This morning I woke happy and refreshed.
A short 30 minutes later anxiety flooded over me.
Nothing had changed,
Except how I felt.
Anxiety can come on out of the blue.
Like a sudden storm.
You feel sunny and bright, but …
Suddenly your feelings change.
Like being engulfed by dark gray clouds.
Sometimes panic like thunder and lightning comes.
Sometimes the emotional wind knocks you off your feet.
It can feel crushing and debilitating.
It can derail your day.
Dealing with anxiety is a lot like sailing.
I am a sailor.
I’ve been sailing for 23 years.
I have seen weather go from sun to a big blow in a blink of an eye.
Many times, I have been miles away from a safe harbor.
When sailing in a storm you just can’t go below and climb into bed.
You can’t not deal with it.
The storm is there, and you and your little boat are in it.
If you panic or shutdown you could literally die.
So, I have had to learn to continue even in the worst storms.
Even when my tiller (steering) broke.
Here’s what sailing has taught me about dealing with anxiety:
- Stop. Whatever you are doing stop.
- Slow your breathing. Take slow, deep breaths.
- Ask yourself: “What’s wrong?” Look for what is causing the panic.
- If the answer to what is wrong is a circumstance, ask yourself: “What is my thought about that?”
- Is this thought is serving you? Is it helping or hindering you?
- If the thought is hindering you, choose a thought that will help you feel better.
- Practice thinking that thought over and over.
- If your mind argues with your new thought, thank it for sharing and keep thinking your new thought.
- Practice moving through your day while practicing the above steps.
- Remember anxiety is a feeling. Feelings can’t hurt you and eventually all feelings pass.
- Sometimes anxiety, like a storm will pass quickly, sometimes it will last longer. Remember that is ok, because you can move through it with the above steps.
- Practice, practice, practice these steps so they become automatic.
Like the weather, anxiety comes and goes. You now have the tools to calm this inner storm. You’ve got this!
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P.S. The photo is of me at the helm sailing Odyssey, a 1939, 90′, 88 Ton, 2-Masted Yawl