Yesterday, my therapist and I were talking about the physical experience of anxiety. Since high school, I've pictured my anxiety as a sort of green gaseous thing in my chest and neck. That's the thing on the left.The thing on the right is a glass vessel, which is (I hope obviously) shaped like a person. My therapist asked me to draw something to contain the anxiety, and that's what I came up with.
We talked about it for a little while -- I have a lot of things that function as vessels for stress. I have a datebook -- I had two with me at therapy, because one is about to end, so I've been filling in the second one -- and I have a blank white book filled with notes on things that make me feel better, less stressed, more psychologically grounded, and I have a folder in my Google Drive where all my short story work is carefully organized by numbers of drafts and submissions/rejections, and I just started a binder collecting my professional experience and qualifications all in one place, so it will be easier to look for a job.
I started to imagine the little glass figures as fragile little golems, whom I fill up with anxiety to work as a soul, all about one particular thing. Then those little golems go and try to solve the problem on their own, chipping away at it, bit by bit, and wearing down the anxiety. Unless they break, which does sometimes happen, and in which case all the anxiety comes rushing back to me.
I don't know if this is the healthiest possible way to think about anxiety, but the mental image is helping me out a lot right now. And also it's pretty cool, to think of little glass golems filled with blue-green smoke, taking care of my long-term life planning while I get on with the stuff that I can handle on my own.