Monday, April 15, 2013

Don't You Worry

I have irregular but chronic bouts of anxiety and I'm feeling it right now. After today's tragic events in Boston, I feel plagued by worries. I've been watching too much TV. I'm worried about the people hurt, the families of those killed, and the children in our world and their exposure to violence. I feel sad about our current state of affairs -- that people can't participate in something as wholesome as a marathon without fear of terrorism. I feel sad that in our post-9/11 world, today's news is no longer shocking. Random acts of violence are the new normal. And not just here - what about the daily bombings in Iraq and other parts of the world?  What is wrong with people?! :( My mind starts to spiral.

Flavio is a huge support when I'm nervous and upset. He'll give me a hug or draw me a bath and bring me wine. Or just listen. Every night we ask each other what we're grateful for which helps calm my anxious mind. He's the best husband, friend and therapist in the world. But he got home late and is busily packing to go out of town for work. It's too late to call friends, so I'm falling back on another other ease-inducing trick...

Wine, a bath and dinner did me some good. After that I grabbed a notepad and made a list of all the things worrying me. This is a trick my dad taught me: Write everything down before bed; it may make sense later. I wrote lots of worries tonight. Some are related to today's news, but most are my own selfish neuroses. I realize my personal worries are inconsequential compared to real tragedy but they are nagging me nonetheless. The goal is not to be concerned with how trivial the worries are - the goal is to get them all out. Sometimes I stress about things that are out of my control (What if someone bombs San Diego? What if I get re-assigned to teach at the Navy base?). Some of the anxiety is trivial (I have to go to the store before work for coffee. Do I drink too much coffee? Does coffee cause cancer?). Other worries are totally insane (I can't hear Guiri breathing...Can dogs get SIDS? I'm pretty sure our power strip is a fire hazard...) You name it, I've worried about it. When I write things down, I can see my fears - they're no longer floating around loosely in my head, and I can understand them better. The act of writing puts things in perspective and reminds me:

:: What-ifs are not reality. What-ifs are taking joy from the present. Most what-ifs will never happen.

:: Many of these worries are insignificant compared to larger things in my world, like the health of my loved ones, my relationships and my overall wellbeing.

:: Most of the worries I have right now are momentary and small in comparison to the grand course of my rich, long life. These things will not matter in a year, a month, or even a week from now. 

If you're a worrier, it may help to get things out on paper. Seeing my fears written makes a difference in my perspective and calms my rattled nerves. Writing this post helped, too. :)

Sending peace, love and healing energy to all. Let's all do one random act of kindness tomorrow.

PS. This reminder made me feel better today.

{Illustration by Gemma Correll}

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