I've struggled with chronic anxiety since I was a child. At times it's been as bad as me not wanting to leave the house or eat. At other times it's milder and shows up in fear of flying or large crowds. When you live with anxiety for years on end it becomes tough to describe it to others who don't suffer in this way. "Ummmm... sooooo... it's sort of like you're panicked all the time. Like something bad is going to happen at any minute. Wellll... it's not always entirely like that... it's sort of like you always have knots in your shoulders and neck and your mind starts racing for no apparent reason. I mean... I know that makes me sound crazy... I'm not totally crazy... It's really just major stress 24/7 and it rarely lets up..." and on and on you go explaining yourself and never quite hitting the nail on the head.
A common response after people find out I have generalized anxiety disorder is, "Wow! I never would have guessed that about you! You seem fearless (or on top of shit or calm)." "Nope", I say. "I'm the exact opposite. I have to work really, really hard to seem that way to the world." As a result, I've got more "peace hacks" then I can possibly share in one blog post, but I do want to offer up a few to support you if you struggle with mild daily stress or even more severe forms of anxious thinking like I do.
Peace Hack #1:
INDU LOTION. Buy yourself some and thank me a thousand times. My friend, Marni Task, is a yoga teacher and the founder/owner of Indu. You can buy it at Whole Foods in Northeast Ohio or you can head on over to her website. I've been using it for years and it's an instant relaxer for me. I carry a small bottle when I travel so I can put it on hands and breathe it in when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's an aromatherapy lotion "hand mixed with mantras" and I'm telling you: it's magic.
Peace Hack #2:
DEEP BREATHS WITH EYES CLOSED. Meditation is too much to take on? I hear you. Try this: the next time you feel wild, close your eyes wherever you are and take 3 slowwwwww, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose with your mouth closed and then open your eyes. Voila! It's a little reset button. Breathing in this way calms your parasympathetic nervous system and allows you to disconnect from the outside world for just a few seconds. It can make all the difference.
Peace Hack #3:
HOT BATHS. I take one every day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It's not even really the bath itself. It's shutting the bathroom door, listening to the water fill the tub, getting naked, sinking in slowly and releasing that first sigh. Sometimes I lay there for no more than 3 minutes before I stand up to grab my towel. It doesn't have to be a long, drawn out process. No bubbles needed. Just shut the door, take off all of your clothes, sink in, breathe a few breaths, drain, and get out. I promise, promise, promise you this daily ritual (morning or night) will shift your awareness to your body and your breath in a way that will aid you for the following 24 hours. I RUN to a hot bath when I start feeling a cold come on or when I'm overly emotional about something. It's my safe space.
Peace Hack: #4
SPARKLING WATER WITH FRESH CITRUS. Drink more than you think you should. Like don't sip it. Down it and then refill for a sipper. Hydrating, delicious, and sometimes all you need to get rid of a mild headache caused from dehydration or to ease your fuzzy brain.
Peace Hack: #5
THE LONGER-THAN-IS-TYPICALLY-ACCEPTABLE-HUG. I'm a huge fan of these. Find your partner, child, or difficult-to-weird-out bestie and give them a long ass hug. Don't stop. Keep going. Make them pull away first. The super tight, longer-than-usual hug is equal to 1 therapy session IMHO.
Disclaimer: NONE of these things replace actual therapy with a licensed therapist (read: not a "life coach") or medication when it's recommended by a medical professional. I do both. I've been on medication for over two years now and I've been in therapy off and on for the past 15. Do whatever it takes to be whole and healthy and happy. Let nothing stand in your way. Hack it where you have to, but commit to the process always.
Oh yea - and take a crazy amount of time for yourself. Like don't buy into this bullshit that you have to perform 24/7. YOU DON'T. IT'S A LIE. There are weeks I work closer to 30 hours than 60 and guess what? I AM FINE AND YOU WILL BE TOO! Work efficiently and well but not always. That's my advice to all of you busy ladies out there. Busy does not equal successful. Stop yourself sometimes and ask, "Who am I doing this for? Who is watching that I'm trying to impress or prove something to?" Your work should be done on the inside and it should be driven by you and for you. Take care of yourself the way you would tell the love of your life to take care of his or herself. Follow the advice you would give them.
You are worth it.
We all are.
We have big stuff to do and anxiety can go f*ck itself if it thinks it's going to stop us.
PS - If you would like to talk about anxiety reducing tactics you can use in your business, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can grab tea to discuss!