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On the penultimate day of this challenge, much of what I learnt over the past ten days had culminated into this powerful force of positivity. It was as if this energy had lain dormant within me and had re-surfaced.
In turn, I felt this wave wash over me of calmness and clarity, and found myself, with no hesitation, no panic attacks, outside!
Now, I would like to preface this optimistic opening with a few points.
- Anxiety, as I have been told, is like a muscle. Most phobias (as long as they don’t run too deep and require more in-depth clinical treatment) are essentially a practiced behaviour. You practice avoiding the thing you’re afraid of by running away from it, and so strengthen the connections in your brain that make you perform that response. It makes sense that after pushing myself and fighting that instinct, I would feel better about avoiding it, however…
- That does not mean my anxiety has disappeared. It simply means I’ve learnt how to manage it better, and how to re-frame those anxious thoughts so that I feel them less intensely. I will still have bad days. That day just happened to be a good day.
While I was outside, to strengthen my aforementioned anxiety-muscle, I was practicing what I had learnt, When I felt those anxious feelings bubble in my stomach or the lump close in my throat, I reminded myself that I was safe and nothing was going to happen to me, that people weren’t looking at me and judging me. The more times I repeated this and proved myself right, the easier every step felt.
I was incredibly surprised when I actually decided to take out my headphones and be present with everything around me.
It wasn’t as if I was walking in new surroundings, it was my same-old neighbourhood with the same-old few familiar faces, and same-old houses. But, the penultimate lesson AgoraPoetry taught me, was that the more present you are, the more new and exciting things can look, not necessarily because you’re being presented with new stimuli each time, but because you’re noticing and appreciating those surroundings.
So, on my way home, I stopped at my usual crossing and as always, turned my head right then left before going forward. But, I stopped. I looked up and paused. I craned my neck, and there, was this amazing tree that someone had grown right out on their front driveway (which is incredibly uncommon in the UK fyi). I had never noticed it before, never noticed how green, how tall it stood. My mind felt so calm and clear; all I could focus on was this tree. And so, I stopped, snapped a photo, and made my way home, happier and healthier than when I’d left.