How I Cope With Anxiety
I'm a pretty open book about my personal struggles because 1) I find it therapeutic to open up about them... and 2) I don't think feigning perfection serves the world in any way.
I've struggled with anxiety since early on in high school. I used to let my anxiety paralyze me... especially in my mid-20s, when I was in a very different space. I’d stop what I was doing and hide out ‘til it passed. (Still my natural instinct, but that’s obviously not a great way to live).
I’ve learned to move through it... and while it still sucks when it hits, at least it doesn’t stop me dead in my tracks.
So what has helped? Here are 5 things that help me deal with anxiety- and 2 things that I DON’T recommend...
1. Talking to other people about it. Especially to people who GET IT.
My husband Scott, bless his heart, is one of the FEW people I have ever encountered that hasn’t experienced anxiety. (Lucky bastard, right?! I kid...) He does a stellar job at showing empathy- but I can also sense his frustration sometimes, because he just can’t relate.
In 2018 I’ve been blessed to connect with a group of likeminded women who also run their own businesses, and it has been such an eye opener to learn that these women- these high-achieving, seemingly flawless, BOSS women- also struggle with anxiety.
Talking to people who really "get me," and go through similar struggles, has helped me realize I'm NOT a crazy person... what I'm experiencing is very normal. Knowing women I admire face the same issues I do has provided a lot of comfort, and helps me be more accepting of the situation.
2. Remembering my WHY... and making that WHY something bigger than myself.
These days, my personal WHY is my brand. I created Crunches Then Cocktails not for myself, (okay, I lie, it’s partially for myself because it’s like my baby, and it brings me a ton of fulfillment) but more importantly for ALL women who want to live their best lives, full out.
Putting the vision of the brand over myself- and thinking from the perspective of “my purpose is bigger than ME”- that gives me the energy and courage to push through on the days I’d prefer to hide out under the covers.
3. Tapping (also called EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique).
I need to do a whole blog post (or better yet, a video) on this. Tappjng is something that at first may seem very “woo woo,” but the science doesn’t lie- this really WORKS. I use tapping with my private clients to work through a bunch of different barriers and roadblocks- but it’s an awesome tool to reduce anxiety, and is proven to lower cortisol (the stress response hormone) in the body, in a matter of a few minutes.
4. Movement/ Activity/ Getting a workout in. Bet you saw this one coming from me, right?!? Well there’s a reason.
I always say: I used to work out because of vanity... now it’s for my sanity. For me, moving my body is no longer about burning calories- it’s about connecting to my body and my highest self, gaining clarity, reducing stress, boosting my mood & staying centered.
5. Giving myself a little more grace.
You can find a LOT of definitions for the word grace, but my favorites are: a) the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God, and b) the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
It’s in my nature to be very rigid in my approach to, well, just about everything... but this year I’m trying to adopt the practice of “flowing, not forcing.” I’m also trying to be more forgiving and compassionate with myself- especially around these episodes of anxiety.
2 Things That DON’T Help. Note: I've tried 'em again and again and again, so maybe you don't have to. You're welcome... ;)
1. Numbing mechanisms.
Food and alcohol have been my choice ways to numb out in the past. It's still my first thought of how to cope when the sh*t hits the fan.
But I’ve realized my old friends Ben & Jerry... or dearest old José, Jameson, or 3-Buck-Chuck... they are all fun and games, ‘til they’re NOT.
Unfortunately when you’re done numbing out with your “drug of choice” you still have to come back to reality- and using these things to cope just leaves me feeling even crappier, versus just working through it head on.
2. Silence & isolation.
I just read a part of Rachel Hollis's book, Girl, Wash Your Face, and I think she says this perfectly. Rather than paraphrasing, here is her wisdom on this:
"The Bible says, let that which is in the darkness be brought into the light. When things are allowed to sit in the darkness, when we're afraid to speak them aloud, we give them power. The darkness lets those fears fester and grow until they become stronger over time. If you never allow your fears out, then how in the world can you disseminate them?"
Well said, Rachel. (Side note: read her book!) And I couldn't agree more. Isolating yourself and staying quiet about what you're going through will only make things worse. Sadly, discussion of mental healthy is still pretty rare these days- and there seems to be a lot of shame around it- and that needs to change. And who does change start with? Yup, us.
This is probably the real-est, most personal blog I've written on the site so far... but my intention is to keep opening up about all of it.
The good, the bad... lighthearted tips and the hardest lessons I've ever learned. My intention is to always bring light to the dark places and to let you know you're NOT crazy for what you're experiencing. We're all just out here doing our best. And guess what? That is good enough.