Currently, I’m stuck in a waiting phase of life. It feels like I’m on the brink of a lot of great things, but I’m waiting for one more little piece to fall into place before I can begin any of it. It’s pretty rough. All of this down time is beginning to get to me. Some days I question my worth, my abilities, and my goals… which is unfortunate considering I’m pretty much exactly where I’ve wanted to be my entire life.

It feels like the longer I wait, the more intense my anxiety becomes. Nothing in particular is wrong, but just about everything is. That’s the clearest way I can explain it. Anyone out there feel me?

Before I go into how I cope with my anxiety, I’d like to throw in this disclaimer. If you feel the way I described above and it seems to be impairing your day-to-day functioning, please reach out for help. Call a professional or a close friend. We, at Cy-Hope Counseling, are available and willing to help whenever you are ready.

Now, back to our regular programming. Here’s what I do to try to overcome my anxiety. I call this “active waiting.” Rather than sit and worry, I begin to take control of my time and thoughts until my next phase of life begins.

Usually I start with the counseling basics of thought stopping and deep breathing. (Yes, I am a counselor. Yes, I practice what I tell my clients to. Yes, it really works!) Instead of focusing on the negative things swirling around in my head, I try to find something more positive or productive to think about – even if it means I simply remember how excited my dog is to see me when I walk through the door. While focusing on my new train of thought, I also begin deep breathing.
Taking deep breaths in through my nose, holding it for a few seconds, and letting the breath out through my mouth tend to slow down my pulse and my train of thought, which ultimately leads me to feeling much less anxious about my current situation.

I also try new things that expand my skills/build confidence. Recently, I decided I wanted to increase my creativity so I chose to repaint my dining room table. I sanded, primed, painted, and sealed it all on my own! It wasn’t easy, and it was definitely messy, but I got it done and it looks FANTASTIC! I’m excited to show people, I’m confident I can refurbish other pieces in my house, and I’m willing to attempt other things that seem beyond my skill regiment. I feel good knowing I did something that someone else doubted I could – I’m talking to you paint guy at Lowe’s.

You know what else I do? I read more books. Yeah, I know, not the most appealing option. However, if I read books in school to build my knowledge, it seems like that’d be a great way to continue to increase my skill levels. Sometimes, I pick fun books to relax myself and get away. Sometimes, I skim through professional books or articles to stay on top of the latest counseling topics and techniques. Either way, I stay sharp. I increase my toolbox of techniques until it’s time to put them into practice again.

Finally, I try to refocus on my goals and see how far I’ve come. It’s easy to forget some of the goals I’ve reached and become fixated on those I haven’t yet.  A couple of years ago, I would have never imagined being where I am today. Taking time to slow down helps bring the correct things into focus. I know I’m not done moving forward; the current in the river of life has simply slowed me down for a bit. You might even say success is “just around the river bend.” I remind myself that progress takes time and that’s ok. I don’t need to have everything together right this instant.

When all else fails, it often helps to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures – a one man karaoke/dance party. Sometimes, it’s easiest to just turn the radio up loud and literally “Shake It Off.”  There’s no shame in saying “Bye Bye Bye” to anxiety!  

I encourage you to try out “active waiting.” It not only prepares you for what’s coming, but also helps dissolve some of that pesky anxiety. Feel free to share some of your best anxiety reducing techniques below!

Written by: Sarah Henry, M.A.