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One Saturday morning, I woke to memories of a bad dream I had. Feelings of worry and anxiousness lingered. As the morning continued, I felt worse and worse. I couldn’t sit still. I almost made the decision to get up from where I was sitting to distract myself – either clean the lounge, tidy the bedroom or sort out the laundry. But I didn’t. I felt paralysed.
Plans I had that afternoon were cancelled. I was relieved. I had this strange feeling that something bad might happen if I left the house.
Looking back, there was a cycle that was occurring: I had worrisome thoughts, which set-off anxiousness that fed into fear. Thoughts>anxiousness>fear. My thoughts reinforced my emotions. I’m learning that to shift my emotions, I must be aware of my thoughts. I know, waking up anxious can leave us feeling like the day is doomed, but different approaches can help turn it around!
What was my approach this time? YouTube. Yep. Good old social media. I’ve found that in times of need, watching educational videos or listening to podcasts about what I’m feeling/going through really helps. So I typed into the YouTube search bar something like, “waking up anxious”. I found a channel called The Anxiety Guy (Dennis Simsek) and decided to let the video play in the background while I sat still and breathed. I quietly reminded myself that I was safe and that things would be okay; I’ve gone through this before, I’ll get through it again.
The Anxiety Guy’s 3 Steps:
1. Negativity journal. The first point he made was to write into a negativity journal in the first 2 minutes in the morning. This immediately inspired me to write this post. So I typed out the worry and fear. Releasing how I felt helped. Maybe a journal and pen by your bed would be handy, or a private blog if you’d prefer to type it out. No matter the method, expressing how you feel can be a source of catharsis and relief.
2. Gratitude/stretch. The Anxiety Guy then shared how gratitude can shift our focus. In the past, lists have helped me to arrange my thoughts and gain clarity. I do my best at the end of every night, to list things I’m grateful for. On this particular morning however, I admit, instead of focusing on what I was grateful for, I tried to find reasons for the anxiousness. Shifting your focus from fear to gratitude can be a powerful tool. I will do my best to try this in the future.
As for stretching/yoga, I haven’t done that in a while. When I used to practice yoga, it helped me feel grounded; I would definitely recommend it if you feel inclined. Even walking with a friend around the city/neighbourhood is a form of exercise. So ask a friend to join you!
3. Magic mirror exercise. Now, imagine you are looking at your future self in the mirror, and think of 3 questions to ask. E.g. Instead of asking, “Why me?” flip it and ask, “How did you overcome your fears?”. Switch the negativity into positivity!
“Life is about the questions you ask yourself.”The Anxiety Guy
I often speak about my future self having overcome my current fears/worries. I am hopeful that once I’ve worked through unresolved situations, my fears/worries will fade.
An important thing to note, is that we all have personality traits which predispose us to certain emotions. For instance, I have scored high in neuroticism (which include emotions related to anxiety, worry, anger etc) and I am learning how to manage it. Personality traits tend to remain stable throughout our lives, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t find ways to manage it if it affects us greatly. That has been a key learning point for me: there is always a way to manage life’s struggles and that’s what matters!
So, if you wake up anxious, try and take a few minutes to yourself to firstly write down/type out your fears. Second, remind yourself of the things you’re grateful for – shift your focus from fear to gratitude. Lastly, reframe negative questions into positive ones. Change can be difficult but it is totally possible. I believe in you!
I hope this post has helped you today and given you a few ways to manage anxiousness in the morning.
Remember, you’re not alone. Thank you for being here.
Image by Lena Bell.