Anxiety and Your Big Toe
The clock glared 3:22 a.m., mocking me in my wakened state. Oh, how I dislike being up before 7 a.m., a throwback from all of those 5 a.m. mornings working at the hospital. This only adds fuel to my “monkey mind” buzzing from one thought to the next, chasing sleep further away with each thought.
Last week’s call on Emotional Energy quickly unveiled a common thread – anxiety, chronic low-grade anxiety that fills your mind with “what if’s” of the negative variety, and wakes you up in the middle of the night with a racing mind and no sleep in sight. It runs like static in the background ever present.
Even without the sleepless nights, it’s exhausting to live with chronic low-grade anxiety. It’s like quicksand slowly sucking you in while you feel helpless to change it or worse yet barely even notice it.
In today’s society, there is an epidemic of chronic low-grade anxiety, which over time escalates to physical symptoms. The constant change and uncertainty that we live in only adds to the problem.
Anxiety stems from fear. Not the fear derived from immediate danger, but the fear of what might happen. This fear of the “what if” causes anxiety because there is a gap between what’s happening in the moment and what your mind is projecting into the future. You cannot cope with anything in the future because you’re not there you’re here in the present. You can only cope with things here in the present moment.
Anything in the future is simply a projection of your mind. It hasn’t happened yet so you can’t cope with it. This creates a gap and our mind runs amok with the possibilities of what tragedy might befall us. The anxiety associated with this feels real and slows you down it can even become paralyzing.
Mind racing from one thought to the next, punctuated with the oh so not helpful “I have to get some sleep” this went on for about 20 minutes. I’m alternating between staring at the clock and staring at the ceiling, when I remember my big toe. Ohhhh, sweet relief, and I’m back to sleep before that clock hits 2:50 a.m.
My big toe is a pattern interrupt, a self healing method. As I focus my attention on my big toe, how it feels when it’s still, how it feels when it’s moving, the noise it makes when it hits the sheet, the sensation I feel when it bumps up against the other toe, it tricks my mind to drop the tragic stories its spinning and it brings my attention to the present moment.
I am no longer wondering and worrying what’s going to happen in the future. I am not thinking about what my toe is going to do next week, that’s just crazy, or wondering when sleep will return, (really just as crazy if you think about it). I am only focused on what my big toe is experiencing right now in the moment.
Kind of silly isn’t it….but it works I swear.
So, I invite you to give it a try. Next time you feel anxiety slipping in and you just can’t seem to shake it, take a look at your big toe.