How to Stop Anxious Feelings from Taking Control

It’s one of those days. I’m on holiday break so don’t have to go to work. Plus it’s snowing... a lot... so I have no plans of going anywhere. I figured I would do a movie marathon, and make a big pot of vegetable and beef soup. The soup thing happened and it was so, so good but movie thing? It took me all day to watch one movie.

What did I do instead of laying around watching movies all day? I honestly can’t tell you because I did about a hundred random things to try and distract myself from the thoughts that have been creeping up in my mind over the last few days. Thanks, anxiety.

I started a new medication about a week ago, an aromatase inhibitor, and the side effects are anything but great. I was prepared for the hot flashes because I’ve been having those for over a year. But, I wasn’t ready for the other side effects - headaches, fatigue, nausea, and bone/joint pain.

It’s the bone and joint pain that worries me the most. I work out almost every day and am running two marathons in 2019 - Grandma’s Marathon in June and the Chicago Marathon in October. I’m worried that these side effects aren’t going to go away. I’m worried that I won’t be able to train. I’m worried that I won’t be able to run.  

After sitting and stressing about this for most of the day, I decided to sit down and journal about it. My therapist gave me a guide for moments like these… similar to Cognitive Behavior Therapy, her guide helps me bring my thoughts back to a realistic place.

Psychology Today describes Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) as a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and thoughts. CBT focused on solutions, encouraging individuals to challenge distorted thoughts and change destructive patterns of behavior.

Her guide is in bold. Here’s how my journaling went:

Situation: I am struggling with the side effects of my new medication.

Automatic Thought: I am not going to be able to train and run the two marathons I signed up for. I am not going to be able to work out, which means I’ll have to find a new strategy for helping deal with my anxiety… which will in turn make me even more anxious until I find one. See where this is going?  

Believability of Automatic Thought (1-100%): I am 99.9% certain that I am not going to be able to train and run because these side effects are not going to go away.

Evidence for Automatic Thought: Feeling the way I do on this medication right now, I am going to be too sore and too tired to run. I am not going to feel good and won’t be in the mood to exercise.

Evidence Against Automatic Thought: I just started this medication.  It will take 4-6 weeks to really see how I respond to it. I trust my oncologist. He will have ideas for helping me manage these side effects. But, if these side effects are too bad, and my quality of life is impacted, he’ll have me try something else.   

New (Balanced) Thought: I need to give my body time to adjust to this medication. I can still train and run, but I just need to back off a bit on the intensity until I really know how this medication will affect me.

Believability of Automatic Thought (1-100%): Okay... there is like a 25% chance that my initial automatic thought is actually true.  

By dissecting evidence against my anxious thoughts, I not only challenge these thoughts but also create new (balanced) thoughts that are more realistic or likely to be true. And, in turn, hopefully get to enjoy more movie marathons!

Jill P.Comment