Anxiety, which I’m finding, is different than worry.
Worry, for me, is when I ruminate about something that isn’t happening in that moment…either something I did that I regret or something that might happen, both of which I have no control over, both of which ruminating doesn’t help at all.
Anxiety, for me, is somewhat new.
I was on my way to a small gathering of people who I care about. On that particular day, I had taken a nap, done some yoga, taken my Calm’s Forte, had a cup of chamomile tea, prayed for energy and peace, and there were no crises imploding our lives (which feels rare).
In other words, I was as prepared as I could be to walk into this setting. And there was nothing circumstantially wrong in my little world.
And yet, in the car, on the way there, I felt sick to my stomach, I wanted to cry, I wanted to turn that car around and go back home, I wanted to crawl into bed and sleep until the next day.
I didn’t want to go to the thing I was supposed to.
For no apparent reason other than my body was telling me there was something to be scared about, when there was not.
I took some deep breaths.
I told my husband what I was feeling. (Even saying, THIS is how I know something isn’t right…because there’s nothing wrong and I feel like this right now.)
I asked Jesus to help me, to calm me, to give me courage (to do something I shouldn’t need courage for).
And then I went and did the thing and it was okay. I was okay.
But I’ve been feeling this feeling more lately. For things that shouldn’t be emotionally challenging for me to do.
Like, before I’m supposed to leave for a speaking engagement (I’ve been speaking for twenty years now, and I love it).
Like, before I walk in to get a haircut (I’ve been getting haircuts all my life and they’re nbd).
Like, before I’m supposed to get together with someone I love (I’ve been getting together with people I love for an eternity and I love the people that I love).
Like, when a text or call comes through on my or my husband’s phone from a few certain people.
On regular life things that aren’t scary, that I’ve done a gazillion times before.
So, here’s what I’m trying now.
I’m acknowledging that I’m feeling off, that I’m feeling that feeling again.
I’m sitting down, somewhere alone if I’m able to.
I’m placing my hand on my heart.
I’m taking deep breaths, but more intentionally: four deep breaths in then six deep breaths out (research indicates that a longer exhalation signals the brain that it’s okay to calm down).
And I’m saying out loud to myself, gently, quietly, you’re safe…you’re safe right now…Jesus is with you…you are okay.
After a minute or two, I get back up. And I muster up the courage, and I push through and go back to my life.
Here’s the thing. I’ve never once – not yet – cancelled something or didn’t do something because of that feeling. I still always do the thing I’m scared of, which I’m grateful for.
But this isn’t okay. Life shouldn’t scare me. I’m a big girl with a big God. Which tells me, something’s not right.
All I know to do right now is ask God to help me figure it out, and for strength and bravery in the meantime.
Lord, help me until You help me. Amen.