The Real Struggle of Anxiety
The Anxiety Series
In my opinion, anxiety is one of the worst things to plague a person. It is sneaky, relentless, and all encompassing. It’s a pain point for mind, body, and soul.
For some of you who live with anxiety, I’d imagine I’m preaching to the choir.
If you live with anxiety, it is a major daily struggle – constantly nipping at your heels. But you’ll never outrun it.
You think: HOW THE HELL DID I GET HERE?
If you were anything like me, it snuck up on you.
Things that were once easy…like say – facilitating meetings at work – became anxiety inducing moments that I loathed to be asked to do.
It seems like for so many of us, the road to anxiety was short to reach, but its a long road to get rid of it. See, the truth is that the anxiety has been building up behind those doors we’ve kept so tightly closed within our minds, bodies, and hearts.
We chose to cram in whatever issue we didn’t want to face into the closet and slam the door closed, believing (hoping) that whatever it was would never seep out from the crevices. We threw away the key saying to ourselves that we were done with that “thing” and were going to just forget about it.
Well…our conscious self may have forgotten about it, but our subconscious had other plans.
Dear everyone, your subconscious can be incredibly more powerful than your conscious until you become a more conscious being overall.
Are you still with me?
So what can you do?
First, you need to realize that it will take powerful internal work to address anxiety. External solutions can be infinitely helpful as a temporary solution. In the desperate throes of postpartum depression and anxiety, I turned to Zoloft to keep myself from falling too far down the black hole. I needed the crutch to get myself to a temporary place of balance. But I KNEW it couldn’t stand alone as the cure all if I wanted to embrace the life I knew I deserved.
To make a sustainable change, it is my belief that it needs to come from within…a shifting of our beliefs in what we are truly capable of doing when it comes to our own healing and taking action to make sure it happens.
Dispelling anxiety from your life is a long road (one I’m still on), but here are some techniques that have really helped me transform the way anxiety shows up, how often, and what I can do to cope when it does rear its ugly head.
BREATHE : I know, I know, that whole “breathing” thing again. But wellness practitioners swear by it for a reason. Deep breathing brings you into the present moment, and so much of anxiety focuses on the past and the future (all those “what-ifs”). By focusing on your breath, you quiet the mind from spinning out of control and take back the moment.
MINDSET WORK : Limiting beliefs perpetuate anxiety. Fear perpetuates anxiety. We all know this, but somehow refuse to turn and address these issues head on. Well there’s no time like the present.
Being aware of your own personal limiting beliefs and fear is the first step towards kicking their asses. It will take time, it will take effort every single day. But each day you work on it, you get closer to your best self and away from being ruled by something like anxiety. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up one day (very soon) and say “Anxiety, I am the Queen of my castle, not you, not anyone else, now get the f**k out!” and then it promptly runs out the door screaming, FOR GOOD.
I dream of saying that to anxiety, fear, negativity, limiting beliefs – oh the list goes on. I’d rather invite into my castle: love, laughter, adventure, creativity, spiritual divinity. What about you?
The mind is powerful, but it is YOUR MIND. Ultimately, you decide where it should focus.
MEDITATION PRACTICE : People need to stop overcomplicating meditation. Grab an app on your phone, choose a guided version depending on what you want to focus on that day (maybe it’s just internal serenity), and sit for 5 minutes. Or 20. Start with what is doable for you where you are in your daily life. Meditation doesn’t have to be so woo woo (though I personally am into that direction of meditation). The [proven] positive impact of meditation is that it gives space for you to go inward and connect to yourself. In this place, one finds peace and clarity, natural deterrents of anxiety. Cultivating this practice will bring awareness — more of your subconscious self forward into your conscious being.
SIMPLIFY : Too much commitment in your life can lead to too much worry. You absolutely cannot do everything and nor should you put that kind of pressure on yourself. Anxiety feasts on pressure like a juicy tenderloin stuffed with roasted apples (well, except if you are vegetarian, then think of roasted root vegetables at the height of winter or whatever).
I’m going to give you a very quick way to simplify your life. Make a list of your top 10 values, be brutally honest. Start aligning everything in your life with these values. See what makes the cut and if it doesn’t, get rid of it. It’ll only lead you down a path that isn’t yours.
BODY MOVEMENT : Have you heard that emotion is “energy in motion”? When you allow excess energy build itself up in your body, you risk an explosion of emotion. One of those emotions that loves build up is anxiety.
I’m not telling you to run off to the gym everyday (no thanks!), but I will tell you to Shake. It. Off. However that looks for you. For me it is taking walks and dancing with my toddler (who can think about feeling anxious when an adorable tiny human is dancing next to you?). Just MOVE and RELEASE. Extra points for sweating, endorphins are natural terminators of anxiety.
REDUCE CAFFEINE : So I love me some coffee, but I’ve realized that too much jitters is just inviting anxiety to say “hello, thank you for warmly inviting me into your day.” Know your limit and if you need more of it to get through something, opt for caffeinated tea which has a less intense physical effect on your body and mind or half-caff or decaf (yep, I said it).
SAY IT OUT LOUD : There is a reason why talk therapy is so effective. As it is with expelling energy from your body through physical movement, the same is proven by the spoken word.
Have you ever kept a secret and it plagued the shit out of you incessantly?
By suppressing our emotions and thoughts, we create a mountain of cruddy residue in our proverbial closets. Here we give it power and it becomes baggage. Baggage loves to manifest as emotional explosions.
I love people who own their past and shout it out. It releases that power it has over oneself. If you are not ready to share it too openly, confide in someone (or a few someones). I promise you, talking it out will feel soooo good. It will also prevent those words from growing into anxiety.
POP THAT DAMN BALLOON and let the air out.
Anxiety puts your mind and body into a state of survival mode.
We all deserve and want to be in thriving mode.
Check out my Facebook Live on Anxiety and share your own experiences here:
*Photo Credit: Sarah Corneal Photography