In an ideal life, I am always centered (as in, sitting on a peaceful mountain top all day centered). This is the state of mind I strive to be in but, alas, daily life and my personality come into play once in a while…
We may not be perfectly at peace all of the time but I do find it helpful to know what makes us vulnerable to anxiety. The more aware we are of what I call our anxiety “triggers”, the more effectively we can recognize the anxious state for what it is (a momentary passing state flirting with us) and get on with the business of enjoying our lives (and sleeping restfully at night).
We all have our “triggers” that make us vulnerable to anxiety. I will share with you a few of mine and perhaps you may relate to these (or if you have different ones, please feel free to comment and share)…
Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop. ~ Usman B. Asif
Five things that make me antsy with anxiety:
1. When I feel physically run down
2. When I am experiencing some kind of pain in my body
3. When I have too much unstructured time
4. When too many choices are presented to me
5. When I feel like I should be productive but instead I am distracted rather than focused.
There are more but I will stop with these. If anxiety is flirting with me in any of these five ways,
I often find it helpful to:
1. take a walk outside
2. get busy doing something
3. remind myself that this too shall pass
4. help somebody else
5. enjoy a great movie with my family
Goodbye, anxiety….with any luck this was a mild passing flirtation and nothing more…
Worry is a misuse of imagination. ~ Dan Zadra
I have recently experienced panic,
and deep sorrow.
and then beaten down.
The human condition puts us through the ringer so to speak. We definitely have our peaks and valleys. When I am despairing and dying of thirst in the midst of death valley, I find it helpful to remember that:
1. This too shall pass.
2. Change is part of life.
3. I am strong.
4. My emotions are simply emotions. I don’t have to attach any more meaning to them than I would passing clouds in the sky above me.
As I write this, there is a storm brewing in North Florida. Thunder booms and the rain is coming down.
The thunder outside, like our anger with its temper and tantrums… will subside and go away in due time.
The rain, like our tears that flow and flood our anguished faces at times, will stop.
The sun will come out again. We will be centered and feel peace again.
And so it is.
Anxiety and insomnia come when we are afraid. We are afraid when we stop trusting.
When we stop trusting, we start losing sleep at night.
Examples of this are when we stop trusting:
1. our abilities on the job
2. our spouses
3. our kids
4. our country’s leadership
5. our media
Now, a healthy dose of skepticism is prudent, but when we stop having faith in the hull of our life, the rivets start coming out and things fall apart…
The result? Anxiety. Insomnia. A lack of confidence in ourselves, others, and life in general.
Here at The Warm Milk Journal we envision a wholeness: well balanced healthy people living the life of their dreams by day and sleeping restfully and peacefully by night.
Alas, to counteract all of this anxiety and lack of trust, we need to start trusting again. We need to regain and get solid with our faith,
with our power …
To do this we need to get straight and simply KNOW a few things…
Repeat and affirm…
1. I Am love
2. I Am loved
3. I Am safe
4. I am right where I need to be right now
5. Life works with me
6. I am doing my best and that is good enough
7. Other people are doing their best. I pray and bless them. We are all in this together…
8. All things pass…
9. A pendulum is at work all the time (if something is not to my liking, the pendulum will swing the other way in due time)
10. I am a gift and have so much to offer others.
To me faith means not worrying. ~ John Dewey
Worrying is a major cause of losing sleep at night. One of the main reasons why this site is called The Warm Milk Journal is that I highly recommend writing in your journal when you are feeling worried and anxious.
2. Writing is taking action and you will feel like you are doing something rather than hopelessly worrying.
3. Writing allows you to get some perspective. Your troubles may not seem so bad once you get them on paper.
4. Once on paper, you can give yourself permission to release them.
5. Writing enables you to turn a negative thought and recreate it into something more positive and constructive.
6. You can write your worst case scenario down, visualize it happening, and then picture yourself getting on with your life. From that lowest of low points there will be no place to go but up!
7. You may write to God and ask for guidance.
8. You may get creative and write some poetry which can be quite soothing to a tired and anxious mind.
9. Ask questions in your journal. Asking the right questions may give you insights and ideas you may never have previously thought of. If you turn out your light shortly after writing the question(s) down, your sub-conscious mind will go to work on it as you sleep.
10. Write down affirmations that center you. I really like: “I Am safe”, “I Am loved”, or simply “Peace”.
11. A little drawing and doodling can be quite relaxing. I enjoy drawing organic and geometrical shapes and then shading or coloring them in.
Any of these eleven journal writing strategies will get you back to sleep soon!
Confidently riding through many storms…
I know that strong winds, rough seas, and emotional turmoil
I would like to send love and prayers to anyone in the path of Sandy,
to anyone who is losing their home,
to people looking for work,
to people who perhaps, feel a bit lost.
Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark. ~Rabindranath Tagore
You are not alone.
What have you been avoiding lately? A drawer full of unpaid bills? Filing your taxes? Asking the boss for that much deserved raise? Making that medical appointment?
When we practice avoidance we are inviting anxiety into our lives. How?
1. The things we are putting off doing don’t magically go away (and we know this).
2. It creates and prolongs any worry about these things
3. It gives our minds plenty of time to blow things up and out of proportion.
4. Avoidance makes us feel weak and not very good about ourselves.
5. During that “witching hour” we spoke about in our prior post, it is these things that we are avoiding that get churned about over and over again when all we desperately want to do is not think at all and sleep!
Taking action is a confidence booster and sleep producer.
Pulling our heads out of the sand and dealing with our issues and challenges will give us many benefits including:
1. We will feel greatly empowered. Even little steps will make us feel so much better about ourselves and the situation (call the Student loan company, pull those bills that have been piling up in the drawer, initiate that conversation with your spouse, etc.)
2. Once we start taking steps towards resolution rather than avoidance, so much free time and energy is freed up to live our lives, be in the present rather than worrying.
3. The magnitude of what we perceived as our problems will be much deflated once we start dealing with them.
4. We will get some perspective and realize things aren’t as bad as we thought.
5. Peace of mind will return (along with a good night sleep).
There is something about those wee early morning hours.. if we are not sleeping, it is a time when we are most vulnerable to repetitive anxious thoughts and not sleeping (as a result).
I believe we are not truly awake but we are only semi-conscious at this time. Somehow if our minds get to thinking about things (unpaid bills, issues at work, an argument you had with your spouse, something someone said to you at a party weeks ago…) it can get all blown out of proportion during this “witching hour”.
I’m amazed when I succumb to this form of anxiety at this hour just how bad it seems at the time. It feels so real. I’ll get to thinking about all of my responsibilities at work or focus in on something about my marriage or health that is downright fatalistic.
It is important for us to realize that this kind of thinking is not real. It is not really us, not really our lives… it is our mind doing its witching hour monkey tricks on us. That’s really all it is. Remember: it is not real! Don’t get up out of bed and threaten divorce with your spouse or draft a letter of resignation (or worse, an email) to your boss… do not take any action!
All that you need to do is realize that none of this is real. If you can, create some distance from it. BREATHE. Be an observer of your own thoughts
( a great skill that can be developed it you practice meditation on a regular basis). Laugh at it if you can.
In time, you will go back to sleep. You will wake up, have your coffee, start your day…once you are fully awake and have your center back life will feel all normal again. Trust me, it will!
Here’s to making light of that witching hour and not letingt our anxious minds have any power over us.
Here is a list of common thought patterns that lead to anxiety and sleepless nights:
1. “I am not good enough”
2. “I don’t have enough”
3. “What are they thinking about me”?
4. “I look fat”
5. “I am a failure”
6. “I am broke”
7. “I am a paycheck away from being bankrupt and living on the street”.
8. “That’s impossible!”
9. “I can’t”
10. “I’m no good at___”
These are just a few “bad tapes” that many of us torture ourselves with on a regular basis, over and over again.
Sometime between the time we were born to the person we are now we have learned and been conditioned to fear and be anxious and feel bad about ourselves(either by parents, siblings,teachers, friends, and other people our environment,media, our culture,etc).
Well, the good news is that we can work on cancelling all this bad thinking.
Tonight in your journal please write down a list of your negative thought patterns that you play on a regular basis. You know you have them. Now write them down. Or if you can’t think of any right now, have a notebook handy and when you catch yourself doing it, you can jot it down. Enlist a spouse or close friend to help. They can “bust you” if they hear you utter any negative self talk.
Once you write a fearful or anxious thought down, draw a big X across the phrase. That step alone would be really great. I also like to imagine myself cutting my own throat when I am thinking or saying one of these toxic messages to myself while yelling: CANCEL!!!!!
Now, you can actually re-write your own thought patterns to the reverse (the positive tape instead)
1. “I can’t” can be cancelled and X’d and then “I can!” can take it’s place.
2. “I am fat” can be cancelled and X’d (really imagine yourself slashing your throat here!) can instead be “I love and appreciate my healthy and beautiful body”.
3. When you see something that you think you can’t afford such as a nice car on the highway, a beautiful home in a nice neighborhood, or a pretty Spring dress on the clothes rack, cancel “I can’t afford this”, and replace it with: “I can afford that!”.
You get the idea. It takes a little time. Be patient with yourself. Perhaps tackle one negative thought pattern at a time.
Before long you will be confident, worry-free, and sleeping like that innocent perfect baby you began your life as!