Mamas, You Can Manage Your Anxiety
First of all, I think I need to share that I struggle with anxiety. It's the terrible, debilitating kind. I don't get sad or cry; I get angry. Honestly, it's a blind rage, if we're being completely real, and I will always try to be completely real with you, mamas.
My blind rages have caused lots of damage in my relationships, both with my daughter and with my husband. No, I don't get violent or harm anyone physically. But my words become like knives and my eyes, daggers. It's how I cope and protect myself when I'm feeling vulnerable.
Rather, I should say, it's how I USED to protect myself. Recently, I took what you might call a 4 month "hiatus" from real life. I went home. I spent time with family. I lived on a farm out in the middle of nowhere. Yes, I was still connected to the internet, but I wasn't running in the same circles and I wasn't surrounded by the same people all the time. Here are some things I learned from that time by myself.
Anxiety isn't "curable" but can be managed.
Hearing that anxiety isn't curable is pretty discouraging. The first time someone told me that, I was like ummmm, I'm pretty sure you're wrong. As time went on, though, I realized that while you can take medication that seems to make your anxiety go away, if you get off that medication, it'll come right back and that's NOT making it go away. I refuse to be on medication all the time, so there are things I do to manage my anxiety that are natural.
Managing your anxiety... what does that even mean?
1. "Managing" means that you have it under control and it's no longer this huge ugly thing that controls your life.
2. "Managing" means that it's still there. Don't forget that; remembering that it still exists is how we keep it under control.
3. "Managing" means that sometimes, you WILL have flare-ups. You will lash out. You will have panic attacks. Managing means we decide how bad it has to be.
Awareness is key.
Being aware that you have anxiety is awesome! That means you KNOW you struggle with it and it's OKAY to! The problems really affect our lives when we bury our heads in the sand and pretend we don't have anxiety, whether its social or situational or whatever. For me, my anxiety flares up pretty bad when I:
- am in a public situation (like malls or fairs or carnivals or clubs)
- drink too much coffee
- have to listen to too much complaining or am surrounded by people who are downers
Start by getting out a piece of paper and writing down all the times in the past week you had anxiety attacks. Why? What was going on BEFORE the anxiety began? What was going on in your heart, mind, and physically - like in your house or at your job?
Once you can answer the WHY, you can get to HOW to control your anxiety.
Essential oils, man.
Before I discovered essential oils, I was RIDDLED with anxiety attacks. Like, daily. It was really bad. I was working at this really fast paced restaurant (what up, Moose's Tooth!) and the customers were constantly either irritated, needing something, or simply chatty. As an introvert, you better believe it was a total nightmare. I worked here for 4 years, and during that time, I rediscovered my love for lavender oil.
To assuage my anxiety, I use lavender on the bottoms of my feet, back of my neck at the base of my skull, and on my wrists. I also put some in the palms of my hands, tent my hands over my nose and breathe deeply 3-4 times. This really, really helps, mamas. I wish you could see me waving my hands around over here - I'm super passionate about this.
Other oils that help anxiety are: cedarwood, bergamot, vetiver, and chamomile, just to name a few. If you have an oil and you're not sure if you can use it for anxiety, comment and ask. I'd be happy to help educate you on what each oil does.
3 tips to wrap this up...
1. Journaling saved my tooshie.
Not sure how to get started? Just go out and buy a freaking notebook. It's that simple. So many people will tell you that you have to have a system set up, or will try to get you to buy fancy pens, or will recommend these complicated journals from Barnes & Noble or something, but honestly, it's all about doing what lights YOU up. For me, that's a new, blank notebook from Walmart that I can write in with my favorite pen. Nothing inspires me more than a new notebook. (Fresh inspiration for $1.98? Priceless.)
2. Find that one friend who gets it.
I have several, but initially, I didn't have anyone. That was killer. I needed friends that really, truly understood what I was going through! Now, my friends Megan K. (she's on here!) and Raewyn S. are my LIFESAVERS when it comes to anxiety. I can literally message them and say OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG I'm losing it today!! and they always know what to say to deflate the situation. Also, having a quick system like Voxer or Whatsapp voice messaging helps a TON.
3. Discover YOUR coping mechanism.
Wanna know mine? I go into the bathroom and I turn on the shower in the dark. I put a towel at the bottom of the door so that not a single bit of light can get in and I let the room fill with hot steam while I sit on the floor. Sometimes I bawl my face off - that helps - and sometimes I just sit in silence. Other times I pray. It just depends on what I need at the moment.
My advice to you? Try it all. Baths, essential oils, sitting in the dark, meditation... figure out what works for YOU and then do that. And if what works for you changes, be okay with that.
It's okay to have anxiety, mama. We can 100% manage it together, okay?
PS. If you ever need to talk, don't hesitate to reach out.