My journey with anxiety has been as long as I can remember.
But I didn’t realize it, until I was I was in my mid thirties.
Deep down I knew something was off, but I didn’t want to admit it.
You see, I thought everyone was going around life with a pit in their stomach feeling like their heart was going to beat out of their chest.
You know that feeling you get when you’re in a rush? When you just can’t get ahead?
Or when you’re just waiting for something bad to happen, because life has been too good?
That was me every day.
That was my baseline.
Sure I knew that it wasn’t normal for me to occasionally keel over on the side of my bed, with chest pain that made me unable to take a full breath.
But my day-to-day anxiety was something I didn’t think was an issue.
I had felt that way my whole life.
I didn’t know any different.
About four years ago. Things started to feel unmanageable. I decided to talk to my doctor.
My reactions were, well… VERY reactive.
My chest was pounding more and more.
I constantly felt like I couldn’t get ahead, even when I had nothing to do.
I was sensitive. Really sensitive.
I felt like everyone was against me.
I had irrational worries that people in my life were going to leave me.
When my husband would be late from work, I was sure he was dead.
The doctor told me to start meditating, go to therapy and start exercising more.
But I was already doing that.
A month later I went back and advocated for myself.
She started me on anxiety meds that day.
I am always reluctant to talk about my mediation for anxiety because I don’t want people to think that it is this blanket solution.
You don’t pop a pill and you’re good to go.
During my podcast interview with Gabby Bernstein, we had a really great conversation about anxiety medication.
She said that the medication is an opportunity.
It brings you to a new baseline where you have the capacity to do the inner work on what’s triggering the anxiety in the first place.
“When you become willing and safe enough to allow your subconscious emotions to come to the surface for healing, then your life will change forever.”
– Gabby Bernstein
For me, diving into my anxiety has been about figuring out what was really going on with me.
What was my body telling me?
If you’re struggling with anxiety, you need to ask yourself:
Why don’t you feel safe?
What are you scared of?
What are you trying to protect yourself from feeling?
I could go on, but the point of this particular post is to share some strategies that have helped me deal with my anxiety.
I do believe everyone is different. Everyone’s experience with anxiety is different. It shows up in different ways, and on different levels for different people.
For me I know that if I don’t stay on top of my anxiety my anxiety will get on top of me. It’s not pretty when that happens.
Here are some practices that help keep me in check.
Therapy can be a life line. Listen to any podcast with a guest who has gone through massive growth and life change. They all talk about how therapy has helped them.
There are so many great therapists… but if you’re struggling with where to start, BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that I have been using lately. I cannot say enough good things about them.
Get 10% off your first month at www.betterhelp.com/stepmom
I know this can feel overwhelming for people. When I first started mediating, I didn’t think it was for me. I thought I needed to shut my brain off to “do it right”. In reality, its simply being still and trying to control your mind. I started small. 5 minutes with some soft music and breathing. I would notice my thoughts and try to focus on my breathing.
Now I am up to 20-30 minutes. I’m not worried about doing it right or wrong. For me, it’s about being in stillness. Doing nothing but being there. It’s this really great way to reset when I feel overwhelmed OR how I start the day.
I like the guided meditations, you can find them on headspace or through the Calm app. There are also so many meditations on Spotify.
Speaking of meditation, I am a huge fan of NuCalm. NuCalm helps me neutralize stress, restore sleep and elevate my performance. I’m going to link it here if you’re interested in checking out the science behind it. But in short, it’s clinically proven to naturally relax the brain and body within minutes without drugs.
You put on your headphones, the the eye mask and a NuCalm Bio-signal Processing Disc and turn on the software through your app to enjoy.
Whenever I am camped up, unable to focus, or feeling especially anxious, I pop on NuCalm and it reduces my stress and helps me reset.
Use code JAMIE10 for 10% off your subscription
Get outside, get some vitamin 10, throw on a podcast and get those steps in. I aim for 10 000 steps a day.
This is like therapy and it’s free.
MINIMIZE SCREEN TIME
If I am feeling anxious, the last thing I need to be doing is scrolling through social media.
However it’s the thing I want to do.
When I am feeling especially anxious, I delete Instagram off my phone until I am in a better space. This prevents me from mindless popping on.
The stimulation, the comparison, the light, the noise – it can be all too much. When I am experiencing anxiety, I need to focus my energy on dealing with the anxiety. Nothing else.
I use the do not disturb and airplane mode on my phone several times throughout the day. I try not to go onto social media until I am set up for the day, and also am off around 7 or 8 at night.
LISTEN TO MY BODY
This year I’m making a point to become more in tune with my body and really listen to what it’s telling me. If I’m feeling triggered or activated, I will stop and ask ”what do you need right now”.
Taking even two minutes to reset, deep breathe or to bring things back to perspective (eg. asking myself is the story I am telling myself true? What true for me right now? Does this really matter?) has been really powerful.
No matter how busy you are, you ca take two to three minus to reset. Even if you excuse yourself, go to the bathroom and give yourself some self talk.
Talk to yourself like you’d talk to your best friend.
Have a real conversation about what is going on.
Ask yourself questions like
Is the story I am telling myself true? What is true for me right now?
Does this really matter? What am I scared of?
What will I do if that actually happens?
Pep talks with yourself are really powerful.
Journalling out the questions I shared above can be really powerful. I find releasing the thoughts and anxiety is like a clearing of the negative energy that is keeping us feeling anxious.