When Anxiety Comes to Town

Anxiety.

We’re old friends.

Fear is an old friend, too, but for me, anxiety and fear are different.  They’re close cousins, for sure, but distinguishable in many ways.  Fear arrives crashing throughout my front door, up in my face, in this alarmist, everything is big and scary sort of way.  Whereas Anxiety tends to sneak in through the basement door, lurking unseen, waiting for that opportune moment to climb on my back, so subtly and quietly.  It can be days before I even realize he’s there.  And once I do realize he’s there, I often don’t know why.  But “The Why” is an important part of managing my anxiety and over the years I’ve developed a set of strategies to help me recognize it, discover its source, and let it go.

The first step seems so basic and so obvious, but without it, the rest can’t happen.

1.)  Recognize and acknowledge that I’m anxious.  I can’t deal with my anxiety, if I don’t know I’m anxious.  Like I said, my anxiety is sneaky and often arrives without any sort of announcement, so I have to be pretty savvy to know he’s there.  It usually begins with an inability to focus and the overwhelming feeling of not being able to get anything done.  It’s an – I’m out of sorts and I don’t know why – kind of thing.  And when I pause and allow myself a moment to recognize the familiar signs, then I can begin to connect the dots and start to do something about it.

2.)  Say it out loud. (I used this same technique with Anxiety’s cousin Fear, which you can read about here.)  “I’m anxious,” I say and wait for the exhale that inevitably follows.  Then I Say it again.  “I’m anxious.”  And exhale.  And repeat as necessary.

3.) And I drink water. Lots of it.  And remember that my body is an energy circuit and energy flows best and freely through water.

4.) And I recall what I’ve eaten, or not.  Hmmm, it’s 11am and I’ve had 2 cups of coffee and a half a gluten-free peanut butter cookie.  Time to feed myself, preferably some protein.

5.)  I look back on the night before.  How many glasses of wine did I drink? Is that the same pit in my stomach I felt the last time I poured one glass too many?

6.)  Nap. Speaking of last night, what time did I go to bed?  A 20-minute lie down would do me wonders.

7.) Close my laptop.  How long have I been sitting in front of this computer?

8.) Walk.  Get out into the woods, my sanctuary.

9.)  Write.  This step is key.  I know that once I begin writing, once that pencil touches the paper and the words begin to flow, I no longer have to carry all of the unease around.  I never know from one time to the next what form this will take, it may be a list, a bunch of jumbled words on a page or formed paragraphs. No matter.  What matters is that the page holds the worries and they’re no longer inside of me mucking up the works.  Writing leads me to “The Why” behind my anxiety.

10.) Put on Music – Windham Hill and The Be Good Tanyas stations on Pandora are two of my favorites.

11.)  Wrap a scarf around my neck. Or put on an extra sweater.  Warmth makes me feel safe and secure.

12.)  Rescue Remedy.  This flower essence was first introduced to me right before we brought Andie home from the hospital. It comes in liquid form, cream, spray, and even a new, delightful gum.  A few drops under my tongue, a dab of cream behind my ears and wrists (meridian points) or a chiclet-like piece in my mouth and we’re talking instant calm.

13.) Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth CD grounds me and brings me right back to my center. Reading the book was an amazing experience, but listening to Tolle himself read the book, which I’ve done over and over, is phenomenal.

14.)  Reiki.  My teacher always says, Hands on, Reiki’s on. So I sit quietly and put my own hands on my cheeks, shoulders, and abdomen and feel my life-force energy return.

15.)  I consult my calendar and note when was the last time I had an appointment for Self-Care. Massage, Reiki, a game of tennis, a walk with a friend?  If anxiety’s back in town, I’m usually due.

16.)  Get organized.  This is a new addition to my list of strategies and came as a bit of a surprise.  While I was writing about anxiety and at the same time enlisting all my known techniques, I discovered that a lack of order is quite anxiety inducing.  It wasn’t until I began my whole organizational quest that I came to recognize the importance of order in my life and found that a pile of unopened mail, unpaid bills, or a misplaced document  can invoke lots of stress in my life.

And once I’ve gone through all those strategies and my breath has hopefully returned, I remind myself of my favorite Eckhart Tolle quote,

“And this too shall pass.”

And this too shall pass.  It always does, doesn’t it?

What about you? How do you mange your anxiety?

(On a side note, since discovering a gluten allergy two years and cutting all wheat products out of my life, the level and frequency of my anxiety has decreased significantly.  I’ve received many emails and questions about Gluten-Free Living and hope to post a blog on the subject soon.)

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Valentine’s Day Dessert

My dear friend and Reiki Master, Libby Barnett put together a lavish birthday basket for my husband Lee, full of all things healthy including our favorite protein bars, organic jelly beans, almonds, coconut water and pomegranates!  It ended up being a gift to us all and the pomegranates inspired our new favorite dessert – Pomegranate seeds over vanilla ice cream!

Simple and delicious and the vibrant red makes it a perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day!

Andie and I disagreed about how to cut open the pomegranates.  She was a fan of the method recommended on this site www.thekitchn.com while I chose the immersion in water method recommended on this site www.simplyrecipes.com.  We’d love to know if you have a favorite way!

Perhaps the photographic evidence will help you decide which method you’d prefer!

Andie’s method.
My method.

Despite our disagreement about approach, we both agree that the result is delicious! I hope you get a chance to try it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us know if you do!

Any favorite Valentine’s Day recipes to share from your end? Tucker would be extremely grateful for something involving less fruit and more sugar and flour!

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Dear to My Heart

I met Shonda Clements earlier this year. This was the Facebook message she sent me.

“I finished reading your book today. It’s the first thing I’ve been able to focus on since early February when we received a diagnosis that threatened our daughter’s life. I’ve documented a lot of our journey on a blog ( judahandselah.com ) – in short they were born at 27 weeks, my daughter growth restricted, weighing just 1lb 5oz at birth, my son 2lb 4oz. Currently they are in two different NICUs 30 minutes apart from each other and an additional 30-45 min away from my three year old daughter. Selah, my daughter is 2 weeks post op, surviving NEC. My son, Judah is 2 days post extubation. (one of five). I read your story with mixed emotions… Gratitude for the comfort of knowing someone else understood my fears. Anxiety over what I know we still have to face, but most of all…hope. Lots of tears fell for you, Lee, Tucker and Andie- and lots for me and my children as well as I embrace feeling terrified wandering down the path you’ve already faced. I just want to thank you for the days of your lives you poured into this book – for the sacrifices I am sure you made. It made a difference in my life, I can assure you. I have been told by a friend to look into Reiki and had put it on the back burner but now have a renewed interest in seeking more alternative healing therapies for my family. I hope your book brings you lots of success and peace. It has encouraged me to keep hoping, to stay positive and to be present. I believe Ariel leading me to your book was not an accident. Tell Andie she is an inspiration. Thank you, Shonda”

I’ve followed their story ever since, falling more and more in love with that family and the Momma whose fierce love knows no bounds.

Judah ended up back in the hospital in December.

“Judah will be undergoing a tracheostomy this afternoon. Although we do believe it will be temporary (months-year) it is still very unknown. This surgery will render him mute. He will not coo, laugh or cry. It will hinder his ability to smell and taste- there are a lot of things that it will make difficult for him however, it will help inflate his little lungs so he can breathe. Please pray for us.”

“My dearest Trinity, This year I’ve not only watched you grow (and boy, did you ever grow!) I watched you transform from a toddler with perpetually sticky hands and a love for sippy cups and crackers to a brave little lady. My heart found new depths of love as I witnessed you unconditionally love and care for your baby brother and sister. Not a shred of jealousy have you displayed while our lives are turned upside down. Instead you blossomed into a child full of empathy and grace. You are so intelligent, your imagination never ceases to amaze me. I’m beyond blessed to be your mama. You teach me far more than I could ever teach you. Trinity, my first born, you are nothing short of a miracle. I can not wait to see you rise above the mountain of potential you hold. Happy Birthday, baby girl. May your fourth year of life be full of happiness and wonder. I love you always.”
“Leaving this year a hell of a lot stronger than I started it.” Shonda Clements
You are my hero, Shonda Clements.
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