I have come to realize that I have a bad habit of fearing EVERYTHING. I fear about debt, the icy roads, getting kidnapped or burglarized if I'm alone in the house or walking to my car, my boyfriend cheating on me. I literally pick at all his words to catch him in something . . . but he's never done anything to make me turn like this! I'm driving myself crazy, and don't want to lose my friends, relationship or mind. Some days I'm fine, but other days . . . WOW.
Are there things I can do to change? I can't afford counseling or I would definitely be on it, but I have read of tricks as far as snapping myself with a rubber band every time my mind starts going, or writing in a journal. I hate being so occupied by my thoughts and fears and just want to be normal again. I think watching the news, scary movies, and listening to people talk about how their spouse cheated on them has me SO paranoid. Does anyone else feel the same, and how do they handle it?
Good for you for recognizing this as a "bad habit" for this is truly what it sounds like it has become. And just like changing any habit, changing this one will require some effort. You are not alone. Below are a variety of things to try:
Identify what you have control over and what you do not have control over. Put your time, effort and mental energy into things you actually have control over. Do you have control over your boyfriend cheating on you? No. Do you have control over being a caring, supportive, and loving partner? Yes. Do you have control over whether the roads icy? No. Do you have control over if, how and where you drive? Yes.
Worrying does not keep us safe. Read that 10 times. Seriously, the act of worrying does not keep us safe. There are no guarantees to your safety, but we can engage in behaviors that increase or decrease our chances of staying safe. . . but still, no guarantee. Get to know your behaviors. Do they move you toward or away from your goals? Is your anxiety causing more problems than it solves? Develop a plan of actionable items that will help you make safer choices. (Check out UT's awesome chart for problem solving vs. problem causing anxiety
Is this a real or perceived emergency? Anxiety is just a warning bell, we would never want it to go away entirely because it helps us survive. But when the bell is ALWAYS going off, it loses its purpose and direction. It no longer helps us know when we are in real trouble.
Turn off the TV. At least turn off the nightly news and any programming that evokes anything other than laughter and joy. We are visual creatures and while intellectually our brain discerns between reality and television, this is harder for our nervous system. Read the news. Read books for pleasure. Watch funny movies. Spend time with friends.
Decrease your overall nervous system arousal. Get quality, restful sleep. Eat nourishing food. Spend time with people you care about. Exercise. Meditate. Do yoga. Pray. Figure out what helps you feel calm and centered and do more of that.
Get familiar with other feelings. Anxiety can be a smokescreen for a whole bunch of other emotions.
Get help. If you are a UAA student taking 6 or more credits, you are eligible for an evaluation through the Student Health and Counseling Center. We can help you understand what may be going on and help you develop a plan for recovering. Sometimes medications can assist with certain conditions. I would also recommend you have a physical and tell your health provider that you have been experiencing anxiety. If you are not SHCC eligible, there is affordable counseling in Anchorage. Psychological Service Center is on the UAA campus, but they work with people in the community in addition to students. they can be reached at 907-786-795.
If neither of those are options for you please call SHCC and ask to speak with a mental health provider and we would be happy to discuss your other options in Anchorage.
The Mindfulness and Acceptance Workbook for Anxiety and The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook
You are not alone! hopefully after watching the videos and reading the books you will realize you are absolutely not alone. With major life changes and experiences, we can all experience times of increased anxiety. Some people experience anxiety disorders. If your constant fear does not improve soon, please talk to someone about it. You are not alone and you do not have to go through this alone.