May 26, 2022
Today’s podcast episode was a common request in my 100 podcast episodes post, so I thought I’d cover this topic today. It’s also something that I feel has been magnified in some way or another for the past few years, so think it’s a relevant topic for this week.
Today, I’m chatting about my experience with anxiety and some of the things that have helped me over time. PLEASE keep in mind that I’m not a therapist or a doctor. This is not medical advice and I’m just sharing my experience. If you struggle with anxiety or any mental health issues (or if you just want to chat to a trusted third party who can give you advice!) seek out the help of a local certified therapist. I always lurk the reviews online when we first move to a new place. You deserve to feel great; please seek out the help you need to feel better!!
As a first-born Type A perfectionist, I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I had a TV in my room and would fall asleep watching the news sometimes, which is the perfect way to brew some worry and anxiety. There was also some transition in our family, since my parents got divorced when I was in kindergarten, and I’ve just always been a worrier. My anxieties and worries have ranged from very mild, like deadlines, wanting specific details to be perfect, or wondering if someone is mad at me, to much bigger things, like a husband who was abroad fighting in a war (four times!), a baby with severe reflux who had stopped breathing on a couple of occasions, health concerns, and family stuff.
Something that has always helped me, no matter what I was going through: therapy.
I’ve been blessed to see some incredible therapists in my lifetime and think it can be SO helpful to have one in your back pocket, even if you don’t see them super regularly. It can feel a little weird and awkward at first, but I always leave each session feeling lighter, relieved, and like I have a plan.
I wanted to note first that while NOTHING can replace traditional therapy, there are also some strategies that have also helped:
- Exercise! The key is to do this in a way where you can recover easily and you aren’t perpetuating a constant flight or fight response in the body. Think about your personal “stress bucket,” and make sure that exercise isn’t the thing tipping it over. If you’re an anxious person, I would shift focus from intense and high-impact workouts (like bootcamp workouts and CrossFit), to more low-impact options like yoga, barre, walking, Pilates, moderate strength training, or dance.
- Bringing myself to the present moment. What are 3 things I can see? What are 3 things I can hear? What are 3 things I can touch?
- Scheduled worry time each day.
- Meditation. This is also tied to breathing. Shallow breathing can increase our heart rate and lead to increased feelings of anxiety.
- A daily walk, in the sun.
- Unloading all of your worries into a journal each night.
- Paying attention to fueling my body.
- Sleeping at least 8 hours. If you need sleep tips, check out Sleep Smarter.
- Delegating as many things as possible, as a decreased task load and mental to-do list can potentially decrease anxiety. What can you take off your plate so you longer have to think about it? For myself, it’s usually things like extra help with the kids when I have work deadlines, house cleaning, and certain meal prep items. What can you do to make your life easier?
- Scheduling joy into my day. It’s SO easy to get wrapped up into the to-do list, chores, kid stuff, work life, that you get to bedtime and realize you’ve literally been working all day. It helps my anxiety immensely when I take 30 minutes each day to do something I enjoy, like read a book, sit on the patio and chat with the Pilot, play a board game or bake something with the girls, play the ukulele, etc. It seems counterintuitive, but when I have a little *fun* during the day, I’m SO much more productive during my work blocks.
- Focusing on gratitude. Even when things feel hard and ridiculous, there’s always something to be thankful for. When I shift my focus to gratitude, I feel more calm throughout the day. Every day, after I meditate, I write down three things that I’m thankful to have in my life. It takes less than 1 minute, and makes a huge difference in my day.
So tell me, friends: do you experience anxiety? What are some of the things you’ve found to help?