Let me ask you a question. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, do you have a good support system in place for those bad days when the anxiety becomes too much, or you start to slide into depression? A handful of people who are there for you, that you can use as a soundboard and whose shoulders you can lean on can be invaluable in times of high anxiety?
We’ve talked in the past about the fact that we can get in a spiral of anxiety that it’s hard to get out of. We are anxious and worried, which in turn makes us more anxious and worried about being anxious and worried. You get the idea. If you rely solely on yourself in those situations, it can be hard to get out of your own head long enough to look at the situation objectively and realize that things aren’t nearly as bad or frightening as they seem. This is where that support system will come in handy.
Think about the people in your life that you are close to. Who gets you? Who understands the anxiety you suffer from? Who is a good at pulling you out when you’re having a bad day by offering a hug, drags you out for coffee, or uses humor to make you forget what you’re anxious about, even for just a few minutes?
While you may not feel like socializing when you’re having a rough day or week, or if the idea of spending time with people in itself may make you a little anxious (particularly if you’re an introvert), social contact and connections are important. We are at our core social creatures. That’s why it’s important to set up that support system and reach out to it in times of need.
Of course, you aren’t limited to your circle of family and friends when it comes to this support system. Maybe you aren’t comfortable sharing your anxiety issues with them. Maybe they aren’t willing or in a position to provide you with the encouragement and support you need. Or maybe they just aren’t quite enough help. That’s ok.
Finding a support group or can be a big help. A therapist can be another key figure in your support system. If you are seeing a therapist right now, or are working with a life coach, ask them for help to build out the rest of your support system. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out to your system when you’re in need. They are here to help.
Like many survivors of narcissistic abuse, you may have noticed that the frequency and severity of your anxiety episode increase greatly when you’re under a lot of stress. While we can’t eliminate or control all stressful situations, there’s a lot to be said for reducing stress. That, in turn, reduces your overall anxiety, eliminating even more stress. You see where I’m going with this.
When it comes to anxiety and stress, you have two choices. You can allow the two to enforce each other and keep spiraling up to make it worse and worse. Or you can break the vicious cycle be actively working on calming down and distressing. This will start to lower both your level of stress and your level of anxiety.
The good news is that what you do to lower your stress will likely also start to lower your anxiety at the same time. Much of what I’ve shared and will continue to share throughout the rest of the challenge to relieve anxiety, will also do wonders when it comes to reducing your stress. Start with the simple breathing exercises I’ve shared. Going for daily walks will also help with stress.
Of course, tackling what’s causing you the stress in the first place is another good strategy. When you notice that you’re feeling more stressed than usual, take a moment to sit down and think about what’s causing it. It’s not always comfortable to dig deep and figure out what’s stressing us out, but once we know, we can start to take a proactive approach towards changing things.
If your bills piling up is stressing you out, sit down and come up with a plan to pay them down. Start cutting your expenses so there’s more left of your paycheck. You may even want to seek professional help to figure it all out and make a plan.
Learn about financial abuse in toxic relationships.
If something at work is stressing you out, talk to your boss, supervisor, or human resources to see what can be done about reducing or removing that stress. If all else fails, consider finding a different job. No matter what’s causing you stress, there’s almost always a way to reduce it. Sometimes it’s simply facing your fear and figuring out exactly what’s going on.
Removing the element of the unknown alone will help cut down on how stressed you feel.
By cutting back on how stressed you are, using the coping techniques I’m sharing to de-stress, and making small changes like eating healthier and making sure you get enough sleep, you can start to break that vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. You’ll feel better and are ready to tackle life, no matter what it throws at you.
We’ve touched on the negative effects caffeine can have on your anxiety a bit already. There is a link between the consumption of caffeine and the worsening of anxiety. Because everyone’s metabolism and physical makeup is different, the issue could be quite noticeable in your or it may not have much of an effect at all. However, because caffeine is a stimulant, it makes sense that it could aggravate your already strong feelings of restlessness and agitation.
Let’s think a little more about the potential relationship between your morning java and the jitters you experience. Then you can decide how whether to drink less.
The stimulant effects of caffeine can lead anyone to feel nervous, shaky or anxious. This is particularly true if you’re not used to consuming it. Also, if you already have an anxiety disorder or are prone to the emotion, drinking excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages and such could actually throw you into a panic attack. This substance stimulates your central nervous system, speeding up bodily functions like metabolism. You may not have known that caffeine actually works to suppress a brain chemical known as adenosine that slows down your nerve cells, making you sleepy. That’s how caffeine works to perk you up.
Some people can be quite sensitive to caffeine. That ordinary small jump in heart rate some people experience due to having a bit of caffeine can send an anxiety sufferer reeling.
If you notice a jittery feeling, headache, intense fear or other such negative sensation when you drink your coffee or eat a chocolate bar, try removing it from your diet to see what happens.
Take note, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that seem even worse than before. Try to wait them out and really notice if your anxiety lessens over time. This could be a potential key to improving your life.
It’s probably a good plan to lessen your daily caffeine slowly, rather than going cold turkey.
Take daily notes detailing how you feel as you remove it from your system. These notes can be motivating when you see evidence that things are improving. Keep moving forward until you’ve had no caffeine for at least a week.
Then continue to avoid it as you monitor your anxiety levels. This experiment should provide you with a lot of insight into how sensitive your body is to the substance. Soon you may find that giving up your favorite caffeinated beverages and treats is well worth feeling less anxious and on edge.
Chances are, you’ll hardly even miss it once you begin to feel better. Lessening your anxiety is an outcome that’s definitely worth a bit of sacrifice.
When you’re anxious for a long period of time, it can be incredibly difficult to focus on anything positive. Just getting through a day is a monumental task at times. So the thought of investing yourself in ways to overcome your anxiety seems downright impossible.
However, as we’ve already seen, taking proactive steps to engage your mind in other things is often exactly what helps to move past anxious thoughts. A focus or belief in a spiritual way of life is one very effective tool for improving your mood. When you find your spirituality, you begin to see things differently and to invest your energies in things that are important to you.
Let me show you how it can work.
First of all, know that you don’t have to belong to one specific religion or to attend worship services in a fixed location with other people. A solitary spiritual practice can be just as effective in helping to manage your stress as formal worship with a group. One of the primary ways that spirituality helps to lessen anxiety is that it places emphasis on something other than yourself.
When you’re preoccupied with your problems, you get stuck in a holding pattern that only intensifies your anxious feelings. Spiritual practice allows you to dedicate your thoughts and actions toward a higher being, God, the Universe, your fellow worshippers or practice-related philanthropies. Any steps to put your energy out into the world is a beneficial one toward overcoming the cycle of negative thinking anxiety can cause.
Spiritual activities and practice can require a great devotion of your time. Even if there’s not a formal time requirement, you’ll likely want to get involved in learning as much as you can about your faith and figuring out the best ways to implement it into your life. Frankly, this time spent creates a wonderful distraction from the nagging pain of anxiety. You’re using your time constructively to better yourself in person and in spirit. Any type of learning or self-growth is actually good for combatting negative and self-destructive emotional patterns.
The concept of faith is one that lends itself well to overcoming distress. Part of the reason anxiousness takes hold of people so strongly is that such thoughts become ingrained in the mind. When you’re focused on anxious thinking, you tend to not believe that things will improve.
Most forms of spirituality are actually based on belief, the belief or faith that there is something greater determining life’s outcome. This type of faith can be one of the most powerful tools in overcoming a negative hold like anxiety. Therefore, taking up a spiritual practice just might make more sense in your pursuit to deal with this dreaded issue than you ever could have imagined.
When you find your spirituality, you’ve embraced a number of actions that help to fight off anxiety. Take some time to explore the process and follow a path that feels right to you.
Struggling with anxiety is almost inevitable when you’ve dealt with a narcissist in a toxic relationship, and one of the best ways to deal with anxiety is to recognize it quickly. The problem with this state of mind is that it quickly spirals out of control. The sooner you recognize that you’re getting more than a little anxious, the better you’ll be able to combat the effects it has with various techniques that help you calm back down.
Whether you use breathing techniques, meditations, positive thinking, or any of the other tips and techniques you come across during this challenge and elsewhere, the key to being less anxious is to notice it as soon as it starts. It’s much easier to calm down when you’re feeling a little stressed and worried than when you’re in the middle of a full-blown anxiety attack.
Your approach to noticing when you’re getting anxious without a valid reason – remember, sometimes anxiety is helpful and necessary – should be two-fold. You want to pay attention to both your mind and your body. Each will give you clues long before you start to feel out of control. Staying in control and forcing yourself to calm back down is the entire point of this exercise. The earlier you can disrupt the feeling of anxiety, the easier it is to break through and stop yourself from spiraling out of control.
You’ll experience both physical and mental symptoms long before you get too nervous and anxious to do anything about it. Before I share with you what to look for, I want you to be aware that it varies from person to person and event to event what you’ll experience. Sometimes you’ll notice most of these, while you only get a few symptoms here and there at other times. Don’t wait until you show every single symptom before starting to work on alleviating your anxiety.
The physical symptoms are comprised of what we talked about in yesterday’s post. They include trouble sleeping, insomnia, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, increased heart rate, headache, fatigue, and weakness.
The mental signs that you’re starting to get anxious are a feeling of dread of fear, having a hard time concentrating or having a blank mind, feeling high strung and on the alert for danger, being tense and unsalable to sit still, and being irritable. Again, you won’t feel all of these mental and emotional times every time, but they are good signs to look out for.
Pay attention to your body and mind. Recognize the signs of anxiety early and then make an effort to relax and rationalize your fears. Break the vicious cycle and avoid spiraling down into a pit of anxiety.