Anxiety has been part of my life since childhood. I was always a chronic over-thinker and people pleaser that was terrified of standing out in the crowd or breaking a rule. These fears ruled my life for as long as I can remember.
Those who have experienced anxiety understand how paralyzing it can be. Everyday tasks can feel impossible. In my case, anxiety often didn’t make sense. There was no logical reason to be feeling this way. This belief brought up a lot of shame and frustration within my body and mind. Constantly exhausted trying to hide my fears and anxiety from the world was so hard.
Up until last summer I was stuck and constantly exhausted from trying to fight anxiety and beat the feelings into submission. Mental health is something that isn’t “one size fits all” so it’s important to be mindful of what works for me may not work for you.
It’s important to share my experience in case someone else may find a connection with what I am speaking about. These are just some of the tactics that helped me make some of the biggest shifts.
Watch your language
This is something that I thought was so interesting, it’s such a simple switch. For as long as I can remember I would make anxiety part of my identity. “It’s my anxiety” or “I have anxiety.” I decided to shift my language around it though and see what happened. Starting to think “I feel anxious” or “I feel anxiety in my stomach” allowed me to be more focused on the sensations rather than becoming overwhelmed by all the fears and thoughts that came along with it.
Be aware of your emotions – no judgments
I firmly believe emotions tell us a story but often we are trained to believe it’s bad to feel sad, angry or anxious (or whatever emotion feels shameful to you). Emotions are neutral, they are simply here to highlight areas you may need more healing or areas where you are in alignment. When certain emotions make me feel uncomfortable I remind myself that it’s okay to feel what I feel. It makes a huge difference.
Remember to breathe
When we get stuck in high anxiety state we often forget to breathe. In the moments when you are in a heightened state, it can feel impossible to slow down your breathing. Breath-work has been such a powerful tool to help move out anxiety or other emotions. There are many kinds of breathing exercises you can tap into. They have been really powerful in getting emotions out of my body.
Trust that you are enough
I tried all the things to “fix myself.” I had a deep belief that there was something wrong with me for simply experiencing anxiety. Anxiety is a very natural emotion and sensation. It keeps you safe from danger, but sometimes it can go into overdrive. Once I realized that I wasn’t broken the healing felt a lot easier. I was able to get into a space where I was able to notice my thoughts, behaviors, and fears.
Understand that your anxiety is telling you a story
I now see how anxiety was trying to show me where I wasn’t living the life I wanted. In my situation anxiety often showed up when I pushed myself to fit into a box that I wasn’t meant to fit in. It was also something that came when I started to push myself out of my comfort zone. Allowing this belief meant that I could be friends with anxiety rather than trying to fight it all the time. I know that it will be part of life but now I don’t fear it in the same way.
It took me time to get to this state. It came with trying out all kinds of healing- from talk therapy, medication to more alternative options. There’s a lot of trial and error when it comes to releasing control and breaking up with anxiety. This experience has been profoundly powerful and allowed me to see how much I could learn about myself through it.
Our healing is ongoing and it’s not something that we can avoid. For those that are feeling stuck, I see you and understand the pain that comes with that.