Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our First Guest Blogger!

Get excited, Everyone! We have our first guest blogger! I moved to a new state when I was 12 years old. I was a bit of a nerd (I wore a grand total of 3 different shirts), but there was a small group of girls who accepted me for who I was and became my friends. One of these remained my friend through high school and we reconnected shortly before I started this blog. She has always impressed me as a very kind and genuine person. Genuine people are very rare, in my opinion, and I feel very blessed to know her. I am and always will be very grateful for her support back then and now. Thanks, Nikki! This is her post.

Cheryl has graciously allowed me to be a guest blogger on this lovely joy-focused blog. Thanks Cheryl, I hope I can post something half as wonderful as you manage to do every week.

As I’ve gotten older I have noticed that there is a certain phrase that seems to come up in during conversation; usually when I am talking to the people who know me the best like my husband or my family. The phrase is typically some variation of, “Nikki, stop worrying so much,” or “Nik, you worry too much,” and “You’ve got to stop worrying.” You get the picture. I never really thought I was an anxious person (even though it is pretty obvious that I am) until I began to listen to what people were telling me. The more I got to think about it, the more it dawned on me, that it’s true. I am a worrier. This is not a fun realization, but, in my opinion, acknowledgment is an important first step towards calmness and peace.

Most of my anxious feelings are based in fear. Fear of what, I am not sure, but my guess is that it involves the fear of loss of control. I have an extremely active imagination, so I allow myself to imagine all of the worst-case scenarios of the things I fear. Recently, I have really tried to rework the way I think, so that I catch these thoughts before they become a full-fledged, worse-case scenario, catastrophe. Occasionally it is helpful. The problem is there is way too much in the world that I can’t control. So an important second step is for me to understand that I can’t control things I can’t control.

I am by no means an expert on this, but I thought I would share some of the things that have helped me reduce my urges to dwell in a state of anxiety. Hopefully this will also give you the opportunity to share what works for you (Cheryl did have a nice blog about holiday anxiety and there were some very helpful tips there as well).

o Practice makes perfect: Although I can’t control some of my life circumstances, I can control whether I let my imagination run wild with all of my anxiety provoking worse-case scenarios. As soon as I find myself imagining the worse-case situation, I have to tell myself to stop it. Literally, I tell myself to stop thinking that way. Maybe not out loud, but I do say it in my head to myself. Worrying will not help the situation, nor add any days to my life, so it is important to stop the thoughts before they run rampant in my head. Easier said than done, right? Well, I have found that the more I practice doing this the better it works and the less anxiety I have in the future. The problem is, though, I am not so good at practicing.

o A listening ear: Sharing my thoughts with others (meaning people I know and trust, or a professional counselor) helps me see how ridiculous my thinking can become. When I talk out my anxieties it also helps me to understand the root of my fear. In most cases the object of my anxiety isn’t the problem at all; it is usually something much more deep-seeded. Talking it out sometimes uncovers those deep-seeded fears. It allows me to acknowledge their existence, and therefore try and stop them when they surface.

o Prayer: In psychological research prayer (or meditation of any kind) has proven to contain a calming effect. I do find that I am calmed by the act of prayer. Prayer can mean different things to different people, and in my case I like to meditate on a Biblical verse or talk out my anxieties to God. Philippians 4:6-7 is my favorite Biblical inspiration to meditate on: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

These are some important things I keep in mind when anxiety comes up; however, they are not sure fire. But I do see a difference when I try to incorporate these things into my life.

What are some things that work for you when you are faced with anxiety? Have any of the things I’ve mentioned worked for you as well? We can all learn from each other, so please pass on any nuggets of wisdom that you have to share.

If you would like to contact me about this blog entry, my name is Nikki and you can reach me at purlsbeforetwine (at) yahoo (dot) com.


Cheryl said...

Thanks so much, Nikki! I really appreciated this. I like that you talked about "practicing" this type of behavior. I often get caught up in thinking that it should all happen as soon as I decide to make the change. But these things do take time and practice.

And I am so grateful that you mentioned prayer. Praying for help in getting over the worries that I just can't seem to let go of always works. It's amazing. But I don't always remember to do it, so all reminders are appreciated.

Amy said...

I agree with everything you said. I get especially anxious about other people (mainly what they think ) and it has really helped me to talk out loud my thoughts to a friend, my husband, or anyone really. It helps me to see, as you said, how ridiculous my thoughts can be. Sometimes I just get in a bad habit of continually thinking the same cycle of things over and over, and getting really anxious. Doing any of the things you talked about helps me to stop the cycle and think about something else, or pray, or do something that helps me be less anxious.

Anonymous said...

hmm.. thank you for this style!