When anxious feelings strike, I am a big believer in switching gears and using a completely different part of your brain.
If fear is manufactured by a certain part of your brain, then why not try to get out of that area and into a happier neighborhood, right?
One of my favorite ways to do this is to turn on my favorite television shows, I Love Lucy and The Golden Girls. My DVR is full of episodes of both shows and I turn them on not only during the day when I am feeling anxious, but also every single night when I go to bed.
I hate going to bed.
I hate being “still” with my thoughts left to roam to unhappy topics such as missing my parents, “When will I die?”, or “Are we going to nuclear war?”. Listening to my favorite shows as I lie in bed, helps to keep those thoughts away, allowing me to drift off easily, with pleasant feelings.
The characters in those shows are so familiar to me that they are like family.
Lucy, Ethel, Rose, Dorothy……I know them all so well. I started watching them back in the ’80’s with my mom. They were her favorite shows and she had every I Love Lucy episode recorded onto VHS tapes and we would watch them all the time, along with new episodes of The Golden Girls that would come on TV.
My mom and I didn’t have a lot of happy times together. We were not good at communicating with one another, but watching those shows together was one way we could hang out and have fun with each other. It was easy. We didn’t have to talk. We could just “be”. I can easily remember the sound of my mom’s laughter watching those shows. She didn’t laugh much and it was one of the few times I got to hear that sound.
Now my mom is gone and when I watch those shows, on some level its like being back in time. It is as if the past 30 years never happened and I am no longer a scared adult feeling alone in the world, I am just a teenager lying on my couch watching TV with my mom, with no real problems at all. In my mind, there is such a strong association between those shows and pleasant feelings, that when I am feeling anxious, all I have to do is turn them on and I start feeling better right away. Any sense of dread floats right out of me. Even just hearing the theme songs is like an elixir for me. I sing along with the Golden Girls theme every time….I can’t help myself…and it makes me feel good inside.
I don’t only use television shows to help me relax at bedtime. Anytime I am feeling lonely or anxious during the day or night, I grab a blanket, a cup of tea, curl up in my chair, turn on “my shows” and all is right with my world – if only for a little while.
I want you all to remember that when it comes to non-traumatic anxiety recovery, simple is usually best.
I know anxiety feels complex and complicated, mysterious and weird. But it is actually very logical, very “cause and effect”. That same line of thinking should be applied to your recovery. If stress, over-thinking, over-analyzing, and over-complicating things is what got you into your anxiety disorder, then the opposite of all of those things is what will take you out of it.
Uncomplicate your life. Simplify your thinking. De-stress. Quit analyzing no matter how strong the urges are. Do things that are easy. Do things you enjoy, even if you can’t necessarily relax and enjoy them as much as you used to due to anxiety. Try your best to at least go through the motions, to attempt to “rewire” your anxious mind and get it to lower the alarms.
Your simple normal “daily routine” is one of the greatest anxiety tools you have. Your routine is comforting to your brain. It says “Ahhh, everything is okay out there.”
So many people live with anxiety disorders with symptoms that have been significantly worsened because they stopped doing what they normally do, whether its due to feelings of discomfort and fear or maybe because they put a lot of their free time into Googling anxiety symptoms or analyzing their thoughts. If you quit doing things like watching TV shows because you are too anxious to unwind or because you are too busy obsessing about your weird feelings, this only strengthens your anxiety and keeps those alarms up. The things that are simple, average, “normal” – all the little things that you have always done throughout your life, such as watching favorite TV shows….these are the things that will give your brain a break, and help it see that all is right with your world.
Any other Golden Girls or Lucy fans out there? Let me know in the comments.
Have a great day and no worries,
*The advice given in this post is not meant to replace professional support and is not intended for those living with symptoms of trauma or with severe depression. Everyone living with anxiety symptoms beyond their control should seek guidance from their physician.
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