On my drive home from work yesterday my Anxiety-Meter was steadily ticking upward, but I couldn’t put my finger on the exact problem. Yes, it had been a full week of back-to-school craziness. And work had been unexpectedly full, the lawn was looking seedy, and my cousin had sent out a distressing email. Nothing in particular stood out to me, though. Nothing that would cause a cloud of worry to hang over my head and push my blood pressure up so high.
Then my phone dinged and I found an email from my agent, requesting more information and chapters for a book proposal we just submitted. Even though this is a very good thing– when an editing team asks for more information it’s always an encouraging sign– suddenly my Anxiety-Meter flipped into the freakout zone.
My brain suddenly started shouting things like, “I have friends coming for dinner tomorrow and the kids have to clean the downstairs bathroom and I have to write four blog posts and I need to email twelve teachers and HOW WILL I GET THE LAWN MOWED????”
I love how my brain stops at lawn care issues. As if the length of my grass is somehow the most pressing portion of my life.
I don’t know why I spaz out over nothing all the time, but it’s been going on so long that sometimes I’m able to derail myself before I need a sedative. Here’s what I do, just in case you’re having your own moment over there and need some suggestions.
- Reframe the panic. Speak to yourself firmly, and do not be afraid to speak aloud. Say, “Self, calm the heck down. You’re a nut. Get a grip. There is no danger or true emergency here, so stop acting like there is.” (If you are actually having an emergency or are in danger, skip that last comment to yourself and dial 911 directly.)
- Be thankful. Plenty of people right now are waiting for ambulances, the police, or their angry mothers. They’re having a way worse day than you. Things could be far more terrible.
- Remember the little boy who brought Jesus his loaves and fishes. Jesus took the paltry amount he provided and then worked a miracle on it. With His almighty intervention, things turned out just right. The little boy only did what little boys do– wandered around with a lunch pail. Jesus did what Jesus does– took care of everything else. This story has repeated itself in different forms for thousands of years. We’re all just little boys with some snacks, bringing them to Jesus. Jesus is still taking our measly provisions and making sure things turn out just right. We have to stop feeling like the world turns on our efforts–it doesn’t!
- Repeat these steps until your blood pressure returns to normal or the sedative takes effect.
I kid, I kid. Sedatives are no joking matter, as I know from all those murder mysteries I read. The heroine is always needing a sedative and it puts her to sleep for days and days. Who has time to sleep that long?
I hope this totally useless information gave you a break from your panic, if nothing else. Thanks for reading, you dear people! I really appreciate it.
“When they all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:12-13)