Today I want to talk about managing anxiety because this is by far my number one health struggle. Not diet, exercise (or lack thereof), or getting enough sleep. Just simply not letting my heart jump out of my chest and run the fuck away screaming “the sky is falling” because come to think of it those clouds are a little closer than they were 5 minutes and 37 seconds ago.
Now this is because I have a major issue with anxiety. And not that adorable “I wonder if I left the stove on, tee-hee” kind of anxiety, I am talking next-level, completely irrational, rendered me hospitalized on more than one occasion kind of anxiety.
Me- *makes a sandwich*
My anxiety- “yo who’s gonna water your plants if you die tho”
— Healthy Living for Hot Messes (@HLFHM) February 26, 2018
You know what’s not cute? A 34 year old woman with sleeping with waterwings on and tethered to the bed because you just never know when a tsunami might come or the Rapture might happen, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna kick it with a bunch of fucking angels when I am supposed to have that Board Report handed in by Thursday.
Your Heartbeat is the Slow Gallup of Death
My degree is in psychology, and I remember in a Biological Basis of Behavior course hearing some theory that you only get a certain number of heartbeats in your life and that once you use those up you die.
Holy shit hearing that put me in a tailspin that without a doubt shaved a year or 2 off my life.
As I age and my kids’ nonsense gets me riled up, wasting more of my precious heartbeats, I realize that this is something I really want to work on. Being slightly neurotic might be kind of endearing on TV but at this point my gravestone might as well say “Here lies Mandi she died as she lived, worrying too fucking much”.
Here are my top 2 secrets for finding my way off the Anxiety Strugglebus.
Meditate… LOL J/K
I’d love to recommend meditation but I have not had 3 consecutive quiet minutes to myself in about 4 years so I am currently on the “LOL Meditation is some bullshit” train. So instead what I am going to reccommend is “Reflection”.
I think the most often used phrase in my life is “And yet you lived to tell the tale”. As a person who is typically ruled by icky emotions such as guilt and shame, I must love thinking of completely uncomfortable/catastrophic things. I use this to my advantage by reflecting on things in the past that sucked hard but yet I “lived to tell the tale”.
Now you try it- that time you farted in 9th grade gym class, giving birth and being sure you were going to die, every horrific break up. Think about those things and how almost any horrible, uncomfortable experience does indeed end at some point. Or at the very least transforms into something else equally garbage but different.
Another great thing about reflection is it can help you gain perspective. Awhile ago my 3 year old fell ill with a very rare but transient illness which was stumping the doctors. I remember getting his test results and spending a lot of time at the hospital. At the time I thought he might have had leukemia or something else dire, but we discovered that what he had was strange, transient, but largely harmless. I try and think of this experience often to remind myself to put things into perspective.
Is That YOUR Dumpster on Fire?
I have the curse of painful self awareness and after a ton of reflection I have realized that I eagerly take on the stress of shit that I have ZERO control over.
These are NOT my problems, they are NOT my responsibility to fix.
I think for me this comes from the place of being a people pleaser and wanting everyone to be happy. However this tendency is not serving my life or anyone else’s. You cannot put “Clusterfuck Martyr” on your resume so why work yourself into the ground behaving as one.
Figure out what things you have control over and which things you don’t. Delegate your energy and resources accordingly. It really is that simple! But it takes mad practice.
So think of it. If something is not under your control then don’t stress about it.
If it’s something truly horrendous that is out of your control that effects your ability to live happily (such as the case of laws, policy and political type things) then your time is better spent worrying less and doing more with whatever voice, platform or power you have as a citizen.
Activism might get you further than crying into your ice cream while avoiding the newspaper.
How do You Manage Stress?
Surely I can’t be the only one with these problems? How do you all cope?