Even Good News Can Cause Anxiety



photo courtesy jeku arce

You’ve probably heard that stress can come from anticipating good things happening as well as bad. We tend to think of stress as all bad. The thing is our bodies, programmed a gazillion years ago, don’t know from a saber-toothed lion attacking us or a new baby joining the family. In the face of stress, the autonomic nervous system does its fight or flight thing whether the news is good or bad.

Last night, after putting up the new website, my heart was going a mile a minute. I had trouble falling asleep. Adrenalin had me all revved up with no where to go, nothing to fight. Resisting the urge to go back to my laptop and tweek the site just once more was as hard as not going to the freezer when I know mint chocolate ice cream lies in wait.

I should have been prepared for the jittery, nervous, impending doom feeling. Having a history of dealing with anxiety and successfully treating it in others, I know what the early warning signs are.

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Increase in heart rate.
  • Racing negative thoughts.
  • Irritability.
  • Restlessness.

A few months after I got married to the nicest guy in the world (over 25 years ago,) I had bad panic attacks. Getting married late-ish in life was a very good thing. Somehow my mind managed to turn it into something bad. It’s embarrassing the thoughts I had like: “It won’t last. Something will go wrong. He will die or you will die or a nuclear bomb will be dropped on Manhattan and everyone will die!”

With the help of a grounded therapist I got through my panic over achieving a positive yet stressful milestone. Launching the new website is significant but in the big scheme of things, still small stuff not worth sweating over. So I took a bunch of deep slow breaths, turned off the light and to chase the anxious thoughts away, repeated to myself over and over, “You achieved an important goal. You deserve to be happy about that. The website is good enough. Tomorrow it will even better.”

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