How you may be maintaining your anxiety instead of squashing it

How you may be maintaining your anxiety instead of squashing it

Hey hey, girlfriend!

You are probably reading this because, like me, you experience a lot of anxiety throughout your weeks or days or moments. Sometimes over big things, sometimes over seemingly small things, but it is always present.

What if I told you that you may be doing something to maintain your anxiety? Not the people around you, not your environment, but YOU may be doing something to keep the monster alive.

The other night as I was walking my dog, I was simultaneously sifting through my mind, highlighting all of the work I had failed to complete that day. Immediately, I became anxious and felt guilty for even walking the dog in the first place. There were so many other things that needed to be done. Rushing to finish the walk, I caught a glimpse of the fireflies that danced across the sky. I thought about a time when catching the little bugs was my biggest concern. Laughter would course throughout the yard as my siblings and I would stay up late to catch them. There was nothing more to be done.

The idea came across my mind that maybe I had more in common with the firefly nowadays than I did with the carefree version of myself that used to catch them. We would put the poor bugs into tiny jars, poking small holes for them to breathe. The fireflies were stuck in an unknown place with a limited supply of oxygen and no idea of how to get out. Doesn’t it just sound all too familiar to what life can do to us?

Feeling anxious and a little trapped.

Having enough for survival, but not enough for comfort.

A whole lot of us can connect to that more easily than we can connect to an overwhelming feeling to run carelessly around the back yard.

Let’s face it, anxiety is unavoidable. No matter how many preventative measures you take there will always be something worth worrying about. Certain things in life call for a healthy amount of anxiety, such as giving a speech or singing in front of a large crowd. It would maybe cause for more concern if you didn’t have a single care in the world.

Imagine crossing the street in the middle of a green light, whistling and walking at an average pace. A little worry would serve you well in this instance.

Although anxiety can be warranted, at times it can also be crippling. Anxiety unfolds with the same variability as the people on this planet, looking different for everyone. Many times, we attempt to avoid anxiety altogether. Because of this, we avoid the things that cause our anxiety such as big social events or a certain project that needs to get done. This sounds super great, outsmarting your own anxiety… BUT by avoiding what causes you anxiety, you are actually feeding it.

The Science—knowing your anxiety

As you well know, the entrapment of anxiety does not develop overnight. It is a long process that is the result of many task demands with little reward in the end. People with anxiety typically know the places, people, or activities that will make them more anxious. If you are coping with social anxiety, you may avoid parties.

Anxiety typically reveals itself through retreat from responding, pursuing, and trying. Many of you can relate to wanting to just give up when there is too much on your plate. The thought process is that avoiding what makes you anxious will also help you avoid your anxiety. It’s a solid assumption, but scientifically unsound.

By avoiding or escaping the situation that causes you anxiety, you are unknowingly maintaining it.

Escaping an undesirable task is something that would reinforce anyone, however, when you successfully escape the task you thought would cause you anxiety, you actually increase your tendency to avoid similar future activities (aka you become a recluse and wish you weren’t). This is when anxiety becomes crippling. Soon, you have denied so many people or activities that you feel kind of like that firefly we talked about earlier. You wish to participate but find yourself on the sidelines more often than you’d like. Your habit of avoiding what makes you anxious has made you feel more alone, more anxious, and less joy.

Avoiding may be momentarily appealing, but it is no permanent fix, just a band-aid to your bigger problem.

Rather than opening and closing the same door, you can confidently walk through it.

This doesn’t mean that you need to say yes to every single thing you’ve worked so hard to avoid. Find that balance between giving yourself the space you need and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. The more you stare your anxiety in the face, the more you will begin to conquer. The further you go into the habit of secluding yourself, the harder it will be to crawl out.

You are not meant to be alone. You are meant to form relationships.

You are not meant for failure. You are meant to pursue a passion.

Next time you want to run and hide from something that makes you anxious, step into confidence and out of fear. You are bigger than your anxiety.

Travel and baseball

Travel and baseball

Travel is a thing that seems to unite people. There is something so appealing about packing a bag and going somewhere unfamiliar.

Growing up, I was always so intrigued by people who weren’t from Kentucky. It was interesting to me that there was so much world out there that I hadn’t yet seen. Like many people, I was curious and a little fearful of the things I didn’t know.

I have always sought out adventure, being somewhat of a “yes man” when it comes to experiences. Because of this, I have gone on many spur-of-the-moment trips that led to irreplaceable memories. Any opportunity to jaunt off to a new spot was one worth taking in my eyes!

In 2017, I met my fiance who, at the time, played baseball for the Cincinnati Reds organization. I was from Kentucky, he was from California. Almost immediately, we began our long distance relationship, meeting in many new cities to see each other. That was my first real taste of travel. Together, we met up in 13 different states just to make this thing work.

Our marriage in December will be the end of our long distance travel and the beginning of our full time travel together. I will continue following him as he pursues his dream of playing professional baseball. I could not be more excited/eager/in love with the chance to travel with this man.

Something worth noting is that when this opportunity first presented itself, it scared the daylight out of me. To be in a relationship with a man who lived across the country, played baseball, and that I had only known for one week seemed nearly impossible to me for so many reasons. If I had said no out of fear, I would have been saying no to the very thing I had been praying for over and over again. It’s important to recognize your blessings, even if they don’t look how you pictured them.

Now that I am here, I am so glad that I didn’t run away in fear!

Has there been a time that you wanted to say no to something but saying yes proved worth it? Comment below!

2019 word: Pursuit

It is the end of March and I am most definitely late to the party. There is this new trend where we choose one word to dedicate the whole year toward. Everyone chose their words in January, and I tried to do the same but I couldn’t get myself to find just one word for one whole year. I mean, so much can happen between January and December. Do I choose a super broad word or a specific word? Is “wine” an acceptable word? These are the questions I ask myself. Here we are at the end of March, and I have finally chosen a word. My word for 2019 is PURSUIT and here’s why:

Pursue: continue or proceed along a path or route.

For many years, I have half-heartedly approached the things that are unfamiliar to me. Naturally, I would dip my toes in the waters of life, but would never fully submerge myself. I would approach life in a “Yeah, but” sort of way. This has caused me to be half in and half out of most of the things I do. That way, if it works, I can easily jump in. If it doesn’t work, I can back out just as quickly. However, maybe things haven’t been as successful as they should have been because I have only always been half invested.

This year, I hope to pursue happiness, fearlessness, and stronger relationships with friends, family, and God. This is hard to do. In order to pursue happiness, we have to make an effort to find it in every situation, even the bad. In order to pursue fearlessness, we have to find confidence in our weakest moments. To pursue our relationships, we have to put ourselves aside more often than not in order to reach those around us. I will admit that this one will probably be hardest for me to do. I love my time alone, it’s how I recharge. I will not be flawless in my pursuit. I do not expect to be unwavering or perfect, but I do believe that I will be more fulfilled just by trying.

Although “pursuit” is my main word, “tacos” might be my second word because I know 100% that the more tacos I eat, the better this year will be but I’m just gonna let that one go.

What is your 2019 word? Comment below!