Hey, what do you do when you are super anxious?
When I am feeling worried or overwhelmed I develop unrealistic expectations and I get snippy! I develop unrealistic expectations and get snippy over the smallest of things; over things that are really of no great consequence. Things that didn’t worry me a day ago and certainly won’t worry me in a few days’ time! Suddenly these things scream at me for attention and I feel like they must be dealt with immediately – that’s the ‘unrealistic expectations’ part.
The next step is that I get indignant. I get put out over the fact that I am having to deal with these chores (on top of everything else) and why hasn’t someone else (by which I usually mean my husband) not noticed the urgency of these things and done it for me. That’s the snippiness part! I get snippy with the person who loves me most in this world!
This happened just a few weeks back. I was feeling very stressed (that’s a story for another day).
My patient, generous husband offered to do one of the “oh my goodness we can’t carry on like this; it has to be done now” jobs for me. And so, he got out the pressure cleaner and started cleaning the wooden walls on the outside of our house.
I know, I know.
We would probably have lived quite happily another few weeks, months or maybe forever without the outside walls being cleaned but that’s the point – when I’m feeling overwhelmed and out of control I develop unrealistic expectations.
Hadyn cleaned the wooden walls. He did all the rock walls around the house as well and the outside stairs and the end result was …. A lot of dirty windows. Yes, the walls were clean but now I had filthy windows and that most certainly was my husband’s fault, my overwrought mind told me.
So, then I spent an extra three hours doing chores (window cleaning) in huffy protest at the injustice of it all!
Knowing how stressed I felt, there was a better way I could have spent that day. The walls of the house would still be dirty but my mind and my relationships would have looked and felt a whole lot better.
The better way has to do with knowing how God has made me, made us; how our mind and our senses are created to work together to relieve stress. It’s called ‘congruence’. I read about this recently in a book by John Ortberg. Congruence is when something good you experience with your senses agrees with or absorbs your mind.
Standing on the edge of the ocean watching the waves crash onto the shore on a winter’s day – your eyes are full of the dramatic sight, you can smell the salt and feel the wind – and the moment absorbs your mind so that is seems almost as if time has stopped and all the demands of life have faded at least for a while.
You might have the same experience walking in the bush or watching a child play. Perhaps drawing or creating something out of wood takes you into that place. I think the latest fad for adult colouring books and the wonderful art of Zentangle is part of our search for moments of congruence.
So, what takes you into that place where what fills your senses also fills your mind giving you a rest from the stresses of life? There will be something because that’s how God has made you!
Make a list and keep it close by so that next time you feel your anxiety leaking out into unrealistic expectations and snippiness you can choose a different response!
I’d love to hear what works for you!