Sometimes the hardest part of the day can be getting to where you need to go.
When my anxiety was bad a couple years ago just getting to the grocery store or to work was hard. I just wanted to stay at home. There was just an underlying fear of being away from home. As I have said before, anxiety makes your world very small, and I am always trying to do the exact opposite. I want my world to be big and full. It comes pretty easy to me now, but when I was first working with Dr. S we would spend an entire session devising plans on how to get me out and going without any major panic. It wasn't always easy, and I sometimes found myself emailing Dr. S with last-minute questions. I have heard from several people that they have the same anxiety problems, so today I would like to share a few tips on what has helped me:
Ask yourself why you don't want to go.
You may be coming up with all of these great excuses as to why you can't or shouldn't go to a birthday party, grocery shopping, or karaoke night. But really think about why you don't want to go. If you can't come up with a good, solid reason to stay home, such as you are running a fever or your oven is on fire, then you should probably try to get out. If given the choice I think most of us would stay in our pajama pants and watch NetFlix all day and night, but we have to get out there and socialize. With real people in the real world.
Okay...so the answer to why you don't want to leave the house is that you are scared. Now what?
Again, list what you are scared of. What worked for me was asking myself a series of questions:
- Is someone currently trying to attack or hurt me?
- Do I know for a fact that I will be hit by a car, faint, get sick, or have something terrible happen?
- Is anything scary currently happening?
Chances are you will be able to answer all of those questions with a "no." Instead of thinking of all the scary things that could happen try to think of all the great things that will happen.
Now you are in your car...now what?
The drive itself used to be hard for me. So much time to sit and think about bad things happening. So I have come up with ways to stay *safely* distracted:
- Call someone. Using headphones or speaker phone, of course, give someone a call. Your mom, your best friend, an aquaintance that you know that loves to chat. Talking with someone has gotten me from Point A to Point B so many times. If it is someone that understands your anxiety, tell them why you are calling...they may have some tips. If not, just call! No need to explain why. For all the person knows you just want to check in.
- Music. Sounds like a no-brainer, and it is. Pick a favorite album, station, or podcast and listen away. Before you know it you will be to your destination.
- Breathe. Think yoga breathing and take deep breaths. Think about each inhale and exhale. Count each breath if you would like. This will help you to remain focused and calm.
When you are afraid to go out, to drive, to be away from home, I know how hard it is. And I know if you are struggling right now this post definitely falls under the "easier said than done" category. But give it a try. Start small. Make little goals to reach and you will feel AMAZING when you reach those goals.