Getting Caught In The Rain Taught Me These 4 Important Lessons About Dealing With Anxiety

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How To Deal With Anxiety & Stress By Controlling Mindset & Fight Or Flight Response

Learning how to deal with anxiety and stress is tough, but it can become easier if you can control your mindset and your fight or flight response.

Anxiety is no one's friend and we all want to know how to deal with anxiety and stress when they threaten to ruin our day. The symptoms of anxiety disorders are not always obvious but with the proper stress management techniques, you can make it through. 

Even psychologists get stressed, anxious, and frustrated. After all, psychologists are people, too. 

RELATED: How To Deal With Anxiety When Worrying Is Ruining Your Life

I was standing in the rain waiting for my bus, which would take me to the subway, which would take me into the city. It costs a small fortune to park a car in Boston. Hence, I take public transportation. 

I am not a fan of rain and having grown up in Southern California, I wasn’t subjected to too much rain for all of my life.

When humans are faced with a threat or an upsetting situation, a stress response is triggered and we either fight, take flight, or freeze. Different parts of the body (like the brain, your heart, lungs, stomach, and eyes) are put on alert, depending on how threatening or upsetting the situation is. 

There were great reasons why our flight, fight, or freeze responses existed, especially when our ancestors had to be really vigilant of lions, tigers, and bears. But, in this modern age, we no longer have to do battle with animals to survive. 

Instead, we are faced with other stressors and anxiety attack triggers, like long commutes, hard deadlines at work, or upsetting news stories.  

Most people don’t like feeling frustrated and uncomfortable and these feelings can come out in the form of worry or anxiety. Any of these feelings can zap your physical and emotional energy. 

A great thing to remember is that feelings are fleeting. That feeling of discomfort might quickly be replaced by a feeling of freedom or lightness. For example, as soon as I got on my bus, I was a much happier camper. 

Something as simple as the rain was able to teach me some very important lessons about dealing with anxiety. 

Here are 4 things I learned about dealing with anxiety and stress, all because I don't like rain. 

1. Surrender to the moment

There are some things in life and on planet Earth that you simply cannot change. Like, the fact that it rained all day on the day I wrote this article.  

I knew at the bus stop that it would be less draining on my energy levels if I simply surrendered to the moment. It wasn’t my fault that it was raining. I didn’t push the "Rain All Day" button in the sky.  

So, I stopped fighting the fact that it was raining. I turned my thought from "It’s raining and this is horrible" to simply "It’s raining."

2. Take control of the moment

I couldn’t change the fact that it was raining, but I did choose to change my mindset. As soon as I walked out the front door and popped open my umbrella, I had thought, "This is going to be a horrible day. I hate the rain" and other negative thoughts about moisture.  

After surrendering to the moment at the bus stop, I took control of the moment and my mindset by focusing on what was logical, realistic, and positive.  

I pointed out to my inner critic that I did have an umbrella. I had my raincoat and cute rain boots on, too. And last but not least, my umbrella, coat, and rain boots color-coordinated with my work bag, which made my inner fashionista very happy.   

3. Zoom out from the moment

Stress, anxiety, and overwhelm translates to being caught up in the details. You're in the weeds. You're stuck in the minutiae. To combat anxiety symptoms, it's important to zoom out and look at things from a higher level.

At the very high level, we're living on a blue planet that revolves around a ball of fire in a galaxy that's hurling through space. This can certainly provide perspective about the rain and an anxiety disorder.   

RELATED: 3 Types Of Stress And Anxiety You Can (And Should) Avoid —​ And How To Get Rid Of Them

4. Breathe/self-soothe

Anxiety relief relies greatly on regaining your breathing. After I surrendered to the moment, took control of my moment in the rain, and zoomed out from the moment, I practiced a breathing exercise. This literally calms the nerves.  

When we’re anxious, we’re not usually breathing fully (you might notice this if you sigh a lot). Understandably, when you don’t breathe fully, not enough oxygen is entering the body and not enough carbon dioxide is being expelled.  

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In other words, it becomes harder to remain calm because our bodies are acting as if we’re supposed to be running away from a villain with an ax or from a tiger on the loose.  

So, I practiced my go-to breathing exercise and finished with some self-soothing. I thought, "It’s not going to be raining tomorrow and it’ll be better as soon as I get on the bus, on the subway, and into my office."

And voila! It wasn’t long before I was on my bus. Like I said earlier, I was a much happier camper by then.   

So, things like the rain, deadlines at work, and distressing new stories can only ruin your day if you allow them to.  

It could possibly be challenging to use any of these four tools in the beginning or when you’re experimenting with new coping strategies because you might not see immediate results.  

Like any new habit that you’re trying to adopt, baby steps over time will result in giant leaps. Using one, two, three, or four of these coping strategies will definitely be better than zero.  

And I will absolutely use all four of these coping strategies again the next time I find myself standing in the rain. 

RELATED: 9 Steps To Stop Overthinking When Your Mind Is Spinning Out Of Control

Dr. Joann Toporowski is a psychologist and anxiety coach who helps driven, successful, high-achieving executives and corporate employees with anxiety to be confident in the boardroom and relaxed in the bedroom. Learn more about her services by visiting her website.