Hope For The Journey

The Morning Drive:
How To Shift Your
Perspective And

One day last fall, I was driving the kids to school. It had
started out as an ordinary morning…an early workout, a shower, and the
craziness of bustling two young children out the door and into their days.
Somewhere in between the grabbing of my lunch and the daily saga of getting my
son buckled securely into his car seat, everything started to tilt in a very
bad direction.

Mood Can Be Highly Dependent On Events 

It became obvious as soon as we hit the highway and found
ourselves face to face with a wall of brake lights. What followed was an
excruciating 50 minutes of desperately trying to lower my 6-year-old’s anxiety
about being late. You see, this would be the second day of backed up traffic
and a resulting tardy—something my daughter worries about often. This anxiety
about being late is something that she has lost sleep over. Something that I,
as a mom and a therapist, have been working diligently to help her reframe and
manage effectively for months. And here we are…late not once, but twice.

Anxiety Is A Body Experience

So, while I think I did a fairly good job helping her to
reframe the inevitable tardy she would receive, my own anxiety was raging out
of control. My chest was tightening, and my shoulders were so tight I could
feel the knots bulging against my blouse. It didn’t help that when we got to
the school–all apologies and explanations–my daughter’s teacher pulled me
aside to say, “You know, she will lose a dress out pass if she continues to get
tardies, right?”

Anxiety In Your Body Can Impact Your Mood

Leaving that school, I felt despicable. This was all my
fault. I was angry at the teacher for being judgmental and judging myself for
being late and putting my daughter through unnecessary anxiety. My face was
hot. My thoughts swirled around and around in imaginary conversations where I was
working desperately to redeem myself. All the while, I was also keenly aware
that this was an over-reaction, and that it was not really that big of a deal. All
of the wonderfully insightful things I had said to my daughter to help curb her
anxiety were still fresh in my mind. But seriously, these insights did NOTHING
for the pit in my stomach or the heat in my face.

Mood Management Starts In The Body

So, finally, I slowly took a deep breath in and a deep
breath out. I actively worked to avoid the repetitive conversations in my head
and to refocus on…anything else—the song on the radio, a passing tree still heavy
with vibrant fall foliage, my schedule for the rest of the day. Luckily, I had
a full morning schedule and was, of course, running late, so I had to hit the
office running. I was only about 20 minutes into my first morning session when
I realized that my body had relaxed, my temperature had returned to normal, and
I was fully over the morning’s anxiety.

True Anxiety Management Requires The Brain And The Body 

It was a good reminder that sometimes a perspective shift
can help, but more often it also takes action to truly resolve anxiety. We have
to actively redirect our thoughts and give our bodies the time to recover. If
we only tell ourselves helpful things, but don’t experience the letting go, it
just doesn’t work. And I was also reminded that it takes effort, patience, and
control to practice the coping skills needed to reset. If it’s sometimes this
hard for me to do it, how can I expect my daughter to do it just because I’m
telling her to do so? Rather, I need to practice what I preach and remember to
coach calmly and faithfully.

But isn’t that how it always is in life?

Hope For The Journey is a counseling group out of Round Rock and Austin, Texas. We help kids, adults, parents, and partners to survive and thrive after trauma, particularly sexual traumas. If you or someone you know is tired of being held back by the past and wants to move forward, we’re here to help. Find out more by clicking the button below.

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