Anxiety tests every limit you have. If you suffer from panic attacks or severe social anxiety or agoraphobia, you know you’ve been to hell and back. Probably many many times. Learning how to be patient with the anxiety recovery process when you’re not seeing the results you want, or not seeing them as quickly as you’d like, is super important.
It’s emotionally draining to be anxious and have to go out there where you know you will be potentially anxious in order to NOT be anxious. It’s really really hard…
And it’s scary. Scary as hell. Really, what other area of self-improvement is actually horrifically terrifying?
I think that’s one of the main reasons why we get discouraged after a bad day, or if we have a severe panic attack out of the blue. Setbacks are part of the process, and it can be hard to get up, brush yourself off and keep persisting. We all know consistent and repeated exposure therapy is key, but this is really hard stuff!
And sometimes I wish I could just snap my fingers and be all better. Heck I felt like that yesterday. Which is why I thought it would be helpful to talk about learning to be patient with the anxiety recovery process.
Here then are some tips to help you cultivate a little patience:
Write About It
Keeping a journal for coping with anxiety helps. when you have a bad day, journaling about it helps ease the sting a little. It also gives you a wonderful opportunity to look back on a particularly harrowing experience it and dissect it. You can see where your thinking got all distorted and see what lead to the panic attack.
One I get it all out, I can take a more objective view of the whole anxiety situation, and then see how I will do better next time. How I will watch my thoughts and prepare myself before hand, if necessary.
When you write or journal about an anxiety triumph, where you rocked it going to the store or a party or to your friend’s house, you can look back – when times get tough- and remember that you definitely can do this! You have what it takes…
You can look back for inspiration and self-motivation to keep you going forward. If you don’t write it down, you’ll forget- and anxiety makes us forget everything in the moment!
I use this blog as an online journal for just that purpose.
Talk About It
Besides keeping a journal or diary, you can also share about your experiences with other like-minded people who are also working on healing themselves of their anxiety.
By seeing how others are doing, whether good or not so good, you can learn to have compassion for them, yourself and your struggle. We all know anxiety “ain’t no walk in the park”, but we often forget to be kind and loving to the one person we can really, truly help the most: OURSELVES.
Remembering Where You Were
I don’t know of anyone who just woke up one day anxious and panicking and then got better overnight. For most of us, anxiety disorders develop over time, sometimes over months and sometimes longer. Getting better may take that long too. There’s just no thing as a magic bullet.
When I become impatient with how I’m doing, or have a bad day and get all ticked off, I have really forgotten how far I’ve come. I was so barely functional and zonked out of my mind on pills and really just a shadow of myself just a few short years ago. I was scared and desperate and angry and miserable- what a tremendous burden to have this negative mindset!.
I finally decided I’d had enough with putting all my trust in doctors and pharmaceuticals. I decided to take that leap of faith and start to go about there in the world and just wobble on my jelly legs using everything I’d learned over the years to help myself, but never actually tried.
Here is an example of one recovering anxious man’s journey over his lifetime, and progress made over the last 10 years.
So when you feel impatient because you’re still anxious & struggling to stop panic attacks, just remember how far you’ve come. Take an inventory- is your thinking more positive? has your self esteem improved? Are you sleeping better at least some of the time? Do you occasionally have a good day?
I bet you answered yes to at least one of these!
Accepting What Is
I think the most important tool in learning how to be patient with YOUR recovery from anxiety involves a little thing called “Acceptance”. Well I guess it’s not so little...
To me, acceptance means this: You don’t have to like where you are today, you don’t have to like how you’re feeling… But you DO have to accept it. You have to accept where you are on your journey of wellness today… And know in your heart that you ARE indeed getting better.
It’s not a race. It can be a really bumpy road (and man I have some serious road rash). And you can’t rush the process (believe me I’ve tried). But know this…
No matter what, if you are applying anxiety self help skills to your life situation, and doing something every day, No matter how small, you are going in the right direction. You ARE getting better.
Learning how to be patient through self-acceptance is one of the most loving and helpful things you can do for yourself. I talk about anxiety and say it’s like a monster, because it really is- it’s full of warts and bumps and it does everything in its power to beat you down.
It messes with your head and your self esteem and shrinks your world. It keeps you up at night and afraid in the daylight. It robs you of your life and your spirit. It puts you in the ER and at your wit’s end…
But just like any monster, it truly isn’t real. Once we expose it for what it really is- namely a bad adrenalin habit, it does start to shrink and lose some of the scariness.
So today I can practice acceptance and patience for where I am on my own anxiety recovery timeline. I may not be exactly where I want to be, but that’s ok. I am moving forward and honoring myself on my journey.
It feels good to give myself all the time I need to heal. I deserve it.
And so do you. Please remember to be patient with yourself on your journey.
I wish you peace,
One of THE BEST strategies I have for stopping panic attacks is the 21-7 Technique that I learned from Panic Away. Click on the link to learn more.