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GAD and ADHD what do you do to keep anxiety under control?

jesnor
Community Member

Hi all,

I struggle a lot with anxiety, constant fear of everything. Leaving the house, answering the phone, emails, people, food, noises, shops etc. 

Racing thoughts and constant worry about nothing and everything. 

I see a psychologist regularly and try to do things to help myself - exercise, avoiding alcohol, music, journaling, cold showers, healthy diet etc..

 


I’m starting a new job soon and worry about all of it. I feel like an imposter and like they are going to be disappointed by me. I had to resign my previous job due to burnout and I don’t want to go down that road again. What do you do to ground yourself and challenge anxious thoughts? Do you have strategies that you find helpful? Are there things you incorporate in your routine to help you? 

 

Thank you all and hope you’re keeping safe 

9 Replies 9

indigo22
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi jesnor,

Welcome to the forums and thank you for reaching out to us.

 

I can understand your concern about starting a new job with the level of anxiety you are dealing with. It's good to know you are doing all the right things for yourself. I personally cannot give you tips as my struggle is with depression not anxiety, however there is a thread that may be of help to you, the link is below. 

 

https://forums.beyondblue.org.au/t5/anxiety/self-help-tips-for-managing-anxiety/td-p/50482

 

Hopefully some other community members will see your post who have similar experience that can add some additional support.

We are here to support you so please feel free to continue this conversation if you wish.

Take good care of yourself,

indigo

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear jesnor,

 

 I have had anxiety since a child so I can relate to your post. I’ve also followed the same strategies that you mention which I know, while definitely helpful, do not always completely hold the anxiety in check.

 

One of my earlier approaches that helped for some time was mindfulness meditation. In my 20s I started learning about it and then started going to a Buddhist centre on Friday nights that had a free guided meditation followed by a talk from a monk or nun. I began to gradually learn to let go of racing thoughts and attended some additional meditation classes at the centre. I had a long-running morbid fear of public speaking but had to do presentations at uni. I found the meditation taught me to ground and centre myself in the present. I also learned to focus on the positive goal of what I wanted to communicate, so I focused on the fact I had an audience of people listening to me, that I was interested in my topic and I genuinely wanted to communicate and engage with that audience. I still felt anxious, but to a lesser extent, because meditation had taught me about present moment awareness and letting go of past and future thinking (e.g. thinking I’ve stuffed up in the past or fearing I’m going to stuff up in the future). The head monk at the Buddhist centre used to say, think of two heavy suitcases you are carrying. One is the past and one is the future. Set them down and see just how lighter you feel walking on without them.

 

A bit later I went through some additional traumas in life that disconnected me for a while from my meditation capacity due to quite severe dissociation. I then started to work on healing my inner child where, in my case, the anxiety originates.  This has led to me learning about developing a healthy inner parent who can take care of the inner child in me who can feel anxious and fearful. So in your scenario of starting a new job, it’s like there is a loving wise parent who can nurture and help the vulnerable anxious part to know that they are a capable person with good qualities who is definitely not an imposter.

 

There is an approach in psychology called Internal Family Systems developed by Richard Schwartz that works with these different parts of the self so that they are well integrated and all functioning together in a mutually supportive way. It might be something to even ask your psychologist about to see if they think it might be helpful. It is actually quite empowering when you can feel the internal supportive parent activate within you. For me that has been an inner voice that is beginning to at least some of the time value myself and feel and experience a sense of competence. I still have my inner critic that can be derisive and doubt me. But the wise, caring supportive voice is getting stronger and starts to appear now to counter the inner critic with a sense of self-value and affirmation.

 

 I’m not sure if any of that resonates or if I’ve gone off on too much of a tangent, but those are things that have helped me navigate anxiety. I think as you learn to ground yourself you are less likely to burn out as anxiety itself uses up so much energy. I’ve done somatic work with my psychologist too which increases mindful body awareness which may be another thing you could consider. I find the somatic work goes well with being aware of caring for the vulnerable parts of myself.

 

 I hope that helps a bit anyway. Like many people who experience anxiety, I expect you are a very capable person but with self-doubts that get in the way. If you can find that inner nurturance and valuation that can alleviate a lot of concerns with the external world, if that makes sense. Wishing you all the very best, ER

Hi Indigo, this link is fabulous. Thank you for sharing.

 

Hi Jesner, I can't offer much useful advice as I'm struggling with a very similar situation at the moment. I do suggest you have a lot at this linked post. Everything in there is what I've been advised to do by my psychologist (and am trying to do) - plus some personalised tips that work for the people who have posted them.

 

I'm also finding it extremely helpful to come on these forums and just chat with other people who get it. It's helping me ground myself to get on with my day. 

 

Off to do my mindfulness meditation now. Happy to talk further. Take care.

 

HS.

Hi,

 

Thank you for your reply! I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and insight. 

I’ve tried mindfulness meditation before but always given up  - because I haven’t been able to get it, can’t slow my brain down and then I get restless and move on. However, I understand that this is something to takes consistent practice. I haven’t actually thought about mindfulness meditation for a while and I am keen to give this another go. Might see if there is something in my area or if there is a guide/app online. Let me know if you know of any? Do you still incorporate meditation regularly? 

I’ve worked on something similar with my psychologist to what you’re describing with the inner parent. I vision that I have to voices or parts to me - one that is my supportive, caring and nurturing voice who challenges the other one which is the negative, critical and mean one. I’ve named these to voices inside of me and try to think of what my supportive inner voice would say when the critical one is taking over. I find this quite difficult still but working on it. Never a quick fix right. It’s reaffirming to hear that this has worked well for you - I’ll keep practicing this. 

I haven’t explored much somatic work. Another good recommendation I think might be helpful, I’ll have a chat to my psychologist about it. I’ve recently discovered that swimming in the sea or just being near the water or nature is incredibly calming and brings me so much joy so I try to get out of the city regularly. 

The self doubt definitely gets in my way on so many aspects of my life.  I recently had someone ask me in an interview why it looks like I consistently pick roles that I’m overqualified for. I always think I’m going to fail or am doing a terrible job even though there is little evidence to support that. It’s hard to challenge these feelings when it’s ingrained so deeply. 

Thank you again. It’s helpful to hear what works from a person who has similar experiences. I try to research whelp/strategies but with the overwhelming amount of information out there you get a bit lost. I take all your suggestions onboard. believe  mindfulness meditation could be a huge help if I manage to master it so I’ll be revisiting this. 

Take care 🙏

Thank you and hope you are doing well 🙏

 

I’ll have a look the link you posted! 

Hi EagleRay,

 


thanks for your response - I wrote a long response to your message earlier but doesn’t seem to have come through….maybe it’s not been checked by admin yet..

if it doesn’t come through I wanted to just thank you. I appreciate your suggestions and will definitely start practicing meditation. Wanted to ask if you meditate regularly and if you use any tools/apps/guide to help you through it? I’m going to incorporate it in my morning routine daily and see how it goes. I’ve always found it a bit challenging in the past but regular practice hopefully will get me there. 

thanks again 🙂

 

Hey Jesner, I use Smiling Mind app. It free, it's Australian, each meditation takes about 7 minutes so it's easy to use whenever you get a minute. They're all different types of guided mindfulness meditations - watching your breathing, body scan, separating yourself from your thoughts. It's great for beginners or people who find meditation difficult.

Hi jesnor,

 

 I did used to practice mindfulness meditation regularly in my 20s and until I was 35 (I’m 49 now). It did help greatly and I found myself starting to apply the principles of present moment awareness in daily life. I think going to the free meditation session at the Buddhist centre helped as it was a welcoming environment and having other people all meditating together was like a kind of motivation and support. I could kind of draw on that energy when meditating on my own then too if that makes sense. It was often the head monk who would give the talk after the meditation and he had a sense of humour and made everything light-hearted. So I think that helped it feel like a relaxation rather than a chore or pressure. So you may find going to a class with other people helpful, but I’ve also heard several positive comments now about the Smiling Mind app that Happy Sheep mentions.

 

 I actually lost my ability to do mindfulness meditation for a while due to things that happened in my mid 30s which I won’t try to explain here. But the way I have reconnected with it has been in nature, much as you describe, where I find my nervous system calms down the most. I have a favourite rocky hill by the ocean where I always feel safe and I can let go there in terms of things I’m holding onto mentally and physically. These days I don’t so much do a formal daily practice of meditation but take myself into nature most days, which is probably still a sort of meditation. Like you I find being in the ocean incredibly helpful. It always has a transformative effect and I’m quite sure actually changes things in the body that then has a positive influence on the mind. I do wildlife and landscape photography too which keeps me very much in the present moment, so it’s also like a kind of active meditation.

 

The somatic therapy aspect came into it for me because I was wanting to process past trauma that hadn’t been helped by cognitive approaches for me. I’d read about Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing method and found a good psychologist who does it and it worked well in removing the charge/stress held in the body in relation to specific trauma experiences. But some of the general principles may also help with anxiety generally. It’s based on his observation of how animals naturally recover from trauma and stress in the wild and tries to reconnect with those processes in us humans. Unlike animals we often don’t release stress and have a kind of mental disconnect from the body where we get trapped in our thoughts while our body is stuck in hypervigilance.

 

This kind of processing is more trauma-focused though so may not be so geared to what you are looking for in terms of general anxiety. However, probably the most helpful tool from Peter Levine in relation to anxiety is chanting a deep “vooo” sound that you can feel resonating within you. What this does is calm the vagus nerve which brings the body into a parasympathetic rest-and-digest state within the autonomic nervous system. It’s like an internal massage through sound that tells the body everything is ok, you are grounded and safe. I have found that extremely useful, such a simple thing but it always helps and leads to some kind of release. Just writing this reminds me I need to do it more often!

 

So I would say mindfulness meditation was a wonderful help for a long time. As I’ve gone along I seem to have needed more and more of a somatic approach and to work through the body with everything. It’s like movement/action is now incorporated for me such as walking in nature or swimming or focusing with my camera. However, even sitting in meditation still has a somatic component which is simply following and being present with the breath.

 

 I would say just keep experimenting to see what works for you. Like you I used to have difficulty with the inner voice/parent but that is now kind of organically shifting on its own so that a caring parent or competent adult self is starting to activate who can manage and feel on top of things (still a work in progress at times but getting there). It may be a case of time and inner processing for the inner self-caring part to truly come to life. So I would say be patient and just see what emerges. It will be good to start with the morning meditation as you mention and just see how you go.

 

Sorry I wrote a lot! Hope something in there helps. All the very best!

ER

Stanlee14
Community Member

Hey Jesnor, and a wholehearted warm welcome to the forum. I know this is a few days old but I thought id chime in and see how you are doing. I’m glad you are considering trying mindfulness again as it can be an incredibly powerful tool against anxiety.  I thought id share my own experience with it.

 

I started mindfulness about 6 years ago when i was introduced to it by my phycologist. Like yourself, I too had difficulty trusting the process as it doesn’t necessarily bring instant results. I too couldn’t seem to calm those racing thoughts anytime I tried to do a simple breathing exercise. However as you rightly said it requires practice and given time I found it had profound effect.

 

For me I found that practicing a few minutes a day slowly decreased my anxiety and panic attacks. Further more the time between anxious days got greater, if that makes sense. The thing that I personally had to learn is to not think of it like miracle cure , instead a preventative medicine. For me it has become a part of my anxiety management. The hardest part is sticking to it, especially if you don’t feel as though you are getting the results you’re looking for. Even more so in the heat of those panicked thoughts. Its kinda like trying put up an umbrella in the middle of the storm, you’re still going to get a bit wet.

 

By incorporating it into my daily routine I’ve been able to reduce the severity of my symptoms before they spiral out. For me it’s been one of the few non-medicated approaches that has worked for me. It’s given me back a feeling of control over my thoughts which i had long thought id lost. 

I hope you give it another try, if you’re unsure there are many apps out there that can get you started, one I can recommend is called Smiling Mind. Or discuss it with your phycologist who will be able to guide you. Any way I hope this is helpful to you in some way. Im happy to answer any questions if you need.

Best wishes Stan