I went to the trail a few days ago for the first time in, let’s just say, awhile. As I was at home getting ready I started to feel strange. I was hurrying for no reason and could not decide what to wear. I slipped my shoes on my feet and realized I was a little out of breath. It took me a few minutes to understand that I was anxious. Really anxious. To go to the trail? I was confused. It didn’t make any sense. I like the trail, exercise helps to relieve anxiety, and I wasn’t being forced to go, so why was I feeling anxious? To combat my anxiety I told myself I would go and walk an easy 2 miles. No more, no less, no matter what. Stepping onto the trail I saw people and dogs and at one point a trail maintenance worker with an axe working on splitting old tree trunks. I still hadn’t pinpointed the root of my anxiety but I know a little piece of it was related to the fact I hadn’t been to the trail in such a long time. I felt like an imposter and everyone around me knew it.
As I walked I kept breathing and kept thinking. I thought about being back in Pittsburgh and how where I live now is relaxing and safe. The truth is, I feel anxious a lot more often than I feel relaxed right now. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t. For example, the safety and security of our country is potentially at risk. Nuclear war is possible and scary. People are going to die because of lack of affordable access to healthcare and easy access to guns. These are things that concern me and give me anxiety. They are also things that I have no control over. Every time I read the news I feel stressed. In fact, just the other day I read a home in my neighborhood, a few houses down from mine, was broken in to. So much for relaxing and safe huh?
I’m working on ways to manage my anxiety. I know I can’t control what executive orders get signed or stop someone determined to break in to my house, but I can control my thoughts and actions. I’m focusing on what I am grateful for and the positive things in my life. I’m going to the trail more often so I can one day be healthy and strong. I am escaping regularly into books to clear and entertain my mind. I am struggling with anxiety right now but I am not going to let anxiety rule my life.
Since I don’t have the answers yet, here are a few resources with advice on managing anxiety.
The Essence of Managing Anxiety