Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Coping One Day At A Time

Generalized anxiety disorder and feeling overwhelmedWhen you have generalized anxiety disorder, the thought of having to face large blocks of time, such as an entire day, can be absolutely overwhelming.

Enduring day after day of seeing every day through the eyes of anxiety, where living does not feel spontaneous or easy, can make it easy to lose perspective about life. It can be hard to sleep at night or difficult to get out of bed in the morning, or both.

Even if you have few or no panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder makes it tremendously difficult to function, much less enjoy living.

I learned a really valuable tool in my 12 step program that helped me get through tortuous days while I was suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. And this is a slogan called:

One Day At A Time.

“Staying rooted in the present moment gives us the comforting reassurance that we never have to over burden ourselves with regrets and woes about the past. Nor do we need to burden ourselves with the future, by anticipating troubles that may never arise.”   -Source: One Day at A Time in Al-Anon p.79

I used this philosophy to mentally break my day down into small increments. For me it was 2 hour chunks of time. This 2 hour chunk now became a manageable piece of my day wherein I focused on that and only that, and blocked out all negative thoughts from the past or future to the best of my ability.

When I worked 12 hour shifts at the hospital and my generalized anxiety disorder was very active, this was what i did to be able to get through my days successfully.  I would start with the beginning of my shift- 7am to 9am, and focus on that and only that.

From 7am -9am, I would focus on and carry out all the tasks that needed to be done: take report on my patients, check doctor’s orders, answer call bells, etc. I would not allow my thoughts to project into the future. No ‘How am I going to sit in the cafeteria without panicking today?’ or ‘How am I ever going to make it through the 2pm grand rounds? Yesterday I turned bright red..’  <=This would be allowing my mind to wander around into dangerous territory– worry about the past and negatively anticipating the future.

No. For now, I focused on only the small, manageable tasks of the 7am -9am time frame.

Once I made it to 9am- and I always did (lol), I would then focus on 9am-11am and only the tasks and business that fell into that 2 hour increment.

Can you see how this helped me to face the prospect of a grueling 12 hour shift even if I was highly anxious?

As I made it through each 2 hour time segment, I was able to use the success of the previous time block to help propel me into the next time segment.

This is basically approaching your day with a very different mindset. One where you do not have to deal with a whole day “all at once,” -just small segments of the day–such a comfort! To the overburdened mind of a person with generalized anxiety disorder, this was a piece of cake. 😉

“Just for today. Just for today I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.”  – Source

Can you go to that meeting, sit through that class, meet those friends for lunch, make it through the work day?

Yes, you can really do it, you can live your life One Day At A Time. Or as I had to, you can live your life 2 hours at a time. Or 15 minutes at a time…

Break it down into small, manageable tasks.

By doing this, you will be able to see that the only time you have to actually deal with is the present moment. This is a different way of approaching a situation that triggers anxiety – or even the whole day if you have  generalized anxiety disorder

If you break your day down into small, manageable chunks of time, no situation need ever overwhelm you. It is such a comforting feeling for me to realize that all I ever have to deal with, ever, is just this one day. This is one of my anxiety self help skills, and it really makes life so much easier.

I wish you peace,

Jill G.

Want to know how I’m doing so well after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for so long? I recommend and use Panic Away. Click on the link to get started today and reclaim your life from fear.
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