It’s important to ground yourself

At times, I can overthink and stress about a situation before it’s happening. I know that often it’s worrying over nothing, but I can’t stop those thoughts creeping in. As I’ve been working on techniques to reduce stress and manage my anxiety better, there’s been a grounding method that I’ve been using to help manage my anxiety.

When it comes to meetings at work, working on my pieces, or big life events and adventures, thereto comes stress at times. It’s unavoidable. You could argue that perhaps a little is good every now and then, it helps you become stronger, gives you a boost to your immune system and aids cognitive function. My anxiety, however, is a side effect of an imbalance, more than what is good for you. It can take physical and mental toll on your body.

I’ve been struggling with stress for a while, now it’s started to have more of an impact on my life. I’ve become fatigued, having flares with my condition and it’s now causing me to be physically sick. So how do I stop a vicious cycle from repeating?

Ideally, I would like to see it as something that can be dealt with in one of two ways. Can I deal with my stress now? Are there steps I could take to help calm myself down? If so, I need to work on it now; but if I cannot deal with it immediately, then I need to put a plan into action to deal with it at a later stage. Until then, I’d try not to worry about it too much. Of course, this is a simple solution and one that sounds easy in theory, perhaps not so well in reality.

I decided, then, that I would try to acknowledge what areas cause the most stress for myself and to find out the main cause. An example would be that I find I can get stressed on a project (both professionally and personally). Then I would look for a way to ease/eliminate that stress. For me, this may be completing said project, however, I usually find talking it through with someone and asking advice helps. I think an outside perspective often sees things I may miss and so I like to consider that when I’m working. It can also silence my doubts because if they can see what I cannot perhaps they can help me rationalise. Better still, if they can see potential in it than my doubts are unfounded.

So I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for support or ask questions that you think might help ease my stress; but I’m stubborn. I’ve always found asking for help hard, I don’t want to look stupid or like I can’t cope. On a couple of occasions recently, I’ve swallowed my pride and talked to someone. I wasn’t judged or laughed at like I feared and I really appreciated the help I got in the end. It made me feel less stressed and also less guilty for bothering someone, as they didn’t seem to mind me talking to them. In fact, I’d say I felt more supportive and more capable of working things out.

I also need to remember that it’s okay to make mistakes. This is a key stress factor for me. I tend to beat myself up if I mess up. Really, what I should do is hold my hands up, apologise and ask for help to fix it. Most people tend to appreciate honesty and everyone has probably been in my shoes before. Again, I know this is easier said than done, but it’s something I am trying to work on.

The idea is that if I acknowledge where I’ve gone wrong and to ask for help. It’s something I’ve struggled with, but now that I’ve started to try to seek support it’s helped. I feel less stressed when I take this approach then when I haven’t.

I think this is down to me blowing situations out of proportion; as I tend to imagine the worst things happening. As of late, I’ve worked on a grounding technique to help me create a more realistic approach to this and stop overthinking.

When I am stressed about a particular situation, I write down what I think will happen and my feelings. Then I write at the end what actually happened and how I feel about it now. I like to think of it as grounding because I am safely expressing my worries, no longer bottling it up; and I think it’s an ideal visual tool to show me that the concerns I have are always bigger than what happens. My imagination covers the worst case scenario, and it’s very rare that that scenario ever plays out (if at all).

This has helped me in more ways than one, I no longer feel apprehensive when I get an invitation or a meeting request; if I did, I could write my feelings out, get it out of my system. In a way, it helps me prepare for it. By taking the time to pause and think about the possibilities and ‘what if’ moments, I stop panicking or overthinking. Instead, I’ve taken time to consider things more rationally. I don’t just immediately conjure up the worst; and if I’m having a bad day with my anxiety, and I do slip up, I try to make more of an effort to talk to someone.

It may sound strange, but I find in tough times, I shrink into myself; then when I feel like I can cope, I blossom again. I am incredibly lucky that I have such wonderful people in my life that notice when this happens. There’s not a day when I don’t realise that and appreciate everything they do. They always tend to notice me struggling, check up on me. I know I can cry to or with them and be held until I feel better or stronger. In my bad days, I know I can count on them to help me get back on my feet if I do make a mistake.

There will always be days when my anxiety wins, but I really feel that this has helped me get a better perspective and regain some control; as well as help me stop feeling pressured or stressed. It’s even helped me take steps to be more honest and open with those I care about, about how I’m doing.

Every win, no matter how small, is still a win.

~ E

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