What do you do when things bother you? What’s your mechanism for dealing with a stressful situation? How do you overcome anxiety?
Questions with no specific answers however I’ve learnt a few techniques recently that I know work for me. It wasn’t something I thought I needed to do until I accepted that I was trying to not try and accept that I needed to accept that I was not accepting my issues. See why it’s stressful!
Anyhow, I’m generally finding it much easier to flatten out the peaks and troughs of anxiety by changing a few personal perceptions and giving myself a bit of time. The main thing that many people who have the same “stuff” to deal with find the most rewarding thing is running. Walking is just as beneficial, but running produces more of the natural happy drug. There are for me other reasons too; I’ve wanted to get back into running for a while so when we decided to do a Bear Run it made motivational sense; I’ve got over my dodgy knee so no excuses there; need to do a cardio exercise now I’m so old; Nicola has been running for a while so we would be able to run together (probably).
Mostly I can exercise, listen to my shitty choice of music, think about things in a rhythmic way and feel energised by the whole experience. It’s 30ish minutes now every other day and I enjoy 85% of it (because the getting going bit is still a little hard sometimes) but the BBC couch to 5k app has been the best format to get me up there. I now feel confident enough to use the Nike Run Club to record my efforts which means I’m probably nearly a proper runner.
I also try and keep a perspective of who and what I am and where I fit into the scheme of this time frame I’m a part of. Sounds a bit Dr Who doesn’t it, but my perception of life is such that what really matters and what needs my attention have to be maintained in some sort of perspective. Things I can do nothing about or change because they have already happened are not worth spending time and energy on. That doesn’t mean they don’t effect me, it means they have less effect when I change my perspective of them and make them small, out of focus and colourless. Their place in my mind becomes less important and so I can order the relevance of what is important and focus on that.
For example: there is a situation I cannot change that is driven by one person. I have an image of that person in my mind, I take away all the colour, make them small and out of focus and then send them into the distance. I do this several times until they no longer bother me, and I repeat this process for a few days whenever they come to mind. It works because my mind’s image of that person is now so insignificant they bother me less.
Likewise for everything that is of importance to me, I have strong powerful images of bright focused positivity that make me smile when I recall them. I started this particular process by writing a list of things I love - people, things and things I/we love to do. I then magnify that imagery and enrich its meaning.
By creating a mental distinction of relevance I have helped my mind remove the blurred overlaps that made everything seem the same and ultimately all stressful and full of anxiety. This has all been facilitated by reading those three books* and taking up running.
Finally, I have had such positive open feedback from people who have read my previous blog that I am starting a ‘Black Dog club’, using the phrase Churchill coined to describe his own bouts of depression. The club will be open on the first Monday of the month at The Wight Bear (therefore Monday January 7th) for anyone who has to deal with stress, depression or anxiety to come and have a beer and share their experiences with others. There’s clearly plenty of us out there suffering in silence and it would be good to gauge whether it’s beneficial, so please come along make your feelings known.
It’s not about you, it’s not about me, it’s about us.
*Reasons to stay alive - Matt haig
Fingers in the sparkle jar - chris packham
Change your life in 7 days - Paul McKenna