6 years ago was when I had my first bout with anxiety, except I had no idea that’s what it was. Get ready to laugh with me because I had no idea what anxiety was, but I associated it with like, you're gonna laugh, but picture this… someone on the stock exchange floor, watching the tickers rise and fall, and they are like, pacing back and forth, and it’s loud, people are screaming, he is screaming, he is soaking wet from sweat, breathing heavy, looking around paranoid and neurotic, about to lose his mind because he's about to lose all of his money... yeeeea I'm sorry to admit this, but THAT was my depiction of what anxiety was.
I had no idea how silent it could be, and how it lived inside of myself... oh so silent to everyone but me.
I was going through some challenges in life at the time and I know what brought it on. At the time, I never felt like I had my footing just right. I felt like I was going 1 step ahead and 2 steps back. I put myself under an enormous amount of stress and I felt like I was literally dying some nights.
I can remember sitting in my apartment, it was really late one night, I was working on my computer, but I couldn’t focus. I felt really scared all the time, paranoid almost, and always felt winded, like I couldn’t catch my breath. I had a hard time explaining what this feeling was, because it was new... scared is the closest thing I can relate it to… not fear… just scared… like someone came around the corner and startled me but like, for hours and hours on end. So, I guess maybe adrenaline is the right word I’m describing, but not the good kind of adrenaline like being on a roller coaster... well, maybe that feeling when the roller coaster DROPS but the problem was it felt like it kept dropping... I digress... Regardless! I was on the phone with one of my gf’s who literally was coaching me through it, and was like, "G, you’re having an anxiety attack" I was like, no way, that’s not what it is, I just can’t catch my breath… she was like, uh yeah girl, that’s anxiety.
FINALLY… I finally had a word to put to this feeling. I know, I know, everything doesn’t always need a label… but sometimes it does. I never went to a doctor because I didn’t feel sick. I didn’t think that “that” feeling warranted a doctor’s visit… like, come on… Can you imagine saying “I feel scared and winded”…they would have looked at me sideways and said “you’re fine, go home, it’s all in your head”… and yea. That’s exactly it. It was all in my head.
So my girl gave me this little breathing exercise to do and I still do it to this day… Breathe in slowly for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, release for 5 seconds…. Do this 5 times. That’s it!?? Yea girl, that’s it. I did it… and I felt like it got things inside of me calibrating again. I still felt a smidge of that “feeling” in my chest, but it wasn’t nearly as much... and that one lonely night, I learned how important breathing was.
Breath changes the brain.
Don’t believe me? Try holding your breath and see how long you last…. Breath changes the brain.
Breathing is involuntary, and because we don’t have to think about it to DO it, we often times will start to breathe really shallow throughout the day without even realizing it. Like right now for instance, I bet you just caught yourself and took a huge breath and I also am willing to bet that it felt amaaaaaazing.
So, do it again. Take another huge deep belly breath through your nose, holding at the top, filling every last space in your lungs until you can't fit anymore, and out the mouth, opening the mouth like your saying “haaaahhhhh”. Notice how you feel.
Now breath normally again… and notice how you feel.
Feel where the air is going, as it travels in and out of your body. Don’t alter anything. Just observe. You may shut your eyes too… just breathe. Think about nothing but the flow of air, in through your nose, out through your mouth… notice how that feels. If your mind drifts into other thoughts, pull it back in, and focus only on your breath.
…. Aaaaand congratulations my love, you just did a beginner’s meditation. YAY!!! So long story short, I have lived more of my life without anxiety than with, but once I started experiencing it, it only took a few years to really get a handle on what it was and how to overcome it.
I started with breathing… I added to that, visualization…. I added to both of those, meditation… after I got a handle on all of that, I made the sessions longer and longer as long as time permitted… I added to those 3 things, affirmations… shortly, after that I added in chanting… shortly after that, I added in the missing piece, that brings it all together: gratitude.
Every. Single. Fucking. Day.
You can see my 28 days of gratitude posts on the blog beginning here (and they are mostly sitting in drafts because I literally free wrote all of them on that particular day and haven't edited them down yet... whoops!!!)
If you feel like there’s no way out, like you are stuck, like you have no purpose, like you have lost yourself, there is a way out… but the only way out is in. You can find what your looking for INSIDE of yourself. I have SO been there, more than once.
But how many times was I going to repeat the same story, expecting the ending to change? Different characters, different location, different timeline, same plot. Over and over and over again. I thought, things will be different when *fill in the blank* ... All that shit that was causing me anxiety was because I was continuing to push forward focusing on decisions that deep down inside, I knew wasn't right for me, but I continued to push forward because I was trying to prove myself to everyone. Prove myself... to everyone. Let that sink in.
If you’re feeling stuck, anxious, lost, trying to prove yourself... stop. Start journaling. Write it all out. Free write. Write like nobody’s watching. Don’t write what you think you should write, write what comes out of your heart, your soul. Write out everything that is limiting you: love, money, career, relationships, family, how you look, how you feel, every single damn thing. Get. It. The. Fuck. Out. What triggers you? What really gets under your skin? What pisses you off? Write write write and...
Let that shit go.
Now flip that script... reverse the story. Rewrite it. What do you love? What do you want more of? When do you feel your best? What does your perfect day look like? Pour your heart out.
Everything that is making you feel anxious or stuck stems from resistance. It feels like your insides are slamming on the breaks. You're feeling this for a damn good reason. I know that right now, it might not feel like the right thing, but trust, TRUST that it is taking you to that place of peace. You HAVE to go through this right now so that when you find peace inside of yourself, no outside force can shake you.
This is only the beginning.
This is not how your story ends.
Much love xoxo