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High Functioning Anxiety and the Love of Analyzing

I love thinking. I love analyzing, problem-solving figuring out the why.

This past week my anxiety has been high for obvious reasons, from political unrest to a raging pandemic to running a micro business. There are lots of things to be anxious about. That isn’t surprising. What is surprising and drives me a little batty is how I have been dealing with that anxiety.

Keeping in mind, I know that the best way to deal with anxiety is to get out of my head into my body, allow the feelings, and be kind to myself.

But here is what I did this week:

I spent a lot of time analyzing WHY I was anxious. I kept coming back to the same things as stated above, but I would minimize those things as not a big deal—I mean, the political unrest doesn’t affect me personally.

Yes, the pandemic is hard, but I should be grateful. I am so fortunate in that no one I know personally has been dramatically affected by COVID,

We don’t have kids, and I can work from home, and really what does complaining about this pandemic do it is what it is. There is no use bitching about it.

I half-heartedly tried to journal and do some stretching those things that ground me and get me back into my body, and as soon as I started to feel anything or my mind started losing control, I quickly started to do something else.

I numbed through TV, mindless reading, and food.

I stayed vigilant, watching the news, scrolling through Twitter (where I follow only journalists), and talking about the news with friends and family.

As a result, I slept poorly, having strange dreams of COVID and people attacking my home. I drove my husband crazy with my analysis of why I feel so anxious and what I can do about it.

And then this morning, I randomly put in my headphones and decided to listen to music—something I use to do all the time and haven’t done much since COVID. Pink’s song came on called Barbies, a personal favorite because I LOVED playing Barbies as a little girl. There is a line in the song that says.

I wish I could go back to playing Barbies in my room.
They never say that you gotta grow up, quite this soon.
How fast things change
And now I’m here, and all I wanna do
Is go back to playing Barbies in my room

I imagined myself as a little girl playing Barbies, when everything was safe and simple and joyful. And I started crying—​ugly crying. And I couldn’t stop. I just let it rip. Tears, snot the whole bit. It was a much-needed release. My brain stopped thinking, and I just let myself feel all the sadness, disappointment, and fear—without fixing, judging, or explaining it away.

I wish I could button this story up with a lesson: here is how I will stop myself from overthinking when my anxiety gets high.

In the coming weeks, I hope that when I notice myself thinking and justifying, I will pull myself back and let myself feel and get into my body.

AND I know that the groove in my brain that encourages me to not get into my body not to feel is strong. That is a well-worn groove. So tomorrow, when I feel anxious, and I decide to put on music to help me get in touch with my body and my feelings, my brain will be on a higher alert to prevent that. That is how it works.

The way around that is practicing self-loyalty. Is recognizing that my brain is running the show, and she is trying to protect me from the vulnerability of feeling. Analyzing, minimizing, and justifying are familiar coping strategies, and when my anxiety is high, they are comfortable.

But if I have my own back. I can recognize hey to deal with my anxiety, I need to get into my body, AND that is scary. So I will be kind and call in the Biggest Fan. I will remind myself that I am safe and feeling isn’t the end of the world. It is a practice.

Right now if you are feeling anxiety, you aren’t doing anything wrong. You aren’t broken. The grooves in your brain are protecting you the best way they know-how. And some days you will feel great and some days your anxiety will rage. Practice self-loyalty, engage in the activities that return you to your body and be kind to yourself.​