Anxiety sucks. Some panic attacks really do feel like heart attacks. The feeling of suddenly being overwhelmed with a tightening of your chest, the inability to take a deep breath, the amount of sweat that suddenly covers the body. Sometimes panic attacks are more subtle. Feeling frozen and not being able to move. Getting ready to go, and your stomach forcing you to the restroom.
Anxiety attacks are never convenient. They happen while standing with a crowd of people. They really like to occur when you're already running late or behind schedule. They definitely like to show up when you should be working.
Over time I began to track my panic attacks to see when they would be most likely to happen. Two situations stood out: whenever I feel trapped (large crowds, small enclosed spaces), and when there are issues at work that are beyond my control. Eventually I began to realize that I had another trigger, news and politics.
Here's the thing, I'm a news junkie.
In high school my favorite channel was CNN. I'm one of those people who can sit and watch CSPAN. 24-hour news was made for people like me. I naturally seek out information and enjoy doing research. Politics, local, national, and global, is very interesting to me. Until it wasn't.
About three years ago I realized I was experiencing high anxiety from the information I was receiving from the news. I began to limit my viewership. It has now been about two years since I've willingly sat and watched the news.
Social media is a different kind of beast. It's hard to remove yourself from social media when a large part of your business interactions occur there. If you've followed me for sometime, you will notice that I tend to interact in spurts. This is something I am trying to get better at, while also maintaining my mental health. I rarely announce my social media sabbaticals. For my personal pages I just stop looking and interacting. For my business pages, if I plan correctly, I will schedule posts.
Like many, COVID-19 has me all out of sorts. When I don't have enough information about something, my imagination quickly gets going, and I have an active imagination. I want information so that I can know what's going on with the progression and prognosis of the virus. However, seeking knowledge leads to me down an infinite number of rabbit holes, and the more I learn the greater the sense of anxiety. Finding the balance has been a struggle the past few days. I have so many questions I want answered, while being wary of the answers at the same time.
So I limit myself. I stayed off social media for about two days. Now, I allot so many minutes a day to looking at stuff related to COVID-19. I asked my partner to tell me only the most pertinent info and to not share the random and rest. I have increased the amount of time I spend on The Hope Pusher, LLC. I binge watch comedies. I call my family. I play with my dogs. I exercise.
We have stepped into the unknown. I'm a knowledge seeker. I don't do well with the unknown. However, I'm doing like I tell my clients. I'm looking at everything on my anxiety list, realizing what I do have control over, and leaving the rest to the rest. This doesn't give me full peace, but I haven't had a panic attack.
Stay safe. Stay Mindful.
(C) 2020 The Hope Pusher, LLC | Dr. TJ Jackson