Anxiety is a Habit- Not a Life Sentence

When anxiety flares up, as it most certainly does from time to time, it’s important to remind ourselves that no matter how horrible it feels in the moment, anxiety is a habit, not a life sentence.

Yesterday I had a such a resurgence of anxiety and even a panic attack at work. I was so freaked I almost couldn’t pull myself out of it. With all the recent chaos in my life dealing with my Dad’s cancer and at the same time illness with my husband, most of my energy has been spent.

I have been under a tremendous amount of stress because of this, drinking too much coffee, eating poorly, and getting way too little sleep lately (Oh and I have PMS, go figure!).

In hindsight all these factors made me extremely vulnerable to falling into anxious thinking and being over-sensitized to my surroundings.

But of course I didn’t see it coming. Do we ever see anxiety coming?

Yesterday I was called off work at 9:30 am. Later in the day I received a call asking if I could go work in the ER instead. I love working there but it is not as familiar as my unit and I haven’t worked there in awhile. And the change in my schedule left me feeling uneasy.

As I drove into work I had the same feeling I get when I am driving to a dreaded social gathering where I hardly know anyone.

Because of all the driving I’ve been doing lately taking my Dad and husband to and from hospitals, my usual CDs weren’t in the car to calm me down.

I felt myself getting overwhelming feelings that I was not going to be able to think or handle being at work. That I would have a panic attack and never come out of it. My heart was racing and I was sweating and I could not calm myself down.

I had the presence of mind to realize this was my stupid anxiety habit resurfacing and trying to get me. I did have the knowledge that my thinking was distorted and that I had felt this way before.

I had to persist in telling myself that it would be ok, even though I didn’t feel like it would be ok.

Man it was hard. Every fiber of my being told me to pull over and call work and say I couldn’t come in.

That was the anxiety monster taking over and winning.Anxiety is a bad habit that you can break

I turned off the radio and slowed down the car and used my voice of reason to help me.

I reminded myself of what I was going through lately, that I was scared. That its ok to be scared, it’s human.

I reminded myslef that I could do it afraid and if I just stuck it out for a little bit, I would be ok. I tried to do a little tapping to help me, but the thoughts kept coming back and scaring the crap out of me.

The anxiety monster told me no way, this was bad… REALLY bad this time. This time it would do me in… Do not go to work. DO…NOT..It will be devastating.

I started to believe the anxiety. Then I caught myself and reminded myslef that intellect over emotion always wins. I reminded myself that I could do the 21-7 Technique if the panic got too bad.

And then I remembered the best thing: THAT I WAS NOT ALONE.

I had God on my side to protect me, and my Grandma up in heaven who loved me so much and still watches over me.

I remembered that my mom always prays for me and that I have so many good wishes coming to me at all times from my wonderful reader friends here.

These thoughts gave me the strength I needed.

I reminded myself that I am SO fricking strong. I am so powerful, and my body and mind are healing. I have been knocked on my ass so many times by this stupid anxiety habit. But I dust myself off and get up. I REFUSED to give in to the anxiety and call in to work feigning sudden illness.

I reminded myself that This Too Shall Pass. This day will not matter not one iota in the grand scheme of things…

Can I tell you? I am so HAPPY I went to Work!

I felt like I was walking down Death Row going in to the hospital- that I was going to walk into he worst anxiety experience of my life. But I reminded myself that I could do Do it Afraid.

I remembered to have tremendous loving compassion for myself and my struggle.

I went to the ER where 2 ambulances were pulling up, and it was full to capacity. As I saw my first patient, my anxiety was about a 7 out of 10. My heart was racing and I was afraid I would blank out. But I didn’t. I was shaking a little, but I kept laser focused on what I had to do.

And by calling the anxiety’s bluff and not giving in to the fear, by acting as if I was back to normal, sure enough it died down.

As I felt myself starting to calm down, my angst melted and turned to happiness. I felt I would literally bust out of my skin, I was filled with so much joy and happiness to be able to work and do what I love.

I worked my ass off last night and the people I worked with were kind and helpful and just so amazing. I was part of a good team of people taking care of other people and that was what really counted.

It felt great. 🙂

As I drove home last night I was on cloud 9. As Zoe would say, Take THAT Panic Attacks!!

My anxiety habit is much much less than it used to be. But it does rear it’s ugly head from time to time.

I used to think anxiety was a life sentence. Now I know differently.

In closing please please remember no matter how horrible it feels in the moment, anxiety is a habit- a bad one, and it can be fixed. You hold the power within you.

I wish you peace,
Jill G.

If I can go toe to toe with anxiety and panic, and come out triumphant and happy after giving in to it for 30 years, YOU CAN TOO. The simple and effective 60 Second Panic Solution will help get you started:

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17 Responses to Anxiety is a Habit- Not a Life Sentence

  1. Zoe says:

    Great ending to that story! It does feel so awesome when you fight back and win doesn’t it? I didn’t know your hubby was sick too – guess I am behind on my blog reading. You are dealing with so much right now – be kind to yourself 🙂

  2. nicole says:

    hi jill, i always check up on your posts every once in a while and i came across this one. i am so sorry to hear about your dad and your husband. my prayers are with you and your family at this time. i am happy to hear that you went to work, anxiety is a state of mind that all of us can pull out of. i had a bad case of vertigo that lasted for 2 days straight. my anxiety has been pretty bad thinking that this vertigo will come back and never go away and etc. all “what if” thinking… thanks for blogging =) it helps to know that we arent alone in this fight against stupid anxiety ! best, nicole

    • JillG says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Thank you so much for the prayers I so appreciate it hon. I’m sorry to hear you suffered from vertigo, that is an awful feeling. You’re right, anxiety is so stupid, and we don’t have to do this alone. Stay strong when those what if thoughts are flying around! Hugs, Jill

  3. maz says:

    Well done you. You kicked it’s ass. I tell you you weren’t alone yesturday I was in London and on the taxi drive to the station to come home it started I felt sick and faint. I did what you did I told it to make me faint and throw up and just kept on doing what I had to do. Half the world was in the station omg but I just kept on ignoring it. I have to say I left my skin at the station door. It took me ages to get a grip and calm down but like you say calm down it does. By the time I was on the train I had a grip thank goodness

    We are great aren’t we

    You take care of yourself my lovely friend myprayers are with you

    Luv Maz x

  4. Tonya says:

    Hi Jill,

    I’m really glad you came out of it! That is really a horrible feeling. Your positive attitude really does help, but don’t you just sometimes get really angry that it keeps returning? I get so frustrated!! Any tips for when anxiety strikes during a confrontation with someone? I always get anxious if I feel like someone is mad or upset with me about something. Sometimes I get really anxious too around certain people too, how do you deal with this?

    Also, any tips for Holiday stress/anxiety? Soon approaching!

    Thanks so much! Hope everyone is having a great week!

  5. Tonya says:

    Thanks, Jill. I love your last statement about having more good days than bad!! I still get so angry and frustrated when it returns. The confrontation thing is really affecting me. If I even hear someone else being in a confrontation, I get all nervous inside. This morning on the way to school, two people were arguing on the radio and I panicked! I’m not sure why this is happening! I don’t even know these people! I find I get nervous more around certain people too, like my mother in law, I know, I just need to grow some balls and just not let some people bother me! I’m working on that, but it is hard, being a nurse, I just care too much what other people think. I thought the whole purpose of being on medication was so you didn’t have anxiety anymore, or is it just to make it less bothersome?
    Take care,


    • JillG says:

      Medication takes away some anxiety symptoms, but it doesn’t solve the whole enchilada. Medication can really take the edge off anxious feelings and it can be a lifesaver when used under the care of a qualified physician. It wouldn’t be used to make you not care what others think. I would venture to guess that is part of your personality- the caring. You use it in good ways as a nurse and probably take it to extremes when thinking about those that bother you. It’s a process i think. I work on this too. You have to get to the point where you value yourself more than you value what someone else is doing. That feeling of being bothered is a waste of your time and energy Why not bless that person and wish them well, and then put them out of your mind? I try to do that and it helps.

  6. maz says:

    Wow what a blog. So much to talk about and so many lovely people

    Confrontation screws me up to so I try not to get involved but it’s not always easy to keep out of the way. I can also relate feeling anxious when others argue. I think your right Jill we should take care I’d ourselves and care less what others think. When I’m really anxious I don’t care what anyone thinks I’m so trapped in my own head. I am learning to float through these times but it’s hard you just do it afraid

    Hope you are all safe over the pond fron hurricane Sandy I’m watching it on tv yikes it’s awful

    Take care

    Luv Maz x

    • JillG says:

      Yes Sandy has ravaged a lot of the East Coast over here. We are still without power (going on 6 days now) and living off a little generator. Tired of being cold and in the dark lol, but at least we are all safe.

  7. Tonya says:

    Hey Jill,

    Do you have any tips for pre-anticipatory anxiety? I find myself always getting anxious for upcoming events as well! Also, any tips for when anxiety hits when you are trying to fall asleep? I hate bedtime anxiety! Hope you are have a great week!


  8. Tonya says:

    Thanks Jill,

    I really appreciate it! I’ll look into them this week!

  9. Rosetta says:

    Hi Jill when I feel the way you did I tell myself to against my instincts and if I’m going to die so be it.

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