I am battling anxiety.
I was never one to openly talk about much, but I am better on paper, so here it goes. I hope at least one person benefits from this post, or at least doesn’t feel so alone.
As a child, I was a worrier. Also a control freak, but more on that later. I worried about everything that the grown-ups were supposed to be worrying about, and even though they told me not to, I couldn’t control my fears. And I am still trying today.
Only lately have I understood how insecurity and anxiety go hand in hand. When I became a mom 9 years ago, one would say that I was a confident person. As a teacher, girlfriend, daughter, sister, and woman, I exuded confidence. I could walk into my classroom and put on a stellar show for 45 minutes and rotate it 5 times a day. I still can, and do, but now I understand myself more. As a mother, worries intensify. You cannot begin to understand what it’s like to lay in bed thinking did I handle that situation correctly, unless you are suffering, too. I replay discussions in my mind and wonder how I came across, and if it was harsh or rude. I text people apologies for something that they can’t even recall. I worry about my children and if I used the wrong tone of voice, or what’s worse-will they remember me as a mean mother when they look back on their childhood? Will they remember me at all?
As I’m preparing for a new school year, my 12th year teaching high school English, I want to share what is helping to alleviate my anxiety, and promote confidence from within.
1. Yoga breathing, or the form of ujjay breath is used to begin thinking about your breathing. It should come from the back of your throat with your mouth closed, and is often referred to as sounding like the ocean. I do this to calm down, but also when I practice yoga at www.yogaglo.com. Another quick relaxer is to breathe this way and stick your tongue on the room of your mouth. The pressure if very comforting and brings your pulse and stress down immediately.
2. Support yourself with caring, selfless people. My family and friends know when I need to vent, and allow me to cry if need be. They do not say, “Oh, Carrie, don’t worry, you’ll be great.” Instead they say, “You are great, Carrie.” Leaving the front half off that sentence is important. I will worry no matter what.
3. Having a mantra. I prefer one my college friend shared with me so long ago. I bet she knew I had anxiety before I figured it out. Social workers know what to look for I guess. Anyway, she wrote on a mirror, “You are a confident, competent, capable woman.” I like saying this to myself as a reminder and a pick me up.
4. Eating healthy. Making good choices helps me feel better about myself. Recently I gave up coffee, coke, and beer. I’ve only cheated twice in the last three weeks, thanks to an outrageously fun Tom Petty concert! Eating better also helps me think about still being around for my kids when I’m old and gray.
5. Writing. When I get overwhelmed, I like to vent on paper since it cannot talk back. I also like making to do lists if I am overtly anxious for something like school just starting up in a few days. Writing helps my mind purge the worry, which leaves me momentarily stress free.
6. Understanding that I cannot control much. This one is the most difficult to grasp. When I feel the need to control a situation, I pause and think to myself, is this an appropriate thing to say or necessary for me to step in? My husband and dad remind me of this often too, which directly correlates to #2.
7. Staying off social media as much as possible. Society is slowly telling us how to live our lives through comments, articles, newsfeeds, and images that are found within seconds online. Too many self-help articles have now become, “This is the correct way to do this” judgement. Taking a break from social media can be an important part to disonnecting. Not using your phone or laptop may also be helpful if you are constantly checking texts and emails. When you disconnect, you often connect deeper inside yourself, or in the lives of family and friends.
8. Finally, if you are interested in natural healing, I suggest a mix of lavender, orange, and bergamot (also found in black tea) essential oils mixed into coconut oil. Massage into hands and forearms, or put a few drops onto your pillow. It may ease your worries when you are trying your best to rest.
As tough as this blog was to write, it has helped me begin the process of communicating how I feel. See #5. It’s my hope that readers will have other tips to share. Feel free to comment with any tricks you have found to help ease your anxiety.