My alarm is set for 6:30 am but I woke up at 3:32 am unable to fall back to sleep. If this was a year ago, I would have been hysterical. My anxiety would torture me for the next three hours. I would be thinking “Crap! I have 3 hours to sleep…2 hours and 58 minutes…2 hours and 53 minutes…” You get the point. In the past, I would have panic attacks about not getting enough sleep.
When I woke up at at 3:32 this morning, I wasn’t jumping for joy but I accepted it a lot better than I used to. I tossed and turned for a while. I went into the living room so I wouldn’t wake up my husband or my cat. I turned Netflix on and watched reruns of Grey’s Anatomy. I turned it off at 4:35 am thinking I’d be able to fall back to sleep. Here I am at 5:22 wide awake with a full day of work ahead of me.
At the darkest times in my life when my anxiety crippled me, my dad was my go to person. I would call him on those terrible nights when I just couldn’t sleep. My dad would constantly tell me that I needed to change my way of thinking. He believed that anxiety is a chemical imbalance but he contradicted himself, or so I thought, when he told me that I had the power. I would get so frustrated with him because I could not change my thinking patterns. I was my anxiety.
Last year at this time, I called my dad crying in the middle of the night. I was stressed about not being able to sleep. I knew that when I didn’t sleep, I got cranky and when I got cranky, I got anxious. I was freaking out that I wasn’t going to be able to get through the day.
Was my dad right?
I had the same scenario this morning and I’m not on the phone with him. Fortunately for him, he’s fast asleep because his youngest daughter isn’t keeping him up on the phone. Did I change my way of thinking?
No. I don’t think that “changing your way of thinking” will cure anxiety completely. However, I do think that it helps. Don’t get me wrong. I was the first person to tell you what BS it was when people would suggest it to me. I can’t help to think this morning that maybe I am thinking differently.
For someone who is at their lowest point with their anxiety, here are some things I learned.
- Try to find the positive in a situation that used to make you anxious. Embrace it as best as you can. Instead of worrying about how today is going to suck and I’m going to have to function on less sleep than planned, I am trying to find the positive of being up this early. If I wasn’t awake, I wouldn’t be writing this post. It’s a small victory but it IS a victory. The way I’m thinking is a victory in itself.
- Exercise! It does boost the serotonin! For the longest time, people would tell me that exercise is the answer to anxiety. No. It’s not the end all be all. However, it does help. Since I am wide awake this morning, why not go on the elliptical for 30 minutes? Remember, it’s a small victory. Instead of crying about not getting sleep, I’m going to do something productive with my time and not count how many minutes before my alarm goes off.
No. I don’t believe changing your way of thinking is the sole answer to anxiety. However, I do thinks it’s possible now. Believe me, I struggle with this. I don’t always have this attitude but it’s a start.
So I’m going to go workout now on the elliptical. On the plus side, it’s also helping me get back into a workout routine…small victory.