Anxiety has long plagued me. Ten years ago I was in a life-threatening and life-altering accident. My accident left me with a brain injury, chronic pain, and profound deafness in my left ear. The accident also left me with a lot of anxiety – anxiety about my identity, anxiety about my prognoses, and anxiety around driving a vehicle.
While time has helped heal some of the anxiety of navigating a new world post-trauma and concern over long-term prognosis, I have had to be more intentional about working through the anxiety I have felt every single time I have gotten behind the wheel of a car since my accident. Others likely haven’t had my exact trauma, nor have my exact response, but everyone who experiences anxiety can use some new ideas and modalities to help minimize it.
Anxiety can be pervasive and debilitating, but there is no reason someone should continue to live with it. There are all kinds of tools and resources out there to help. While medication and therapy are probably the best known, there are many other modalities that could be beneficial in your journey. Here are the three things that have helped me the most:
Exercise – This one is huge for me. The more I move my body in challenging ways, the more I understand that my body is strong and powerful. Knowing that I can let go of some of the worries that come along with being a trauma survivor. The endorphins pumping through my system during and after vigorous exercise help too! Don’t worry if walking is more your speed – I walk a lot too. Moving my body is a great distraction from worry. It strengthens both my body and my mind.
Mindfulness – I have always liked the idea of meditation and mindfulness, but have struggled with the practice. I’m not someone who sits still very often so voluntarily clearing my mind and sitting seemed really hard. Again, the idea of being at peace is amazing, but actually being peaceful – significantly harder to accomplish.
I started small with this one. I would meditate for five minutes at a time. Sometimes I didn’t make it through those five minutes, but after consistently practicing I was able to manage. From there I have only increased my meditation practice time and as I have done so, I have reduced my anxiety.
Mindfulness in approaching every activity also helps reduce anxiety. If I acknowledge how I feel about a certain event/person/activity, then I can explore what I need to do moving forward – whether that be saying no or challenging my thought distortions.
The more I meditate or focus on staying in the present moment, the less overall anxiety I feel about any situation.
Acupuncture – This one has made the most significant difference in reducing my anxiety. I realize that I am privileged to be able to access acupuncture. Not every acupuncturist takes insurance and practitioners can be hard to find. If you have access though, I recommend trying it. Just the relaxing environment allows some of the anxiety to go away. Really speaking with and allowing your acupuncturist to know you, your challenges, and your story will allow your practitioner to create a treatment plan that is best suited to you. If something doesn’t work, ask about trying something else. In my experience, an acupuncturist wants to do her job well and the only way to truly be able to do that is if they are aware of what’s going on with their patients. Acupuncture feels like part therapy/part peaceful nap/part deep release.
These modalities and tools may help you, and they may not. But, they are avenues to try. I encourage you to keep trying to find what works for you. Don’t live with anxiety if you don’t have to. Everyone deserves a life of peace.
Carrie Rickert is an author, speaker, and coach. To learn more about Carrie’s story, order a copy of her new book, Trauma is a Catalyst: Rickert, Carrie: 9798887315225: Amazon...on Amazon today.