Anxiety: A topic I have yet to really cover, though it haunted me my entire life (until this year). Since I can remember, I have had what I now know to be anxiety, in the form of: abnormal thoughts and energy, fast breathing (or no breathing), indecision, ups and downs in mood, paralysis, etc. When I started my "health" journey years ago, I don't think I even truly realized how bad my anxiety was. Now, looking back , I see just how much it crippled me. To this day, I occasioanlly feel anxious and second-guess myself...but the difference now is that I PLOW through it. When I realize I am being indecisive or shy, feel as though I'm not good enough, or can feel the anxious tingles inside, I'm literally like "f*ck this"... and continue about my day. More often than not I actually go out of my way to take whatever action my brain wanted to be anxious about-just to make a point. More importantly, though, I recenter and become present.
Because I have changed my life in ways I never thought I would (and never even knew I needed to) I felt obliged to share with you the practices and tools I use to keep the anxiety at bay. You don't have to do all of them daily. In fact, you could utilize ONE of these tools a day and feel results. You could also utilize them all and feel results. Find what works for you, then say "thanks for the opinion but BYE" to the voice in your head, and take on life. Here we go.
TOOLS&PRACTICES TO FIGHT ANXIETY:
Meditation. This is in the number 1 spot for a reason. Meditation has single-handedly changed my life, and if I only had time for ONE self-care practice everyday- this would be it (well this and a walk might be tied). Meditation helped me disconnect from the insanely fast and ever-flowing stream of thoughts going on in my head. It made me realize that 98% of the time I was living in the future-worrying about things that MIGHT (but never did) end up happening. Meditation brings you into the moment, into your body, and into your breath. You quiet your mind. You become the OBSERVER of your thoughts, and realize YOU are NOT your thoughts or feelings. On the questionnaire that my clients fill out before our first session, I ask if they meditate, because I know this one practice alone will help them change their world.
Movement. Ahhhh, exercise. Endorphins. Release. Depending on the day, I will either get in a kick-ass HIIT class,a Spin class, take a walk, or go to yoga. I actually took a yin/restorative yoga class the other night that FORCED me to be grounded and calm, and it changed the whole trajectory of my week. Find a movement you love (if you're pissed or miserable the whole time... well what good is that?) and get to it.
Breathing. Isn't it funny how unaware we are of our breath when it's quite literally the one constant in our lives from the moment we are born until the moment we enter the non-physical? Anyways, being aware of our breath is major key. When I am anxious, for example, my heart is beating far more quickly then when I am not. My favorite way to slow down my breathing and tame my anxiety is by doing this: *Inhale for 4-6 seconds. Hold breath in at the top for 4-6 seconds. Release the breath for 4-6 seconds. Repeat as many times as you would like. I recommend at least a repetition of 3. (I do 6 seconds, but I started at 4 seconds).* You can also play with different breath retention techniques, just take a few deep belly breaths(breathe in and fill up the bell, breathe out and draw it in towards the spine), alternate nostril breathing, etc....Google is quite handy if you wanna play around with this.
Talking to someone. Because our society tends to love the whole "grin and bear it" thing, I used to think there was strength is never showing emotion and dealing with everything on my own. Now, however, I believe the opposite to not only be true, but also far more efficient for a happy life. Talk to a friend. Talk to a family member. Talk to a Coach. Talk to anyone who you feel safe with, and tell them exactly how you are feeling. Talking to others helps you see the "stories" you are telling, helps them call you out on your BS, and helps you realize just how magnified little problems become in our heads. The moment I began to voice to my girlfriend everytime I over-thought eating or choosing a food, the more I realized how insane it was to even be wasting the slightest bit of energy on it.
L8R Caffeine. Caffeine just doesn't help anything when you are anxious. Period. If you are anxious but tired (it seems oxymoronic, but if you have anxiety you know that it's possible), opt for a lightly caffeinated tea or even just some trail mix with dark chocolate...and for the record: I was once that coffee drinker who would think "Ya, easy for you to say to just eat some nuts and healthy chocolate instead"...but it really is life changing to minimize (cut out) coffee intake.
Get outdoors. I am not sure if there is a better way to bring us back to the present and help us remember that we are simply humans who are meant to live and love and be happy than by getting fresh air. Walk down the street. Drive to the closest hiking trail or bike path on the weekend. Go to the beach (my favorite) and listen to the waves. Become, quite literally, grounded. Become a part of the Earth and the world again, not just a part of your mind.
Cut the Sh.........oulds.... Stop saying "I should" and "I have to." Nothing will make ya not wanna do something more than those statements. And while you might be thinking "But Casey, it's true. I have to do work. I should be going to the gym more," I believe you -I do too- but don't make a big production out of it. Focus more on get your vibes and your mood up, then just flow. When you focus early on in the day on making yourself happy, the work will get done in a far more effective manner. Waking up and thinking about everything you "have to do" that day and getting all worked up before even getting in your car? Not useful. (This also goes for working out and eating salads. Eat and move intuitively rather than telling yourself you "should" eat something or "need" to go workout.)
Being Self-Aware. Our bodies memorize feelings and thoughts, and when we try to veer off the beaten path of said feelings, our cells do whatever they can to get us back to our "norm." So, if you have experienced anxiety for 20 years, your body is literally programed and wired to feel as such. It takes practice and awareness to realize that you are not in fact anxious -you are just used to it- and to keep on keeping on with your newly instilled positive vibes. When you can become aware enough of the thoughts and emotions holding you back, you can literally just keep doing your thing- no matter what chaos might be going on in your bod and your head. Separate yourself from anxiety, because it is not you and you are not it. It is a temporary state that you can change, but change takes practice. *Meditation = The best way to disconnect from thoughts and feelings,remember.*
Doing something that fulfills your purpose. Notice I said YOUR purpose. Not your comanpy's purpose. Not your friend's purpose. YOUR purpose. When we are constantly suppressing our calling and what we are on this planet for, of course we are going to feel anxious and antsy and agitated. Tune in to your intuition and follow it-it will never lead you astray.
In summary and like I said, I know I put a bunch of tools, so don't feel like you have to do all of them daily,...but definitely try out a few and see what works. Your mind will totally fight it for a little bit, just as it would fight you getting back in the gym after a 2 month workout hiatus, but it is well worth the cognitive dissonance to change your life.
As always I hope this was helpful, and should you have any questions or comments leave a line below or shoot me an email!