Have you ever found yourself anxious prior to an event to which you have been looking forward? Do excitement and anticipation blend into anxiety for you? Or vice versa? Can you shape anxiety into a more positive anticipation and even excitement?
I find myself approaching a vacation that I have been planning and looking forward to for months. We are doing the trip as I would prefer…without bicycles. We are going to the cities I have wanted to visit and engaging in many of the activities I choose.
That is not to say that the inclinations of those with whom I am traveling have been ignored. They would prefer not to be in museums all the time, and not to be scheduled every moment of every day. There are so many things that I want to do and see that I could happily go from one to the next to the next if I were on my own (and if my feet held out). Since I am with others, I have scheduled us for things that require it and generated possibilities for the rest of the time.
This has caused lots of anxiety for me. I am a people-pleaser in my core makeup. I work to assert my needs and desires, but I also want those around me to be happy. Needless to say, this causes anxiety, ambivalence, frustration. The planning process has been a stressful one.
I am always fascinated by the internal experience of a set of emotions. Like many people, I have been very anxious since I was a child. Research on DSM diagnostic categories indicates that Anxiety is easily the most common of emotional difficulties experienced by the U.S. population. I fit right in there.
As a child and teenager, I just pushed through the anxiety in order to accomplish the goals I had set for myself. As a young woman, I learned that I could reinterpret my anxiety, choosing to see the physical agitation, increased heart rate, sleeplessness and other physiological signs of arousal as excitement, thereby giving it a positive meaning rather than the negative connotations of anxiety.
As an older adult, I find it harder to manage the experience of anxiety. My yoga practice helps me feel better at the time, but I have not been successful at carrying the relaxation and positive mental state over into the rest of my day. The agitation causes stress in my relationships. I have a harder time not snapping at those closest to me. Sleep disturbance makes that even worse.
I certainly need to get this in check or I risk messing up my enjoyment of my vacation!
How do you deal with anxiety? Is medication your route? Or meditation? Go for a run? Do you have methods that I might learn…quick? Please share your comments below.