Turning Anxiety Into Creativity

Notifications encourage my anxiety. Crowds and cameras do too. Bridges, success, failure, and a few other things or situations that I have yet to encounter all do too. Sweat-inducing, face-contorting fidgety anxiety haunts me. Appearing cool as a cucumber on the outside; but on the inside, my heart, lungs, and stomach engage in a tango. My sweat glands concentrating their hoses on my armpits. In the dead of winter, I become a sweaty mess; summertime, I am a fire hydrant of sweat.

But I believe this too shall pass. In fact, I know it will. I have been an extrovert a lot lately. As a result, I am learning to find comfort in these instances of discomfort. In the past, I would use friends as safety blankets, dragging them along to events to ease my anxiety. Or flake and not go at all. On a quest to conquer anxiety, I have stumbled upon a few methods to address my anxiety.

Listening to Music

First, I tried listening to music. Listening to music is intended to distract from and soothe nervous feelings. Being the anxiety-prone, think-ahead-to-the-next-episode person I am, listening to music reminds me of my worry and that when the music is over, it will be back. Brief reprieves from worry solicit images of dark figures in trench coats following me closely, waiting for me to relax into “I have got this” mode. That’s when they reinsert themselves, whispering doubtful words as at me. And that’s one f’ed up scenario. It gets deep on these anxious streets.

Listening to music doesn’t work to ease my anxiety!

Breathe

Second, I tried breathing exercises. This DOES NOT work for me. I almost passed out trying to breathe deep and count and watch my chest. That too is anxiety-inducing. Apparently, the one who recommended this little tidbit had no idea how deeply I would need to breathe to ease my anxiety. Too dangerous for me; again, I almost passed out. Slow breathing is a suggested alternative to deep breathing. I haven’t tried this. I am too nervous about my last breathing exercise aimed at address anxiety. I am passing on this one for now.

Adjust Your Diet

Lastly, I tried the keto diet. But the run-up to starting the diet triggered its own anxiety. The keto diet is a high-fat diet. I can deal with that. Another benefit is weight loss. I can deal with that too.

A high-fat diet means I can eat butter on everything. I love butter. Sounds all good right? Not right!

One the of the can’t have is, coffee.

I need coffee.

I love coffee.

I write with coffee.

I read with coffee.

I get going with coffee.

I will do anything for the coffee.

Photo by Rizky Subagja on Unsplash

Coffee is a constant companion even when I am not drinking it, its presence is enough. Having the cup in my view soothes my worries. The idea of living without coffee threw me into another level of anxiety.

Finding Your Own Way

So, here I am having tried several ways to address my anxiety, only to realize none of it works for me. Maybe it’s my resistance. Maybe it’s anxiety’s service to me that keeps me complacent.

Clearly, I haven’t resolved my anxiety. I don’t know that I need to.

Curiously, I have learned to manage it. Awareness of my anxiety allows me to realize its service to me. The nervous rush of adrenaline created by anxiety quickly becomes creative thought. I write from there.

So, how do you harness the creativity from anxiety?

Through courageous effort, Do what makes me sweat because success comes next. Creativity!

Here’s What Worked

And here’s what works for me: consistently working to face my fears, pushing through those anxious moments. Finally, using those successes coupled with positive self-talk can combat immediate and future occurrences. Positive self-talk is the ultimate encouragement.

My mantra is, “You’ve got this, you’ve got this. We’ve done it before. We didn’t did; We made it. Now, look at us, living and shit. On our way to the next big thing.”

If you ever see me in public mumbling to myself, please know, I am walking myself through some anxiety. “You’ve got this, we’ve got this. We’ve done it before,” whether it’s a new anxiety or an old one. The ‘we’ve done it before’ matters because, we’ve gotten through previous anxieties before. We’ll get through this one.

The Quick List

  1. Push through. Challenge yourself to do the things that scare you the most.
  2. Give yourself a break. Push. Don’t expect to be over it immediately.
  3. Learn to manage your anxiety. Focusing on managing your anxiety instead of seeking to completely overcome it. The expectation of complete healing adds to anxiety.
  4. Understand your limits. Pushing yourself is great. Take it one step at a time.

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