Double, Double, Toil And Trouble

Lately, I have been feeling a lot of anxiety.  I don’t really have any big thing to be anxious about.  I always seem to be just on the edge of a panic attack.  I’ve noticed that my breathing has become shallow.  There is a heaviness in my chest.  I often have butterflies in my stomach for no apparent reason.  I am having trouble sleeping.

All day today, I have been trying to put my finger on what is causing all of this anxiety.  Everything is going well at home and at work.  John and the kids are healthy.  I have a long “to do” list, but no longer than usual.  There is no reason for me to feel so on edge.

One problem I am having is that time is going too fast.  Minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months fly by.  Deadlines come and go and I am always rushing to keep up.  I wash, dry and fold a load of laundry and it seems that, before I can turn around, the clothes are in the hamper to be washed again.  It is hard to be mindful because I am worrying about the next task before the present task in completed.

A second problem is technology.  I know it makes me sound old and cranky, but maybe there is such a thing as too much information.  Emails flood into my in-box.  It is impossible to keep up with Facebook and Twitter.  News sources offer interesting articles that I don’t have time to read.  If I read an article, I lose track of it before I can follow up or seek additional information.

So how, with information pouring in and time rushing by, can I keep from having these anxious feelings.  I know that there a few ideas that have helped in the past.  Being careful about my breathing is a simple way to stay more calm.  When I notice myself taking short, quick breaths, I can remind myself to breathe slowly and deeply.  Taking a few minutes in the morning and in the evening to practice deep, slow breathing helps me be more aware of the way I am breathing all day long.  I know that the way I breathe affects me physically, emotionally and spiritually.  To remember to control my breathing, I don’t have to join a gym or have any equipment.  I just need to take a few minutes and breathe.

Prayer also helps.  The less time I think I have for prayer, the more I need to make time to pray.  Sitting quietly with God, repeating favorite prayers, reading scripture, or going to Mass all take time, but they also slow time down.  Prayer puts things in perspective, gives me answers, and helps me to know that God is with me and that there is no need for anxiety.

The little Thought Conditioners that I memorized long ago also help me when I am feeling anxious.  Today, I thought of a few:

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The kingdom of God is within you.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

And then I finally settled on this one and kept repeating it to myself:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

This anxiety and sense of foreboding is not from God.  Faith and trust will help me get beyond this moment of tension and return to a place of peace.  I do not have to have a cluttered mind or an anxious mind or a stressed mind.  I have a sound mind.  I have been given many blessings.  Time may move quickly, but I do not need to be swept along in the current.  Through mindfulness and deliberate action and constant reevaluation (making sure my actions reflect my priorities) I can regain a sense of peace, of timelessness, of being raised above the daily trials and anxieties of life.

Mindfulness, deep breathing and prayer.  I am going to use these tools tonight and tomorrow and see what a difference it makes in my anxiety level, in my productivity, and in my attitude.   I may not be able to slow time down or to stop the information overflow, but I believe I will find a place of peace.

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