I was recently flying to Canberra to talk for the Black Dog Institute. The weather was crap, and so was I. I was anxious. Absolutely miserable with the stuff.
But rather than simply accepting it, I thought I’d examine why I was feeling this way. And even just by deciding that, I felt a little better. I no longer felt quite so hopeless.
I also started concentrating on my breathing, taking big deep breaths, nice and slow.
So where five minutes earlier the scorecard had read: ANXIETY 10 – DAVID 0, it now read ANXIETY 10 – DAVID 2. I was back in the game.
The more I analysed the reasons behind my anxiety the better I felt: Clearly, the thought of public speaking wasn’t helping, nor was the weather, but there were other things too.
As I unraveled and examined each of them individually and objectively, I could see they weren’t that big a worry.
Now I’m not saying I finished all of this by punching the air and ordering champagne. But I did feel better than if I’d sat staring out the window letting my anxiety snowball uncontrollably.
Nor am I saying such an exercise will stop severe anxiety dead in its tracks. But when it’s just establishing a foothold, it can be a great way to help put the bastard back in its box.