I never really understood anxiety. It always felt like this mystical creature that weak people complained about. I thought I was mentally tough enough to ward off this thing called anxiety. For anyone who doesn’t know, I like routines. I like to have rhythms in my life. For instance, I wake up between 5:00 am and 5:15 am, go to the couch and read my bible or another book. Then I journal for a few minutes, because I have become a huge believer in journaling which I’m sure I’ll write about at some point. Any who, once I’ve journaled, I then pray and when I’m done there I make some coffee. Coffee is followed by either more reading or annoying my wife for a few minutes. Then it’s breakfast, dress, and off to work. This is every single morning. I even try to do it on weekends, although I do try to sleep in a little bit.
I say all of that to say that I thought I could regiment my day enough to keep this anxiety word out of my life. And frankly it has worked pretty well. That is until the last few weeks. We had a big annual event for my organization and it was the first in our twenty-year history so things had to go well. Among many other stressors, this event started to take a toll on my morning. Throwing off my morning is a sure way to throw off my day. It started with me writing about being anxious or stressed during my journal time. Then it began stalling my morning completely. I would feel the need to write about it but nothing would come out. I just sat in this little ball of stress and honestly, felt confused. Was this anxiety? How did this happen? Why won’t it go away? I suddenly had a greater respect for those who feel this on a regular basis. It felt like a trap I couldn’t escape. Here is where those with anxiety will probably not appreciate me, fyi. I had to get a handle on this. I was not about to let this feeling bug me all day or bog me down, so I started to do something that I had done in the past and heard lots about but it was never a practice for me. Truthfully, it was not necessary, until now. I began starting my journal time by writing three things that I was grateful for. Have you heard about this? Anxiety and gratitude cannot coexist. Real gratitude drives out anxiety. This is not full proof and please understand that I am not belittling anxiety or those that suffer from it. This is my personal case of what I assume to be very mild anxiety. However, having felt it, I can’t imagine what those with real daily anxiety are going through. I pray for you and I mean that.
A few days into this new gratitude thing I reverted to the previous sitting in anxiety and writing nothing. It would take me waking up and just writing the first line to slowly progress out of it. I had to force myself to write those three things I was thankful for. It has really made a difference. It gives perspective to my situation and allows my brain to focus on positive realities in my life.
I have two motives for writing this, the first being to stay true to my intentions for this blog, vulnerability. I felt like I had to write this in order to be authentic. The second reason is not to give an answer to anxiety because there is no one size fits all. This may not work for everyone and it may not work for me the next time I get overwhelmed. The second reason I am writing this is to show males, dudes, men, guys with stone faces, that it’s okay to share. We need to be vulnerable, too. We can’t bottle up emotions and expect them to disappear. It will manifest in our relationships with others, our work, our emotional and spiritual health and who knows what else. I am a guy that likes to live in a shell and I am sharing this with you because it matters.