As a part of my lingering anxiety cycle, I’ve developed this obnoxious tendency to wake up buzzing with anxiety. It isn’t about any one thing in particular, it’s just unease that periodically flutters up to anxiety, then settles back to unease… and repeat. It continues this way until I work my way out of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful for being able to work my way out of it – I’ve had so many times where it spun up into panic. But, I’m ready to be free of this morning bullshit. Anyway… lately I’ve been utilizing podcasts a lot to help. I put on my bluetooth headphones (so as not to subject my wife in the early morning hours to various podcasts) and pick something that I think will help my mindset.
When the anxiety is really bad, it’s been the Anxiety Slayer podcast. Those women are so soothing and so much of what they talk about helps me. To know that they both have battled and occasionally still battle anxiety and panic really helps me.
When anxiety is distant (just an occasional flutter), I’ll pick a podcast that is interesting to me and emotionally neutral. Something that will capture my attention enough to keep my brain from circling back to the recurrent thoughts that will crank up my anxiety level (“I hope my anxiety doesn’t spin up” “why do I still feel off?” “I have to go back to work in a couple days, will my anxiety go off the deep end again?”). One of my favorite podcasts for this is Stuff you Missed in History Class. I know the title might sound boring, but actually it’s pretty interesting. It’s 30 min or so long podcasts about some person or event in history that isn’t all that well known. Today, in the wee hours of the morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, I listened to one about the Georgia gold rush (who knew?), one about Alan Turing the Codebreaker (I already knew about him, but it was interesting) and one about the history of the white wedding dress (it wasn’t a “thing” until Queen Victoria got married wearing one). I’ve also listened to Stuff you Should Know, which is fun and interesting, but tends to be a little higher energy – so I don’t usually listen to that at night or in the early morning hours.
Then in the middle ground – when anxiety is there, but it’s a middle hum (not full panic, but not a quiet buzz), I hunt up podcasts about things like mental health. Recently (as in last night and this morning after I gave up and got out of bed) I’ve been watching and listening to TED talks (I have the TED talk podcasts, but sometimes I switch to watching them on YouTube so I can see what graphics/images they are presenting). There were three I thought I would share.
Overcoming Anxiety: Embracing the Suck – given by a really awesome teenager (15 years old!) named Jonas Kolker. I identified with his stories of panic as a grade school age child (I had the same thing happen to me). And the message about exposure to over-come is true. I have to remind myself of this when I want to retreat from something due to fear.
Another one I enjoyed was by Neil Hughes, just a regular guy that’s battled anxiety and worry. It was actually quite funny with a good message. It’s titled A New Plan for Anxious Feelings: Escape the Custard!
The final one I’m going to share separately. I’m going to try out the suggestions he proposed and others might like to as well. So I think it deserves it’s own post.
I think listening to podcasts help when I’m anxious because it helps to pull my brain away from recurrent thoughts that don’t serve me well. These thoughts seem to predominately come when I’m carrying a baseline of anxiety. If I’m not “in a cycle” they usually don’t come forward. But, if I am, it feels like constant deflection. So, distraction often works well for me. However when I am anxious, I just don’t have the attention span or the calm to sit with a book. A podcast allows me to flutter around to burn off the buzzy energy (feed the dogs, take a walk, whatever), while still engaging my mind on interesting and/or helpful topics.
Always seeking whatever works to help bring my mindset to a restful place…