By Christy Gualtieri
As someone who suffers from generalized anxiety — an overall sense of dread and worry regarding just about anything — I recently found myself in a strange place: a place of not really having anything to worry about.
Oh, I can find things to worry about – I do it all the time – but I’ve been trying to make more of an effort these days to sit with the surprisingly uneasy feeling of not-worrying.
And it truly was uncomfortable. There was no immediate thing to be anxious about or worry over, and I wasn’t happy. But I truly wanted to see what it would be like to be a person who didn’t worry so much, so I just tried as hard as I could to sit with that feeling, to make myself just not worry.
And among the feeling of discomfort was another feeling, one I wasn’t prepared to experience, really: BOREDOM. I was bored. (I don’t know about you, but when I worry, the adrenaline wakes my body up a bit, you know?) Could I find something among one of my friends to complain about? Probably, but I’m trying not to do that, either. Could I utilize my favorite technique of tapping into the general unrest the majority of the world is feeling right now? I could, but then I’d end up feeling helpless and more depressed, so I decided to fight that temptation, too.
And much like little Wednesday Addams in the film Addams Family Values, when the stone-faced girl manages to smile and everyone is completely horrified, I grimaced my way through these feelings and sat with them. I tried to focus on things outside of myself, but the more positive things this time, instead of the noisy calamity of the world I usually find myself thinking about. I put my phone in my pocket for a few minutes, and I listened to the birds. I thought about the joys my friends and my family brought to my life. I remembered a funny joke I heard a while back and smiled about it.
I remembered all the things I had read about and discussed with my therapist over the past many years – deep breathing, self-awareness, and truly looking at the world around me, as plain and unexciting as it was.
These are all incredibly simple things, I know. And they didn’t always work for me in the past, because my mind wasn’t in the state where it could calm down enough to think about something other than PANIC! PANIC! PANIC! All the time. But it really worked for me this time, and as the darker and more disappointing feelings began to dissolve, they were replaced by the emotions of gratitude, and calm, and peace.
They’re still hanging around, these new emotions, even as I write this. I know they won’t last forever, and to be honest with you, I don’t much know what to do with them. But I like them. And I want to encourage you, if you’re at a place in your journey that you can allow yourself some time to actually get to know these new feelings of not-worry, that you give it a try. We’ll discover them together!
Until next time, be well!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health.