Anxiety. I said it. We all feel it, whether it’s obvious for you, or not right now. The world is reactive. WE are reactive because that energy is contagious. While planning and preparing is helpful……worry is not. Worry gives us a false sense of preparation when in fact it does nothing but set us up for unnecessary pain.
Yoga teaches us to live in the present moment. That you never actually have a problem in the present moment. We’re either anxious about the future, or regretful about the past. The time and space right now has many of us alternating between these two extremes and many are ignoring all the things that are good right now. We are spending time in worry…..when we could be enjoying all that is good.
Worry puts us in fight or flight……when there is no real imminent danger. If you’re a constant worrier, imagine the fatigue that your body is facing. Stress can be a helpful emotion when there is real immediate danger. We need that sudden influx of energy and chemicals to send us sprinting away from the danger. Think of saving a child from an accident or running from a wild animal….we need a lot of energy to successfully avoid a big problem.
When we worry (even over little things), that worry sends the same chemical responses to our body that the bear attack does, slowly but surely using up all of our precious energy that we need for real and immediate problems. We simply can not live in this state forever. It drains us.
Eventually, if we spend a lot of time in this stress state, it can turn into anxiety. The body becomes so used to dealing with constant stress that it makes it its go-to permanent state. The body thinks, “wow, there is danger all around me at all times, so I better make sure that my person is on high alert!”
I never understood anxiety. Friend would say that they couldn’t go out that night because they were feeling anxious. I didn’t get it. I thought they could just push through it. I didn’t get it, until I experienced it…..and it was horrible. I began to have anxiety attacks after a long bout of depression. I was in a high stress state for years, leaving me burnt out and eventually depressed. I kept myself really busy, to deal with the feelings of not feeling well. That busyness only added more stress and eventually led to the feelings of panic, first thing in the morning, and during moments that I should have enjoyed.
I’m sorry everyone. Everyone who I didn’t understand. I get you now.
The good news is. I don’t have it anymore. I have control over it. And came via lifestyle changes, education around what anxiety is…..and good technique. You can disagree with me, but I don’t believe for a second that anxiety is a life long sentence. Once I learned how to slow down, drop some things on my full plate and learn how RELAX….the anxiety went away.
My teacher Abbie Galvin used to say “you don’t want to learn how to swim when you’re drowning in the ocean.” If you don’t train yourself daily and strengthen your techniques to handle stress, you’re in a big pickle when big life events surprise you. Practice your stress reducing techniques daily so you can handle the world.
How do you get yourself out of constant worry?
1) Ground yourself first:
How you start your day will determine the rest of your day. Wake, water, meditate, write or yoga will drastically enhance your day. Wake, worry, caffeine, social media, emails and news……will crush you.
2) Practice mindfulness:
Notice emotions in the body. What do they feel like? What does stress feel like in the body? Where do you feel it? The more you are able to tap into physical sensations, the quicker you will be able to respond and get yourself out of unnecessary stress states.
Notice the third cup of coffee, the stress eating, the yelling or any maladaptive behaviours that are tied to the stress response. Ask yourself if you really want to do these things and if they’re helpful.
Practice pranayama. Even 5 minutes a day will change you and recalibrate your central nervous system to better handle life’s stressors.
4) Watch your poisons:
Media, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gossip, overeating, overworking, poor sleep, poor company, etc can all lead to a very anxious you.
5) Add your vitamins:
Positive thinking, faith, affirmations, writing, meditation, yoga, movement, nature, nutrition, vitamins, water, good supportive company will save you.
Remember that “I am just an anxious person” is a lie. No one is born this way. We learn these behaviours. And the good news is….they can be unlearned. Practice good techniques daily and you can handle this….ALL of this.
“Your emotions are important, you should have them, but they are not a good source of measure. You have better techniques than that.” – Abbie Galvin
6) Recognize it’s impermanence. This might be the most important one. Recognize that you are not these feelings. Recognize that these feelings are temporary and ownership of them….only makes it worse.
The thing is, anxiety gets us stuck in a loop of believing that there is something wrong with us. Something that needs to be fixed. As someone who suddenly started experiencing anxiety attacks in my 30s, I know that terrible feeling and the thought process we get looped in.
The most important thing I’ve realized about anxiety…is it’s not a big existential crisis. It’s a physical sensation in the body. A physical sensation that has become the norm in our bodies….because we live in high alert at all times.
Simply finding more ways in which you can decrease your:
And finding more ways in which you can increase your:
WILL decrease both the frequency and severity of your anxiety attacks.
Know that it is within you, to mitigate your anxiety. It’s not to say that doctors and medicine can’t help…they can, it’s to remind you that you are more powerful than you may realize and there are many lifestyle changes that you can take to help yourself.
I recommend courses by Dr. Judd Brewer for the neuroscience behind anxiety. He’s got some great apps that can help you retrain your mind and get you feeling better soon.
With grace and grit,