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Anxiety: What is with that?

You would be hard-pressed to find someone that loves feeling stress. Most folks would rather leave it.

Make no mistake, anxiety is wicked real and everyone that is still breathing experiences it to some degree. Personally speaking, I have an unhealthy attachment to it, or it me.

“Anxiety is a psychological and physical response to a real or perceived threat.” Anxiety can be good. In some ways, it protects us from harm or from doing stupid things that might cause us harm. Anxiety is bad when it becomes your constant companion in life.

Anxiety occurs when our limits are tested, as well as, our perceived or real ability to cope.

Anxiety keeps us from jumping off a cliff … well keeps most of us any way from engaging in that activity. Here I pause to give a respectful nod to cliff divers, and recreational bungy jumpers.

However, when one spends night and day feeling that he is on the edge of a cliff, anxiety becomes unhealthy. It takes its toll on the mind, emotions, body, and level of functioning. Therefore, efforts must be made to step way from the cliff when it is reasonable to do so.

To rid oneself of anxiety one need only to change the environment, circumstances, or flawed thoughts. Sounds simple enough. Sadly, it is not.

Take for example changing one’s environment or circumstances. Born and raised in Northwestern Pennsylvania one almost inescapable stressor is having to drive in a blizzard. Here nothing stops for a snowstorm and things rarely close, even the schools and Universities. And since life does not stop you really can’t elect to do so either. Another good example I recently came across is a circumstance you cannot walk away from such as, a screaming or misbehaving child entrusted to your care. Absent a spouse, extended family, or the cash for a good day care, you are it. You my friend are stuck.

Personally speaking, I am prone to flawed thinking in the same way I am prone to flawed spelling of grammar. I seem to come by it, naturally. I blame my folks as they worried constantly. However, as of 18 this became flawed thinking in and of itself.

The tricky part about flawed thinking, is that often you are not aware that it is flawed thinking, when you are well … busy thinking it. My worst fear in life is that I will catch hell for something I did or did not do. It is here I tend to blame my folks as well, as I regularly caught hell and not always for the best reasons. I think it is a Catholic thing. “Forgive me Father for the things I have done and have failed to do.” But at 55 it is flawed thinking to blame one’s parents or religion. Anyway, it is at minimum a waste of time.

Sometimes I get lucky and stumble on to the fact that my thinking is flawed. Other times I must rely on a trusted other to point it out. Absent a naturally occurring trusted other, there is no real shame in finding a trusted therapist. Even if you are a trusted therapist yourself, sometimes the therapist needs a therapist.

Aside from changing one’s circumstances and flawed thinking there are other means to manage your anxiety. Try to have more of a plant based diet and try to exercise some every day. Limit your consumption of caffeine. (This as I sit writing this in a cushy office chair, while in front of a computer, drinking a diet Dr. Pepper.) My thinking is not the only thing that is sometimes flawed. My own behavior is far to often flawed.

Yet another way to beat stress is to create prolifically. The creative process can be meditative as it redirects the troubled mind. So, paint, draw, dance, sing, or write even if you are not good at it. Take me for example I like to write even though I am not very good at it and it does not come to me naturally as it does others. However, if you have seen my art, dancing or heard me sing you would be thankful that I limit myself to writing.

With a name like Brian Patrick Michael McLaughlin I do not turn my nose up to the occasional beer. However, when one beer leads to two three or more, you lose count. You will end up more depressed and anxious in the end. And you will end up losing everything that well … counts.

I am not much of a prude when it comes to the occasional doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medication. However, caution needs to be practiced here as well. These little pills are wicked powerful, and psychologically and physically addictive used long term. More and more the medical profession is treating such medications as a temporary emergency measure. Rather, the modern prescription is often for (CBT) or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy specifically targets the flawed thinking and behavior that often result in anxiety.

A good friend and colleague recently sent me an article that said it best. “Success in dealing with anxiety is managing it not banishing it.”

So, if you stuck with me this long that is pretty much all I currently know about the topic of “Anxiety: What is with that.”

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