Getting Through Night Time Anxiety: Intentional & Honouring Steps that Work
Earlier this week we had some very windy weather here that howled and rattled things for a couple of nights. With this came some major anxiety for me, particularly during the first night.
I succeeded by taking these exact steps:
Intentional steps for easing the discomfort:
-> rumination and doing nothing doesn’t help. Nor does my PTSD predisposition to freeze.
I went to the bathroom and had a drink of water
-> because basic needs should always be met.
I looked outside
-> facts help.
I wrote down the steps I was taking
-> distraction is great for me when I am really in anxiety and it was also a way to capture a very real account of moving through anxiety that I know others will benefit from.
I challenged and stood up to unhelpful thoughts
-> a first thought was ‘how crazy is this being anxious about the wind’ but I know that judgement is not helpful. I remembered that I can do things to help myself and that there are ways for me to take back control.
I accessed what I know to be true
-> a grounding mantra of acceptance was the key, ‘this is anxiety, it will pass’.
I practiced grounding exercises
-> a sniff of lavender and doing the 3*3 – naming 3 things I could see, naming 3 things I could hear, naming 3 things I could touch. I know that sensory input and awareness is a fast-track to calm.
I did hand on heart breathing
-> because anxiety rushes are as much a physiological experience as a thought based one. This is how I centre.
I patted our Max Cat
-> he was my connection to another being and absolute reassurance that I was not alone … and his fur is soooo damn soft and snuggly.
I sat in front of the fire with a blanket
-> for comfort and soothing.
I warmed my large wheat bag and placed it on me once I went to bed
-> the warmth and weight is another sensory adaptation that helps anxiety.
Honouring where I was and the change that I knew would, and actually was, happening within me:
I didn’t return to bed too soon
-> if I did I would have been put right back into intense anxiety and I didn’t want that.
I was ‘ok’ with being ‘not ok’
-> after a lot of years experience – lived and learned as well as practice based through my counselling work – and knowing the intricacies of anxiety I know that being frustrated by it or fighting anxiety does not help, at all and even prolongs how long it lasts.
I scaled my level of anxiety over time and noticed the changes within me as they occurred
-> absolute evidence that my level of distress and discomfort was easing and that what I was doing was making a difference which is always helpful to remember.
Once I was in a better place I went to bed and continued to be gentle with myself the next day
In small ways I am still course correcting with some residual anxiety still hanging around. Whilst my discomfort is liveable in the usual way for me again I am conscious that more space to myself over the coming days as well as reducing the demand I place on myself will help.
Knowing this is what I need to continue to do and accepting where I am in any moment is critical to my ongoing wellness. I know how to help myself now, and I do.
… with heart,