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Resisting the Urge to Run Away From Anxiety

Remember that time I almost had an anxiety attack in my Body Flow class?

Let me explain. Body Flow is one of my favorite classes at the gym. It gives me an hour to escape from myself, to breathe, to follow the voice and movements of someone else, to enjoy and mainly to relax. Relax being the key term. (Granted, we are working muscle groups. So gaining strength is an added bonus.)

There I was, breaking into a sweat within the first two warm-up songs. I immediately wanted to turn the fans way up, but I resisted, thinking surely the other 15 people in the room weren’t sweating like I was. The music was loud, with the noise in my head competing to be heard.

The instructor’s voice sounded like rocks being thrown against a wall, and the movements seemed stiff. My body was rigid and unwilling to give in and loosen up as we moved in unison, all arms, legs, minds and bodies supposedly freeing themselves of all distractions.

I kept going, hoping it would go away, wishing I had taken my medication before I walked into the class, knowing I was already amped up from the events of the day. I tried to tune into the instructor’s voice, knowing I needed to focus on something to lower the volume in my head. I forced my body to go through the motions despite wanting to run out, take my medicine and come back in when I was dialed back to what is my normal.

My mind reached back to what my therapist repeatedly told me: I had a choice. I could endure the anxiety or I could flee it. Believe me when I tell you, the urge to flee was so incredibly strong, like running a marathon and pushing yourself the hardest with those last few strides until you cross the finish line. However, I was stronger than it. I chose endurance.

I knew if I kept moving, if I kept my mind occupied listening to music and the instructor, throwing my body and mind into the present moment, then just maybe the anxiety would subside. Sure enough, a couple of songs later, it was just about gone.

For me, anxiety is about endurance, about not knowing what each day will bring. Being armed with that uncertainty, owning it and knowing I have a choice if it does decide to show up. This time, in that moment, I was stronger than it. For me, that’s one step closer to living with it.

How do you endure your anxiety on a daily basis?

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Image via Thinkstock.