Posted in Hello, Anxiety.

Hello, Anxiety: “Briefly Introducing NPA—Neal’s Protocol for Anxiety”

This blog category is the journaling and journey-ing of my quest to say (with cautious sincerity) “Hello, Anxiety” and to take a look at the condition from my “me-andering” views.

So a while back my therapist “Rubi” gave me a homework assignment (I like homework—its completion shows what a good boy I am): “Neal, I want you to come up with some strategies for dealing with your anxiety when it shows up. You’re already doing some of these, of course. This is simply organizing them. An anxiety protocol.”

“Maybe categorize it into mental and physical parts.”

“Well, how hard can that be?” I thought.

Rubi told me to make sure I begin each of my strategies with “intentionality.” That I need to be deliberately attentive and to intend that each strategy or effort be effective.

For example, before starting a simple five-minute calming meditation practice, I might say, “I sit in this meditation session with the intention that my current anxious experience will improve.”

I have divided my protocol into three parts. The first deals with strategies which can help with both the physical and mental aspects of my anxiety. The second with mental, and the third with physical. Of course those divisions are academic only. The mental and physical ebb and flow into and through each other. I struggled a little categorizing my strategies.

But when anxiety comes a knocking, if I’m at home, I try to remember to head to my reading chair in our study …

… sit down and pull out my protocol sheet from the magazine rack nearby. (I also have copies in my calendar and online.)

If I’m feeling particularly stressed and anxious (say a 5 or more on a scale of 1-10), I have to push myself to get the protocol into my hands and onto my lap (instead of just going where anxiety leads). At that higher 5+ rating, my anxiety can even make, at first, my neatly laminated protocol sheet look pointy edged, sharp and too much trouble.

But I have worked with some of these strategies enough to know that if I give them a chance, they will not fail me.

For the next three “Hello, Anxiety” blog posts, I will examine each of the three divisions of my anxiety protocol. Please give me your thoughts and recommendations for improvements. This protocol is definitely a work in progress.

Stay tuned. But don’t get too anxious about it.

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