in the future.

I learned a long time ago that my anxiety appears when I’m past my “stress handling” capacity.  And this experience from a few weeks ago was no exception.  By default, the regular stresses of life are always present and expected.  I also experience a little bit of nervousness before church on Sunday mornings.  This is mostly because singing publicly is still somewhat new to me.  However, despite those other things, I was also unknowingly being affected by the decline in the health of Melanie’s grandfather.  Because of this new and unfamiliar stress in my life, the little bit of nervousness that I get on Sunday mornings would be too much.  I was at capacity.

That realization that I was at capacity with my stress levels communicated to me that I needed to find a stress that I could alleviate.  So, after two or three Sundays of anxiety, I made the decision to just play drums without singing for a while.  My thinking being that since the singing is what creates nervousness, removing it may be enough to get me back below capacity.

Although I felt more nervous than normal, it worked.  I had successfully lowered my stress level just enough to avoid anxiety.  Ideally, you want to realize when you’re nearing capacity, not when you’ve reached it in order to avoid anxiety.  However, that won’t always be possible.  The good news (that I learned from this) is that it’s never too late to make adjustments.

One thing that I noticed when I was in the middle of my anxious experience was that even when I would listen to the songs in the car or at home that we were using on Sunday, I would feel slight moments of anxiety.  I couldn’t listen to the songs and enjoy them.  This week, I’ve been listening to the songs that we have planned and I feel back to myself again.  There hasn’t been any anxious feelings toward the music and I feel like I have regained the excitement of playing and singing again that I had.

Learn about your anxiety.  When stress in your life is high, look for something that you can temporarily adjust.  Once your stress level has lowered, you can reverse the adjustment if applicable.

This Sunday, I will reverse one of my adjustments: to sing again at church.  I’m thankful for this particular experience.  It has shown me that worshiping God through singing is just as much of a blessing to me that playing is.

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