It’s been a long not-quite-two years for me. After weaning our fourth child, my hormones took a dive and it has been a long, long uphill battle with panic attacks and ridiculous anxiety. My nights just weren’t the same.
I’ve since made my way to a routine that works well for me and my hormones are recovering. I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time, and the most persistent issue of anxiety is slowly waning.
Today I wanted to share one of the tricks I’ve found to be particularly helpful when I’m fighting anxiety and why I believe it is so effective for me.
For me, anxiety usually hits at night when I’m trying to fall asleep. If I am not careful, it can creep into full on panic attack. I’ve figured out a bunch of physical triggers for my panic attacks and know how to watch for those so I don’t trigger one.
But the mental ones are the ones that always catch me off guard. It can literally be one sentence a few hours before bed that will start one. The most recent one was on my husband’s birthday.
We were driving home and I asked him if he had a great birthday. He said yes and I said good…but my brain finished the sentence with “now I can die happy.”
It came out of nowhere and stuck with me all evening. By the time I went to bed, I was in full pre-panic attack mode. It was a rough night.
So what helps?
Now before you write me off with an “I already pray about this all the time,” please hear me out. I get it. I know what you mean. I have been there.
When I changed what I was praying about, I saw a difference. It was a simple switch. I simply went from praying about what was going on and asking God to change/stop it, to praying about the specific worry or concern that I had in a way that was bigger than myself.
An example: One of my biggest fears is losing my husband or one of my children. It is a big trigger for me. Before, I would pray and thank God for my husband and children when I feared losing them.
This was not a bad thing at all, but it was not particularly helpful. The last time this happened, it was triggered by hearing of the death of the 15-year-old daughter of someone I didn’t even know.
Now, when I find myself anxious about someone dying (or anything), I pray for those who are currently walking through it. I do this for any anxious thought that tries to come at me. If I don’t know anyone by name who is walking through whatever is making me anxious, I pray for those that I don’t know, knowing that God knows.
The reason this works for me is that what I’m dealing with isn’t reality. It is fear of something that MIGHT happen. It really isn’t logical. And I know this, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult to deal with in my head.
By turning my attention from me, I take the power of the fear away. I usually get lost in praying for those who ARE going through the loss of a loved one, a sick child, or <insert fear here> and my fears are replaced with compassion.
So, that’s it. My little trick is basically to stop thinking of myself. It works for me and, if you are dealing with anxiety, I hope you can find some comfort in it, too.