The projects and commitments we undertake are extraordinary. How to find balance in the midst of it all.
For years I told myself I didn’t have anxiety. I took full responsibility for depression, but in my eyes anxiety was represented by my mom, who had full blown anxiety almost every minute of every day. Since mine was different, I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and proudly told myself, I’m not anxious.
I was in denial.
Even though I’d wake up in the middle of the night in a panic about this or that going on in my life unable to go back to sleep, until I “figured it out.” Ha. Basically exhausting myself with overthinking it to death.
Even though I experienced anxiety at every major upheaval in my life. Graduation from college into a work world that had just been clobbered by an economic crisis - I drank that anxiety away. Having children didn't lessen my anxiety - I just didn’t have as much time to think about it. Divorce - anxiety through the roof. Custody of Mason at age 54 - anxious and isolated on top of it, that was incredibly difficult. After I bought my first house - I was paralyzed by anxiety. Once again, it’s back in full force.
It was the realization that my anxiety had gotten the best of me that allowed me to start making changes in my life. Instead of letting my anxiety drive my actions, I had to take control of my life. In retrospect, not acknowledging how anxious I was certainly didn’t make things better and likely made my life worse. For years, I believed if I did the right amount of yoga and meditation, I could wrestle control of my life from anxiety. I told myself that lie for years.
What finally worked was acknowledging and accepting my anxiety. Not judging myself and thinking I was a lesser person.
When my mind began to pull me into a line of thinking that I knew would cause me anxiety, I just stopped. Didn’t think about the who, the what or the why that was causing my anxiety. I certainly struggled with that, but when I succeeded in slamming the door shut on the thoughts that were making me anxious, there was peace instead of panic. If I wasn’t always successful in shutting that door, I gave myself grace and compassion when my mind went on a spiral. The key to reducing my anxiety was to stay present. Thinking of the future and the long list of what could go wrong, will ALWAYS cause anxiety.
Maybe you normally don't struggle with anxiety, but right now thoughts are coming at lightning speed and you are overwhelmed with panic. Maybe you have always had a low level hum of anxiety. These tips are for you.
Living with anxiety can seem incredibly challenging, but denying anxiety can make the struggle even more difficult. When we allow ourselves to accept and make peace with our anxiety, we can take the first step towards healing. May you find the healing you deserve as you take it one breath at a time.