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January 2011



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 Part of Me Is Here, But Part Of Me Is Gone

By Therese J. Borchard 

Most of us circle a few days of the calendar year that we know will be difficult to get through: the anniversary of a death, traumatic event, or even happy occasion. These dates are charged with emotion.

Sometimes we feel trapped by these dates — like there’s nothing we can do to stop them. The approaching date creates a sense of panic and anxiety in many of us, and we can feel out of control. The one benefit from anniversary anxiety is that we can predict it and therefore prepare for it. Here are 8 ways to do just that.

1. Forecast your emotions.

You’ve circled the day. You know it’s coming. Now get honest with yourself about how you might feel on that day. If it’s the anniversary of a death of a loved one, get ready to celebrate that person’s life with joy and sadness. Pull out some photos. Prepare to feel that hollow part in your heart open up once more to the loss you have felt since the death. Allow yourself some space for mourning, even if it’s been 10 years since you’ve separated and everyone tells you that you should be over it.

2. Plan a time-out.

Allow some time on the anniversary or the days preceding it to feel the range of emotions you are holding inside. Block out an hour to walk by the creek or hide out in a chapel to process the grief and anxiety. Take an extra long lunch and bring some tissue. To help surface your sentiments, jot down your fears or describe your sadness.

3. Stay away from the news.

If you’re like me you don’t need anything contributing to your panic up when you’re already anxious. So stay away from the TV and turn off the radio. You don’t need images of Ground Zero as you are trying to calm yourself, unless they serve the same purpose as photographs or journaling like I suggested above. I try to avoid any and all sources of stimulation when I feel anxious: the computer, tv, radio, bright lights, electronic games, and definitely Chuck E. Cheese, the state fair, and Six Flags amusement park. Pretend you are the Dalai Lama and go about your day as he would … breathing deeply and meditating at every chance.

4. Provide padding.

I’m not talking about stuffing your bra, although that you could try that and see if relieves any anxiety. I’m merely suggesting you be kind to yourself and talk it easy. In other words, treat this day as if you’re ill, because in a sense you are. Your body is producing too much Cortisol, the stress hormone and your amygdala, the almond-shaped neurons on the brain’s fear center is in overdrive, sending primal messages of panic similar to those in apes and monkeys. It’s like catching a cold or the flu, so you need to treat yourself as you would your sick seven-year-old. “Here now. Is there anything else I can get you? You just relax and take it easy.” A full-time job makes that treatment difficult, yes, but you need to allow for an excess of padding that you don’t otherwise give yourself.

5. Talk about it.

Something about gabbing heals. It doesn’t always have to be the old-fashioned way either. If the Internet doesn’t rev you up like I explained above, then it can be a great source of support. In fact, according to a 2002 study, Internet support groups have been shown to help those suffering from depression and anxiety. In fact 95 percent of those studied said that participation in depression Internet support groups helped their systems.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/10/03/8-ways-to-manage-anxiety-on-an-anniversary/

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