Saturday, August 10, 2013

A bump in the road

On Friday evening I had a bit of a bump in the road and needed to get a bit of help to be nudge back onto the straight and narrow. So this week I will be focusing on getting my head back into the game.

Anxiety isn’t a pleasant sensation, so it’s only natural to avoid it if you can. One of the ways that people do this is by steering clear of the situations that make them anxious. If you have a fear of heights, you might drive three hours out of your way to avoid crossing a tall bridge. Aside from the inconvenience factor, the problem with avoiding your fears is that you never have the chance to overcome them. In fact, avoiding your fears often makes them stronger.

Exposure therapy, as the name suggests, exposes you to the situations or objects you fear. The idea is that through repeated exposures, you’ll feel an increasing sense of control over the situation and your anxiety will diminish. Anyone who knows me will know I'm a big believer in exposure therapy. 

Friday was the Umbrella Festival at The Groundlings Theatre.  

Due to my wobble  -  its back to basics when it comes to facing the world.

Identifying your negative thoughts
Challenging your negative thoughts.
Replacing negative thoughts with realistic thoughts.
Learning to recognise when you’re anxious and what that feels like in the body
Learning coping skills and relaxation techniques to counteract anxiety and panic
Confronting your fears (either in your imagination or in real life)

I'm back on creating a step-by-step list to cope. I (with my youngest child's help) had prepared the notice board, leaflets, book marks. I'd worked out and practised what to read. My girls had wanted to perform to so I had to make sure they were ready. Then it was the packed lunch etc.On Friday, we were up early, breakfast and tidy up, dog sorted, car packed and then after a couple of relaxation exercises I was ready to go. I'd reminded myself that even though I'm a nervous driver I had been to The Groundlings before. I had contacted Richard to check that everything we needed was sorted and that members could park in the school. I had done everything I could at my end. But we are guests - I did not control the environment. So if things were what we wanted at the other end I was just going to let the complaints flow right over me.

 I usually give a lift to a friend who - bless her - panics in the passenger seat because she has forgotten something and gets very nervous before performances plus needs validation after the event. In the past I have been able to give a bit of support, but at the moment because my own nerves are frazzled I just get really snappy and impatient. Which I hate. Which makes me feel bad. Which triggers anxiety. And I'm back in the pattern. But I can only control my own thoughts. 

My therapist kindly reminded me that the ability to manage sources of stress, both internal and external, is key to reining in and managing anxiety. Whether your anxiety is generalised or defined by specific factors such as panic attacks, phobias, or obsessive-compulsive behaviours, learning to recognise how stress affects you—and what you can do to quickly reduce it—is the first step toward bringing your life into balance. She said I know what to do - reduce the stressful situation.

I'm not falling off the wagon without a fight. Not when I'm looking after two beautiful girls on my own. So although its going to be a difficult conversation from the heart. Unless passengers can control their own anxiety - no lifts from me when I'm performing. 

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