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Hal Mathew
Hal Mathew

Replace Your Morning Anxiety With Your Own Sitcom

Create some zany morning routines to keep the Panic Monster at bay.

If you’re all for waking up in a state of calmness, versus waking up to your usual 5-alarm emergency crisis, read on.

In my last blog I asked you who have anxiety traveling from home to school or work or other gigs to begin thoughtfully and carefully recording your journeys back and forth to whatever you’re obligated to attend. This mindful attention to and recording of details in your environment will calm you because the activity puts you continually in the moment – actually a form of meditation. This way of traveling will reduce your fears after leaving your home, but some folks can’t get past the front door. Here’s some advice for breaking away from being housebound.

Waking up with a sense of dread or panicky feelings is a common occurrence for many people afflicted with panic disorder and agoraphobia. It’s a horrible way to start the day I can tell you. When I was caught up in the thankfully infrequent highest anxiety state, there were periods of time when my anxiety level didn’t go down at all while I slept. On many a day I shot out of sleep straight into a panic attack. Wakeup panic attacks were the worst. The horrible disorientation one feels in a full blown attack is magnified by the disorientation from having been semi-conscious.

In the early years of my long saga with chronic panic attacks, when I was clueless about how to control or even affect them, a wakeup attack would get me running in high gear for my daily somewhat calming routine of school or work. Spending the day working or going to classes with others, being in a routine, gave me a sense of security. If I was at all able to travel, I much preferred a panicky trip to being alone all day with that kind of anxiety.

As the years went by I figured out more and more ways to keep anxiety at bay on arising. One discovery was that I could create my own “routine” and thereby create a series of activities on which to focus. When I’m feeling healthy I don’t want a lot of structure because I need the freedom to change whatever I’m doing or thinking on the spot. When I wasn’t feeling well, when anxiety was shattering my thought process, I desperately wanted some structure – something secure to hold onto.

I began to keep a journal beside the bed so I had something to turn to straightaway in the morning. I was tracking hours slept and anxiety levels and writing about whatever came to mind. The process gave me a focus, allowed me to be in the moment during the writing time. That routine morphed into another series of tasks involved in getting up in the morning. Eventually, everything I did in the morning I performed as a routine. But not just any routine. Magic, mystery, silliness were among the ingredients.

I love being “creative” about everything I do; it just makes life more interesting. The sort of in-the-moment thinking one does while creating anything is the sort of thinking that will help you totally recover from anxiety and panic attacks. Here’s what I want you to do: Create a routine for everything you do after you wake up; but not just any routine. You’ll probably need a journal notebook. I’ll offer a few brief suggestions from my index of routines:

-Take specific routes; count steps.

-Make up new names for stuff.

-Secret ceremonies for crucial talking players (like the fridge)

-Who says you have to walk frontwards?

-A secret servant.

That’s the word from here, brother and sister agoraphobes. Make the morning fun. Be in each moment. Before you know it you’ll be walking on through that door and down the street and off to a new life on the outside.

About the Author
Hal Mathew

Hal Mathew is a journalist and social worker. He began his writing and editing career at The Billings Gazette.

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