I am 1 of 40 million adults who suffer from anxiety in the United States and lately I have been struggling.
I rarely talk about it and barely use intervention, but it has been so heavy lately that I need to share. I try to be this strong woman who has her life together, but sometimes the world is dark around me and it drags me in.
My mind races. My heart rate increases. My stomach twists and turns. My hands start to shake and I have to do everything in my power not to have a panic attack. I count to ten. I pace my breaths. I give myself a pep talk. I try to focus on anything other than how I am feeling. Usually it goes away, but lately it has been coming back every single day.
Hoping to find some words of wisdom, I googled something like books you should read in your thirties. A book called “anxious for nothing feeling calm in a chaotic world” by Max Lucado came up on my screen. I was hesitant on getting it. I was not going to. It focuses a lot on God and even though we are Catholic, we (I) have a hard time getting to church.
But, there was a gravity pulling me toward my local library’s website requesting it.
When I picked up the book, the librarian put my receipt in the book. I opened it to where my receipt was and the page said “Leave your concerns with him with thanksgiving.” I immediately smiled and showed my husband. I lost some very important people to me around thanksgiving and I have been thinking about them a lot. This was my sign that things were going to be okay.
In that moment I decided to open up and tell him how I have been feeling. He said “I think about that stuff too.” I said, “so I am not crazy?” He smiled and said no. It was good to know that I am not alone in how I have been feeling.
I remember reading the first chapter on the Trolley during my commute to work and my heart was no longer aching. Literally before the first chapter ended my heart was lighter. It was a moment where I looked out the window and said OMG. I needed to see it, read it, hear it.
In the book, Max speaks about gratitude. “Gratitude keeps us focused on the present.”
And while I think I am a very grateful individual I never speak it out loud.
I decided to give it a try. In the mornings and every night before bed I list three things I am grateful for that day and my worries go right out the window where they belong. On Wednesdays, I am grateful for getting an extra hour of sleep because I work from home. Some days I am grateful for paying games with my son. Other days I am grateful for a 15 minute hot shower alone. It does not matter how stressful the day is. I can always come up with at least three (mostly more) things I am grateful for.
It has been eye opening and a little relief has set in.
“What does all this anxiety mean? All this fear? Trepidation? Restlessness? Insecurity? What does it mean? Simply this: you are human.”
There will be days that I will struggle. There will be days that my as needed medicine will have to step-in. There will be days that I will not be able to handle alone and I will need to talk to someone.
But, if this book has taught me anything it was how to battle anxiety with gratefulness.
On the last page Max writes:
“Today, I will live today. Yesterday has passed. Tomorrow is not yet. I’m left with today. So, today, I will live today. Relive yesterday? No. I will learn from it. I will seek mercy for it. I will take joy in it. But I won’t live in it. The sun has set on yesterday. The sun has yet to rise on tomorrow. Worry about the future? To what gain? It deserves a glance, nothing more. I can’t change tomorrow until tomorrow. Today, I will live today. I will face today’s challenges with today’s strength. I will dance today’s waltz with today’s music. I will celebrate today’s opportunities with today’s hope. Today. May I laugh, listen, learn, and love. And tomorrow, if it comes, may I do so again.”
I will choose to do just that every single day.