I never used to consider myself an anxious person. That said, I have noticed that my feelings of anxiety have increased over the years. Sometimes to the point where I’ve had what I believe to be panic attacks.
I think part of my anxiety is due to constantly moving from one location to another. Since my divorce in 2008, I’ve moved a total of 11 times. Six of these moves involved traveling at least 1,500 miles to our new “home.”
I think that has increased my anxiety because living in a new location means losing your sense of certainty and stability. It also means relearning even the simplest of tasks, such as where you’re going to go to get your groceries, where the post office is if you need to send a package, or where you should go if you want to handle other everyday tasks like dry cleaning, getting your car washed, or even the best places for eating out.
Moving to new locations also means new people. Since most of our moves have been to areas where we haven’t known anyone, you have to get used to your new neighbors and gain a feel for the community. While I sometimes find this interesting and fun, it still has a tendency to make me a bit anxious.
I also believe that simply growing older has caused my anxiety to grow. I’m only 45, but the older I get, the more those around me are slowly dying (like my mother-in-law who we sadly lost almost 2 years ago and other family and friends who I’ve known forever and passed away all too soon).
Each time I hear of someone dying, it highlights my own mortality, bringing on anxiety about what lies ahead for me. Yes, I do try to be relatively healthy, but I also know that when it’s my time, it’s my time.
At one point, my anxiety got so bad that my doctor wanted me to start taking pills. I would’ve loved to have something that made me feel better instantly but I declined because 1) I don’t believe in taking pills to fix something I can take care of in non-drug ways, and 2) once you start taking these kinds of meds, I think it’s hard to get off them. So, ultimately I said no.
Instead, I decided that it was time to actively work on lowering my anxiety. And the thing I’ve found most helpful with this is anchoring.
What is Anchoring?
Anchoring involves taking a look in your past to remind yourself that you’ve survived similar situations before. Hell, sometimes you’ve not only survived them, but actually came out further ahead!
Think about it like how you anchor a boat in a storm. Though the waters may be rough around you, there’s some peace in knowing that you won’t drift too far off course. There is something holding you in place, so once the storm moves on, you know that you’ll be okay.
How do you anchor? Let me walk you through how I do it when I’m feeling anxious.
How I Anchor Myself When I’m Feeling Anxious
I hate to admit it, but I have a fear of eating a food that I’m allergic to.
Now, let me preface this by saying that I’ve never had an anaphylactic reaction to anything. I’ve also undergone allergy testing in the past, which found no food allergies. Yet, for some reason, I fear that someday I’m going to bite into something that will close my airway and keep me from being able to breathe.
I have no idea why I’ve developed this fear, but I have it. So, there are many times when eating out or trying new dishes almost sends me into a panic attack.
It is during these times that I anchor myself to past times when I have tried new dishes or ate something I don’t ordinarily eat and nothing bad happened. I remind myself that I didn’t get a tingling in my mouth, I didn’t find it hard to breathe, and I didn’t almost die. Literally, I’ve never had a negative response. So, I keep reminding myself of this until my anxiety starts to subside.
I’ve also used anchoring in other areas too, such as when I’m actively building my writing business. When I get nervous about reaching out to potential clients, for instance, I think back to times I’ve done the same in the past and it turned out okay. Sometimes it has turned out better than okay and I’ve been able to land some amazing contracts!
Putting Anchoring to Use For You
If you’re ready to put anchoring to use in your own life, think about some of the things that tend to cause you anxiety. Next, come up with at least one time in your past when you had anxiety about that particular thing, yet you pushed past it anyway and things worked out anyway
If you have no prior event or situation that was similar, anchor back to a time when you felt weak but were able to summons your inner strength and push through. Maybe you were in an unhappy marriage and, though scared, you took the steps necessary to get out and now you’re happy as can be. Or perhaps you had anxiety about changing careers, but still found a way to do it and are in a job you love.
The point is to pick times in your past when you faced adversity and still prevailed.
Do this and it could help reduce your feelings of anxiety. I know it works for me and my hope is that it works for you too.