Sometimes, The Only Strategy is DIB…
As Anxiety Sisters, we are big believers in not allowing anxiety to take over our lives. In fact, we spend most of our time trying to teach others strategies to allow them to function well despite anxiety. But we are nothing if not realists. Sometimes, no strategy, no amount of effort, no medicine, and no mantras will work. There are days we could breathe deeply while taking an ice bath and repeating “this too shall pass” after taking a Xanax blessed by the Dali Lama and we would still have crushing anxiety.
Occasionally, it is okay to give into the anxiety, and ride it out from the safety of your bed. This is especially true in the beginning of your anxiety experiences, before you have learned what strategies work for you. However, even we anxiety veterans still need to Dive Into Bed (DIB) on occasion. In fact, as long as you follow some DIB guidelines, a few hours or even a full day in bed can be incredibly therapeutic.
Why do we have DIB guidelines? Because if not used with caution, DIB can be a segue to persistent avoidance behaviors which can result in Shrinking World Syndrome (SWS). Yes, we like to use initials — LOL.
- Do not DIB 2 days in a row. Or even 2 days in a week. It’s too easy to make it a habit. (We know this from experience.) If you cannot stop DIBing, you need to seek help ASAP (there’s those initials again).
- Reserve DIB as your emergency option—when you know all other options have been exhausted (or will be useless).
- Try not to DIB during important life events (a friend’s wedding–or your own), a funeral, the day of a trip departure, etc. These are the times we most feel like DIBing, however, if you DIB on those days, it becomes much harder to “get back to normal.” If at all possible (and we know this is no small task), drag yourself out of bed and show up, even if you feel and look like a wreck. Being there counts. And it shows you that anxiety does not get to run your life. Of course, if you do need to DIB…try to do it for only an hour and then get going—no matter what you look like. (Mags once wore sweat pants to an important and dressy event with my family—it wasn’t pretty, but she was there.) Tell yourself to get to the event and that you can DIB as soon as it’s over.
- Don’t feel guilty about diving into bed. It is part of the anxiety condition and happens to all of us from time to time. However, if you are DIBing frequently, take it as a sign that you need more help in managing your anxiety.