I have really bad generalized anxiety and panic attacks. I’m just generally on `hyperarousal’ mode most of the time, but there are some things that are almost certain to bring on a panic attack. Of course, knowing that, I have anticipatory anxiety too. Suhweet! ; ) One of the places that’s worst for me is the gym. First of all, the gym is just not where I want to be. Secondly, I’m super-sensitive to what’s going on in my body, so the physiological changes exercise bring on are fodder for my freaking out.
Tonight I went to a Nia class at the gym. Part of me wanted to get some `exposure’ to panic, so I knew I’d have to do some major `mindfulness of current emotion’ (among other things) to get through the class. Thankfully, the music was great, so I was able to Distract myself a bit – but still I had a lot, A Lot of anxiety. I moved at my own pace, and tried to stay really conscious of staying generally mindful and in-the-moment, but particularly tried to be aware of physical sensations related to anxiety/panic. I did about 10 seconds of Distract with the music, and then 10 seconds of just noticing my discomfort and trying to be a little bit curious or even friendly with it. Not fun. But, really Effective. The stomach-rolling-butterflies-throat-constriction-legs-trembling feeling really mellowed out when I just kept looking at it, Non-Judgmentally. I don’t know if I could have kept that up for more than a short period of time, so it was great that there was a distraction there. So, no full-blown panic attacks.
I did avoid a bit by leaving the class a few times. I actually was pretty sure that I was leaving for legitimate reasons, but looking back on it, I was so desperate to leave the room and my discomfort that I was probably finding reasons.
Still, it was some Mastery. I’m thinking about going back to the gym right now, and really feel like crying. If I wasn’t so exhausted, I could use more skills – but really, sleep is probably a better option.
What’s interesting, is that in writing this blog I’ve noticed that so many things we do actually fit into a dbt `skill-box’. Sleep is a PLEASE skill. If we fill out our diary cards regularly and honestly, we may find that we’re actually pretty damn skillful – without even trying. Which is encouraging. And *ahem*, Encouragement is a skill. How ’bout that!
My `anxious tummy and I wish you a G’night.