Sh*t, I completely forgot to send that work email. Now it looks like I can’t get even the smallest thing right. It’s 7:05 and I was supposed to leave at 7:00 – maybe I can’t get even the tiniest things right. My partner notices it too… am I going to get dumped? Not if I start gyming again! Ugh be real – when was the last time I stepped foot in the gym? What’s the point if I don’t eat right anyway? Why am I so constipated? No wonder I haven’t been sleeping well, and with lifestyle-related diseases in my family history, I’m a ticking time bomb! Oh my gosh, I’m dying, aren’t I?
No, you aren’t – but you do need to untangle your anxiety.
*cue a panic attack*
While seemingly a little dramatic, this shame and anxiety spiral might look a little (or very) familiar to you. It might even be comforting to feel like someone just took a snapshot in your head because it means at least you’re not the only crazy around here. In reality, anxiety is a VERY real part of many of our days. And for some of us, it can be debilitating.
In the body anxiety can present itself in a multitude of ways, here are a few of them:
Sometimes it honestly feels like your only option is to hide away and never come out or scream until you have no voice left. But these anxiety attacks have taught me two important lessons:
It is in these moments, I realize that this is what it takes in order to see the greatness of everything else.
It is in these moments I realize, without them, I would not be able to appreciate how clear other moments can be.
But even these realizations didn’t stop these debilitating moments from coming. I decided I needed to develop some ways (many of which I picked up along the way). To keep these realizations front of mind and keep these anxiety attacks from happening so frequently.
Read, relish, and take away the ones that feel right for you. Know that there is no single tip that’ll be the answer to our quarreling minds. These are simply a few tools that I use to help me along my daily path to manage my anxiety:
You feel that wave, it’s swelling so high it’s threatening to swallow you and everything you love about yourself whole. This is going to be the hardest but most important step in quelling that anxiety: Stop.
Stop. Everything. Right. Now.
Don’t talk. Not run. Or hide.
Realize you were probably holding your breath now give a big outward sigh. Next, inhale and take seven deep breaths. Some longer exhale breathing always helps me in these situations and it’s such an easy tool to learn, remember, and turn to:
It’s that simple. But it’s amazing what just a couple of minutes of calming the sympathetic “fight-flight-or-freeze” nervous system and activating the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” nervous system can do in a moment of freak-out.
A very wise mentor of mine said: if thinking got you to where you needed to go you’d be there and back, you need to get out of your head and into your body. And that’s what I’m telling you to do: Pick a movement-based activity you enjoy: Run, yoga, swim. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you get the heart rate up.
Bonus points if you manage to break a sweat. Somehow moving and sweating gives us a little perspective. It reminds us that we are alive and that everything is ultimately going to be okay.
We are primed for balance, so when the mind is racing and the body is still – bringing the body up to the mind’s speed can actually help slow down the mind (or at least it feels that way). Sweat just feels so renewing, doesn’t it? It feels like it’s cleaning out the body and clearing up whatever is clogging up the mind.
The fastest way to realize your world is not ending is to take a scary and bold action. There’s never a better time for growth and development than in a time of despair. So how about amidst this anxiety you ask: What scares you right now?
Close your eyes and see your fear in your mind’s eye. You know what I’m going to say next right? DO IT ANYWAY. Maybe it’s the belief system that really needs to change. So shock your system into believing that there is always something on the other side. Happiness. Clarity. Love. Life. You will never know how far you can jump unless you take that first step.
Put it on paper. Get it all out in the open what you’d never want out in the open. It feels like we’re constantly vetting our thoughts for others but sometimes even for ourselves. There’s no space for that in journaling. This is your time to let it all flow out uninhibited. After you’ve let it all flow you often find yourself naturally problem-solving on paper too.
By working it out on paper you can take a third-person perspective on whatever it is that your mind is trying to work out. You’re often able to think outside the box because you got out of that very dark and limiting box yourself.
Making an idea concrete by putting it on paper will allow you to then reflect on it in the future and hopefully will help you realize that maybe the fears, the what ifs, the ideas that were consuming you – never came close to being true anyway.
It’s important to remember that not all of our anxiety stems from our head. Poor gut health can lead to a cascade of issues in our body. A leaky gut often is a root cause of autoimmune disease and inflammation in the body. Too much “bad bacteria” can lead to estrogen dominance in the bloodstream. And all of those things can lead to a lack of serotonin and dopamine (the “happy feeling” neurotransmitters) that is being created and circulated in our body – as science has now shown that these hormones are actually produced IN the gut and not in the head, as once perceived by early psychologists.
By healing your gut, you are tapping into the world’s greatest bio-hack for anxiety and overwhelm.
Google Earth your position on the globe. I know it’s weird but just do it.
Zoom out. Slowly. First, see the roof of your house. Then your neighborhood, take a moment to notice the placement of your house in relation to your neighbors. Then see your town. Acknowledge how small your living room seems when compared to your state, then compared to your country. Then see where you are on this planet and how your placement compares to the rest of the Earth. Then keep zooming out. See our Solar System. Are you getting the picture? The BIG picture?
I am always amazed at how truly the most minute things can set me off into a spiral of oblivion. When I physically see and take in how beautifully small I am in comparison to, well everything. Those small things don’t seem to be quite so life-altering.
I try to remember to do the same when I look into the night sky when there isn’t too much light pollution around. There’s nothing more humbling than staring up at an uncountable number of gas balls, most of which are bigger than the entire planet I live on. I stare up and I realize some of the stars I’m looking at aren’t even alive. And before I know it – I won’t be either. And if this factor causing me anxiety is not something linked to my joy, standard of living, or loved ones. I let it float away along with the realization of my own mortality. For tomorrow I’ll have forgotten and probably get stressed again, but each time I seem to get a little better at smiling, exhaling, and not sweating the small stuff.
I hope you can add at least one of these into your toolbox of life or at the very least remember to keep looking at what matters in life.
In gut health and abundance,
Chelsea interviews professionals to bring YOU today’s most updated knowledge on nutrition and wellness.