The last December, old friends - anxiety and intrusive thoughts - made an unwelcome visit just before Christmas and off we went on a journey again. This time it took me only a short while to realize I needed to neutralize the fear by retaking the medication I had weened myself off of 9 months earlier. My thoughts were all over the place, night sweats, sleepless nights and loss of appetite had returned. I stopped doing the activities that once brought me joy. I knew I was heading towards the spiral again but thankfully I caught myself before that happened. Perhaps this was gods way of guiding me to deal with things I had never fully resolved and still needed to work through.
I knew I had to return to the battlefield to take on the task of rewiring my brain & creating healthy practices and thought processes. I started by taking a break from all social media platforms, TV, music and any other platforms which heightened my intrusive thoughts.
It was not easy...I had to find alternatives to keep my mind occupied and returned to the calming exercise of coloring, journaling and listening to podcasts (which is a great source of knowledge, learning and reading). I continue to practice these exercise's till today. I started therapy once again as it helped me a great deal in the past. Having this setback was frustrating as I thought that I had worked through my anxiety and fear but life threw me another curve ball, once again.
To help me on this journey, I reintroduced these once again into my routine:
Upon waking, taking the time to be fully aware before jumping out of bed.
Performing a self check-in to gauge my anxiety level and noting down my feelings and my thoughts.
Going to the bathroom and getting ready for my workout.
Meditating (7 min)
Showering and getting ready for work.
Setting aside time for prayer.
Journaling my thoughts (writing left and right handed) to create new neural pathways to encourage new ways of thinking.
Accepting that I had experienced a setback and acknowledging my thoughts was a tough journey however one that has taught me about my ability to bounce back again and again no matter how many challenges arrive. Like boxing round after round, you learn more about yourself. The longer you stay in the fight the more strength and energy you muster to get through it.
My monkey brain had to be trained to focus on one task at the time as this brain always jumped from one thought to another continuously. Focusing on one task at a time taught me to stay within the present moment and stopped me from venturing into the past or looking too far ahead in the future. I also started practising deep breathing. I was introduced to this in therapy which is also a great way of staying in the present moment.
I found the following exercise helpful in always bringing myself back in the present moment when I feel anxious or nervous and you can too:
Identify 5 objects around you
Touch 4 objects around you
Listen to 3 sounds around you
Smell 2 things around you
Try identifying the taste in your mouth.
List 1 positive thing about yourself or situation
Despite it all, I now know that the pain was temporary but the healing will last a lifetime!