Anxiety is tough.
It’s even worse when you’re trying to explain what you’re feeling to someone who doesn’t deal with anxiety. They just don’t get it and quite honestly, can make you feel like you’re crazy.
But wait – if you’re one of the lucky ones, ya know, the ones not suffering from anxiety. I’m not trying to put you down by any means. You’re not intentionally trying to upset anyone and we get that. However, it is so important to try to understand it.
So let’s do this – BOOM, example: You, the non-anxiety ridden human, are going grocery shopping. You have your list and you scoot down each aisle with your cart with ease. You pile all of your items, weaving around other shoppers with a smile and head to the check out line. Your biggest frustration is the line of 10 people in front of you and the time it’ll take to get outta there ‘cause, man, you’re hungry!
Now, picture this: You’re at the grocery store, you hesitate grabbing your cart, with a shaky hand but once you have it you hold it close as a means of protection. You can’t help but hear everyone around you as if they’re on a PA system. You want to grab a bag of salad, but, ugh, there’s a woman in front of that cooler section and she’s taking forever. She grabs a bag and starts to leave and just as you go to make your move, someone else scurries over. You stop. Your insides tighten and twist. You say, “forget it” to yourself and walk around where no one else is, to the first aisle. As you examine the aisle you see three people, you begin to sweat and breathe a little heavier as you slowly push your cart, still close to you with the aisle sides feeling like they’re caving in little by little.
This happens throughout the entire store. This might seem ridiculous to someone that doesn’t suffer from social anxiety, but this is very much a reality for those who do.
It seems like such a simple task, until it’s not.
The best thing you can do as someone who doesn’t understand, is simply try. Always put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to feel what they express they feel. Listen.
If you are that person that suffers from anxieties like this, one of the best things I’ve been taught to try is visualization therapy. Like a meditation, envision the situation that heightens your symptoms. Visualize the most crowded aisle at a grocery store, with loud noises and big carts stocking shelves and many people trying to get through; things have fallen, there’s a kid crying, someone’s making an announcement on the overhead system.
Now picture it a little less intense. Half the people are in that aisle, half the loud noises, etc. Then do it again…and again.
Now it’s just you.
Calm. Quiet. You can breathe deep, in and out.
If you practice this therapy and you adjust the time that you go to the grocery store so it’s not at a rush period, you can slowly start to change your bodies fight or flight reactions and be one with the experience.
Try it. Give it a good chance to absorb and take those little steps. Let me know how you feel a couple months in. It’s amazing what a little hard work can do.