Do you experience health anxiety about cancer for your spouse? Do you have caregiver anxiety when it comes to managing your many responsibilities–none of which you were prepared for? Do you want to know how to relieve stress and anxiety quickly? You’re not alone, my friend.
I’ve dealt with anxiety for most of my life. When I say “dealt,” I actually mean I’ve tried to avoid feeling anxious for most of my life. I can remember binging on a bag of Oreos in college just so I could numb the anxiety I had over an upcoming test. Anytime I felt anxious, I would find myself in the fridge or pantry just stuffing my face. Often, I didn’t even know how I ended up there! The problem is that eating worked in the short term by numbing my feelings, but it didn’t actually make me feel better. In fact, I often felt worse–still anxious with the added discomfort of feeling bloated and awful.
It wasn’t until I started getting coached that I learned how to relieve anxiety without medication or binge eating. Now that I know how to feel and process it, I actually think of anxiety as my annoying friend. I still feel it–some weeks frequently–but I have much better ways of coping with it than stuffing my face.
Why We Should Get to Know Our Anxiety
Having anxiety when your husband has cancer is pretty much a guarantee. It’s an emotion that seems to come up frequently while we are coping with our partner’s disease. It may show up when you’re waiting on scan results, sitting through surgery, or just coping with everything else in your life. Anxiety will come for a visit, probably often, so you might as well get to know it.
I think of my anxiety as an annoying friend.
Let me explain.
Have you ever met someone who, right off the bat, annoys the heck out of you? The more they want to hang out, the more you push them away. But once you actually spend time with them, you see their depth and humanness and realize they aren’t so bad.
Anxiety is a lot like that. We want to push it away–we want to know how to relieve stress and anxiety quickly–but once you let it in and get to know it, you’ll find it’s not so bad.
How to Get to Know Your Anxiety
Caregiver anxiety is very real, and it can feel debilitating if you let it take over your life. But there is a way to relieve health anxiety about cancer, treatments, the future, etc., and it starts by getting to know your annoying friend, Anxiety. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 – Clean out your thoughts.
Do you feel like you have a million thoughts buzzing around your head throughout the day? Many of those thoughts may end up waking you up at 2 AM. To start relieving the hold anxiety has on you, you need to clean out your thoughts.
Start by “dumping” all the thoughts in your head onto paper. This will take just 5 minutes and is super helpful! Don’t censor yourself as you write–just write everything you’re thinking about… the upcoming doctor appointment, your child’s play that you need to find a costume for, the 5 pounds you feel like you’ve put on in the last week. All of these thoughts buzzing in your head need to come out and go on a piece of paper.
Step 2 – Really feel the feeling of anxiety.
Next, to get to know your anxiety, you have to really feel it and get present with it. Remember that it’s just an emotion–a simple vibration in your body. It can’t actually hurt you! Stop what you are doing, close your eyes, and observe how it feels. Is it a tingling or buzzing feeling in your gut? Or maybe a tightness sensation in your chest?
Write down on paper your description of how anxiety feels in your body. By doing this, you separate yourself from the feeling. By naming and describing it, you take away the mystery and power of the feeling.
This is incredibly powerful and will move you forward in the process of learning how to reduce anxiety by befriending your anxiety. Understanding what it actually feels like in your body will allow you to recognize it right off the bat the next time it comes around.
How to Reduce Anxiety by Allowing Your Anxiety
When you allow something, it means you have some sense of control over it. Typically, our first response to anxiety is to try to deny it. We do this by resisting it, reacting to it, or trying to avoid it altogether. None of these responses work as well as allowing it does, and here is why.
- Resisting anxiety is trying to deny the feeling altogether or beat yourself up for feeling it. This does nothing except make you feel bad.
- Reacting to anxiety is when you let it affect you. Maybe you start yelling at your family or buzzing around the house doing things. This also usually leaves a general negative feeling behind.
- Avoiding anxiety is distracting yourself so that you don’t have to feel it–like eating and watching TV or zoning out on Instagram or Facebook. This was my go-to response, and it only left me feeling like crap!
Allowing yourself to feel, experience, and process your caregiver anxiety–and any anxiety for that matter–is how to relieve stress and anxiety quickly. Read more about this here: Take Charge Of Your Emotions Instead Of Them Being In Charge Of You.
The Quickest Way Through It
Like it or not, the quickest way to get out of your anxiety is to feel it. When you allow your anxiety in and really feel it, it will actually lessen its impact on you. Brooke Castillo explains this beautifully in her book, How To Have a Better Life. She says, “The better you are at allowing it and feeling it, the easier it will be to move through it.”
Befriending your anxiety won’t make it go away, but it will lessen its impact. When you get to know your anxiety, recognize what it feels like, and know that it doesn’t have to boss you around, you take back control. That is when you get your power back over this emotion that for so long has had power over you!
Anxiety doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, you can actually get good at feeling it without it overpowering you.
So the next time you find yourself feeling anxious and wondering how to relieve stress and anxiety quickly, stop and work through these steps. You can get “good” at this emotion to the point where it doesn’t control you anymore.
Personalized Support for Caregiver Anxiety and More
You don’t have to navigate your role as a cancer caregiver alone. I provide 1:1 coaching to help you build your mental resilience, emotional capacity, and caregiver skill set when your spouse has cancer. Whether you want to work on befriending your anxiety, silencing the negative mind chatter, or increasing your self-confidence to feel back in control of your life again, I can help! You can start finding support today by scheduling a free consultation call with me. I am here for you.