I do not suffer from generalized anxiety disorder or anything else closely related, but have, on rare occasion, been afflicted acutely - usually (not always) triggered by some external event. When this happens, I am convinced my children are somehow forever doomed due to my obvious and glaring flaws and neglectful indifference; that I alone am responsible for their future unhappiness, and that I deserve absolutely nothing in this life, and rightfully so. Very occasionally this acute anxiety impacts everything surrounding my career accomplishments.
I am the type of person who is very bothered by a great many things I cannot understand, but who, once that understanding takes hold, am no longer controlled by it. It was a dear reader of this blog who first suggested I may occasionally feel varying degrees of Imposter Syndrome and given my career, seemed to fit the bill. Another thing which helps me cope is this twofold understanding: Brain chemistry can make you believe many things which are simply not true, and, perhaps more importantly, these feelings absolutely will pass; they may linger, but the brunt will dissipate and things will be back to normal eventually. For me, the duration is generally ~24 hours.
Not wishing to wallow or subject myself to a full day of falsely judging my own self-worth, I have, over time, prepared a checklist of items which may assist. I have found this to help me - please understand your mileage may vary. That said, I am predisposed to reacting very well to dopamine. Those who require a more serotonin-based solution may need to seek out more individualized triggers as I have no idea how any of this works.
These don't have to be done back-to-back, or in quick succession. You may find one or two work right away, or on a timed schedule. You absolutely do not need to run through the entire list and can stop after a couple if whichever one(s) you chose seems to be working. So, in absolutely no particular order whatsoever, my personal BRAIN CHEMISTRY checklist:
- As these are my dailies, I ensure I am well-regulated and haven't skipped/forgotten them. Replace with YOUR dailies.
- Close all the blinds and turn on every light in the house.
- This works especially well at night, or when it is unseasonably dark/stormy outside.
- Play some mood-enhancing music loudly.
- Occasionally I use music to help me feel what I cannot otherwise, so may choose some rather sad/somber music but use with caution so as not to exacerbate the issue. Revert to adrenal-pumping music ASAP if you're not getting the desired results.
- Take an antihistamine.
- I don't know about you, but these can affect my mood, usually for the worst. However, since we're talking brain chemistry, they seemingly revert to regulation under these circumstances.
- Take an aspirin.
- Or an acetaminophen/ibuprofen/naproxen sodium; anything to alleviate even pain of which you may not be conscious which can often be a contributing factor to mood.
- Drink one beer.
- Dopamine good! Pain-relieving stress reduction benefits as well. Do not drink more than one as that too could exacerbate things.
- I cannot encourage this one enough for the stress-relief benefits alone, not to mention dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin.
- Take a long, hot shower (or bath).
- Often helpful if for nothing else than to calm and re-center.
- Take a nap.
- Usually most helpful after a number of the above.
- Play a video game.
- Preferably a mindless one you enjoy, and at which you excel as to not further frustrate yourself.
- Watch a favorite movie.
- I rarely do this one, unless all the others have failed, and only if it has a rousing soundtrack.
- Go to bed EARLY.
- Since mine usually pass within ~24 hours, I'd prefer as much of that time as possible to be spent unconscious so I can awake my usual, normal, happy self :)