When we’re first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, we often long to return to the person we used to be. The problem is, that person – and, more importantly, the way they lived their life, got us here. Anxiety is a red flag that carries an important message – the way we’re living, thinking and responding is NOT working for us. It’s time to change.
Recovery from an anxiety disorder encompasses far more than learning a few breathing techniques and addressing some of our thinking patterns. It requires that we look at our life from a holistic perspective and start moving the furniture around to suit. In essence, it’s an opportunity to make a fresh start. Many people find that they emerge from this process feeling more like their true selves and less trapped or driven by external or past influences.
So how might we start to create a balance? The first step involves looking at where we are in key areas of our life. These might include:
Family & friends
You can probably think of many more.
Take some time to consider each area and rate it in terms of how well it is being attended to on a scale of 1 to 10. This is something we can re-visit and re-evaluate as we move towards a more balanced way of thinking and living.
Once it's clear what we need to attend to we can address it. We may find that there is a need to do more in some areas and pull back in others to get the balance right. When considering the key areas of your life self-honesty is important. Is one area taking from another – for example, is working too many hours getting in the way of appropriate self care? Would part time work be more nurturing? How would you make this happen? You might notice that family responsibilities mean that you're not making time for fun lately and ask 'How can I ‘shift the furniture’ to allow for this?'. Its important to be open and flexible when considering the options.
A few things to think about when ‘getting the balance right’ for you:
You can’t be all things to all people. Focus on your strengths and outsource everything else.
Recognise the importance of protective factors, including exercise, relaxation, leisure activities, friendships, other supports, and time with family.
Do what you love and do it often.
Be aware of how other’s expectations are playing into your life choices.
Make time for holidays or short breaks.
Draw a line between work and leisure. Have set work hours and stick to them.
Take proper breaks at work and get away from it all for a while.
Know your limits. Speak up when work expectations and demands are too much.
Written by Kate Henderson @ The Panic Room SA