Anxiety can feel unpredictable, but here's what you can do...
Anxiety is a tricky, tricky beast. But then again, it typically shares some warning signs with us before it hits full force. Sometimes, I think we are too busy or unaware to notice. Like yesterday, when my body decided that having a panic attack might be a good idea in a local coffee shop…
To be honest, I was having a rough couple of days hormonally. My period hit and I was feeling DRAINED. Physically and emotionally. The exhaustion was real and I felt unusually out of it. I decided to chalk it up to a randomly intense cycle and kept pushing through. I didn’t stop to think about what my body had been through the past few weeks and why it might be feeling extra exhausted and craving rest (you know, all the things I typically tell my clients to do, lol).
So, I headed to my favorite coffee shop like I do most mornings, and hopped on my computer. My body was feeling worn down and hormonal, but I decided that two cups of black tea would do the trick. I mean, who was I KIDDING with all that caffeine?
I had been working for a couple hours, just finished my second cup of black tea, when it hit me.
I started to feel really shaky and my heart started pounding like crazy. I suddenly forgot what I was working on and I could feel the coffee shop starting to close in around me. It’s a SCARY feeling! In the past I would have handled this situation very differently, but I reminded myself of what I knew to be true:
This was just my body’s physical reaction to a perceived stressor.
Nothing was actually wrong.
I wasn’t going crazy.
My thoughts would either strengthen or lessen the reaction.
I used to be SO afraid of my anxiety/worry, which in turn, only made it worse and made it last a longer. Instead of feeding into it, I practiced the tools that have helped me reduce and overcome a lot of my old symptoms.
I’ve found that it takes a blend of reducing nutritional & lifestyle stressors, as well as breaking down my core beliefs around anxiety, that has made all the difference in my healing process.
nutritional & lifestyle stressors
There is definitely a physiological response when it comes to anxiety that makes coping difficult. The shaking, pounding heart, distraction, stomach ache… these are the symptoms that keep us from busting through our fears. We want to AVOID the feeling of anxiety so much that we are hesitant to move forward or put ourselves in uncertain situations. It can make us feel like we have lost control and that anxiety is just something we have to “deal with.” But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Yes, we can’t always control our body’s response to anxiety (or none of us would have it!!) but we can absolutely make sure our body’s stress response is in a balanced and stable place preemptively. This might include eating for balanced blood sugar, watching caffeine, or reducing sugar… small nutritional changes that signal safety in the body.
It might also mean deep belly breathing, yoga, or lymphatic brushing (Yes, I know ALL of the crazy techniques! lol). Whatever it looks like for you -- it’s important to show your body, from a biological standpoint, that it is safe. You have the power to change how your central nervous system is functioning…. how powerful is that?!
your core beliefs around anxiety
It’s also important to challenge your core beliefs around anxiety. Do you feel like a victim to your anxiety? Can you trust, that just maybe, there is another way to feel? How can you look at your anxiety as a part of what makes you… YOU?
I’ve found that when I can’t stop the worry, it’s time to look at the deeper root of the problem. Usually, it comes down to a lack of trust in myself. That perhaps I’m “not capable.” That I’m not “good” enough. That everything must look and be “perfect.”
When I really dig deep into my anxiety, I realize that there is a lot of inner work that needs to be done in order to release these thought patterns. And this piece isn’t easy. It takes a willingness to open up and challenge the parts of you that make you uncomfortable. It might even mean working with a coach or therapist who can help open your awareness to patterns and negative beliefs that are keeping you stuck.
The problem isn’t the THOUGHTS, because thoughts aren’t even real. The problem isn’t even really the anxiety (although managing symptoms is really important). Rather, it’s all about discovering why we have these patterns and beliefs in the first place… and what they mean about the relationship we have with ourselves and the world around us.
We aren’t perfect and shit happens (aka panic attacks in coffee shops...lol) but there is so much power in knowing that YOU have the ability to change and control your situation. Your body and inner wisdom really do have the answers if you take the time to listen.