Reducing anxiety, my way

I’ve always had issues with anxiety, but it seems to me that I don’t have much reason to be stressed out these days — not rational reasons, at least.

I have reasons to be anxious and reasons not to be, but rationally, it’s internal — it’s the way I’m wired. There are ways to get around it. Pill-pushers (as some annoyed psychologists refer to psychiatrists) can prescribe all the generic Xanax you want, but I haven’t run my life with pills, and don’t intend to start now.

Cognitive psychology, while slow, works wonders. When you find yourself on the train of anxiety provoking thoughts, distract yourself. Learn to detect and then deflect it. Freudians may think that’s bad because you’re shoving it down to the subconscious, but most anxiety, I think, is stuff that we have already vocalized at some point. (If not, find someone to talk with, then do the cognitive bit.)

Lists are wonderful. One of my personal fears is forgetting to do things. The more I list, the less I have to remember, the less anxiety I get. Things go away for a while. The only thing is, it requires discipline — some time spent each day crossing things off. Software lists don’t work for me; I need paper and pen. It’s more tactile, and it’s more likely I will look at it.

dave with another Valiant

Calendars are wonderful, now that we have iPhones (or Android/Windows copies thereof), computers, tablets, etc. Set the reminder at an appropriate time, and you don’t have to worry so much about missing things or forgetting things.

Learning how to deal with the big earth-shattering political and social issues of the day is harder. There are things you can do and things you can’t do. Nobody can change everything.

Trying to limit exposure to the evils of the world helps. I don’t shove my head into the sand, but I don’t need the hardships of the world pounded into me every day. I don’t watch the TV news, much of which is misleading anyway — a jumble of celebrity gossip, crime reports, and the election “horse race” where the polls are seemingly more important than what candidates will do if elected, or what they did in the past (what they say is of course much more important on the news than what they do or did).  I try not to get sucked into exposés as much, except as needed to run my life. If Nestlé is being truly evil, I should know that so I can avoid their stuff. I know there’s slavery in other parts of the world; what can I do about it?  I’ve chosen my charities; I can’t give to everyone, and I can’t fix everything. There’s some prayer, quite nice, about having the courage to fix what I can, and the ability to not drive myself crazy over the things I can’t.

Likewise, I am trying to end my Facebook addiction, as I’m sure many of you are, and reduce my exposure to people who post insane things on-line, or even things that make me angry which I agree with on-line.

I also have tried to set a limit on how much I can be ripped off without fighting or caring. Letting it go, so to speak. If someone wants to be a jerk, sometimes I just have to let it ride, ignore it, maybe hope they’re having a bad day or are in such a tearing hurry they have to swerve around me and into the lane I’ve signaled my intent to get into.

Our time on this Earth is limited, and taking offense cuts into the quality and quantity of time we have left. Cutting anxiety is not easy, but it’s important. I hope you don’t mind my sharing my multiple-front approach, and that maybe it even helped you. Some people are born with an even keel and a relaxed attitude — and I really appreciate that. It’s laudable and desirable, and you should feel lucky (or proud) indeed.