At first, when I thought about writing this post I recognized this need, or maybe this place that’s difficult to translate – between the people who suffer from anxiety and the people who don’t. How can I articulate to someone who’s relatively anxiety free (because we all get anxious about some stuff) what anxiety feels like for me, and how it effects my life? And if in sharing that it helps someone understand with more compassion what someone who they care about is going through then boom, I’ve hit the sweet spot.
For me, getting anxious is like having this tattoo that I never realized I was getting and won’t ever completely go away. It will always be there. Part genetic predisposition, part stressful health debacles, and part perfectionistic Katie, combine to mean one thing: I suffer from anxiety.
I know exactly how it feels to have a panic attack (I’ve had just one), but that was also a gift in my life because I know *without a doubt* when my body starts to work itself up to that place. And now, I have mind body tools like breathing techniques and tapping that I KNOW work. Being armed with these calming techniques has been revolutionary for me; it’s 100% empowering.
Have I learned how to drastically reduce the amount of times in my life that I get anxious? Oh yea! Yoga, EFT (tapping), meditation, time in nature, and a cleaner diet have all revolutionized the way I deal with my anxiety. At MOST points in the past few years of my life, I truly felt anxiety free.
But life isn’t smooth sailing, and when I hit an obstacle, or a speed bump, or I’m simply failing to take the necessary risks to achieve my dreams, I feel the familiar creeping of anxiety back into my life. I’ll grind my teeth. I’ll lose my appetite or crave only sugar. I’ll get shaky. I’ll catch myself dipping into automatic negative thoughts about situations that seem to all run together. One worry, to the next, to a worry so completely unrelated to the last that I’m baffled as to how my mind has drawn a connection between the two at all.
Has medication helped? Yes. And then No. I know plenty of people who lead much happier daily lives because of medication, and I’m glad it’s an option. If someone you care about needs to take it: trust them (they know their body) and honor that. Zero stigma.
For me the medication question, brings up a really important fundamental belief I have about the gift of anxiety: If you are not living your truth, if you are not sharing the gifts you know you have, if you are not speaking up about something that’s eating away at you – anxiety will and can take the reigns in your life. My goal is always to acknowledge the listen in the anxiety, before moving to try and cover it up.
Stressful events cause otherwise “cool as a cucumber” folks to get anxious. True, some people have a more natural predisposition, but my point here is that we can all fall victim to anxiety at some points in our lives, so practicing compassion is a must. Telling someone to calm down or lighten up makes them feel like a failure for not being able to reign it in, but asking someone what usually helps them to feel calmer and offering them a glass of water or a quick walk around the building means you can acknowledge what they’re feeling.
Our bodies so badly want us to be our true selves, to push past limiting beliefs and live from our core self. Yet it’s so easy to become who someone else wants us to be, to keep quiet and stay put, or to simply turn a blind eye when we realize the path we’re walking isn’t really where we want to be.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the film “Eat, Pray, Love” because mastering our thoughts is something that we can ALL get behind.
You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
2.) The #polarvortex makes me miss living in Florida. A WHOLE LOT! Thank goodness for tea, Yogi Throat Coat Honey Lemon is my favorite lately. Plus, this bouncing up and down in weather temperatures is super hard on our bodies. FREEZING to fifty degrees is not something our bodies know how to deal with well. Be kind and add some lemon to your water, ginger in your smoothie or something along those lines. Your body will love you for it.
3.) This poem: “Dear Human” by Courtney Walsh. A reminder that life is so far from perfect, and that’s what it was designed to be. That’s where the beauty lives.