By Nikki Stern
I was thinking about what gives me anxiety. It’s people.
I love people, but lots of them in one place makes me feel all sorts of anxious. Immediately I’m judging multiple things at once: my clothes, my butt, my hair, my job, my ideals, my values, my house, and what the hell I’m going to eat, because when you say you’re a health coach- your plate is under a microscope.
The National Library of Medicine defines anxiety like this:
Stress can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, unease, and worry. The source of these symptoms is not always known.
Thankfully I’ve been able to control my tendency to spiral. I still don’t care to be in large groups, so I take that into consideration when I’m deciding what to do and where to go. If I do need to be in a large group I make sure to bookend the experience with some quality self care and ME time.
We should all have tools that are exclusively ours to deal with feelings that are exclusively ours. Not everyone gets weird in large groups. We all have our own little quirks.
Did you know quite a few fancy, famous people have battled anxiety disorders too? Think President Lincoln, Goldie Hawn, and Nicole Kidman.
My anxiety was exclusively a result of thoughts that made me feel fearful, unworthy and not enough. Understanding fear, though, can provide a fresh perspective. What do you think?
Fear is excitement without the breath.
~Fritz Pearls, MD
The first time I read this it didn’t have quite the effect it did the second time I ran across it. Our breath is a tool we take for granted, at least I always did. It wasn’t until I began a yoga practice and now a meditation practice that I was able to reap the benefits of using this automatic inhale exhale thing to my advantage.
We work so hard to escape uncomfortable feelings rather than paying a little attention and allowing them to pass that it becomes impossible to really see the root cause. There are a long list of things we use to band-aid our fears and anxiety:Food – especially sugar, overeating or under eating Alcohol Drugs – recreational and prescription Self-deprecating behavior – this is funny until you see someone else do it and realize the pain beneath it
There are tools we can use that don’t gloss over and numb the feelings of anxiety, rather they allow us to step back, be gentle, and work through the feelings. Working through anxiety will prevent it from getting worse and will help you manage it effectively (remember my plan for dealing with big groups?)
Here are the tools I use and recommend to all of my clients in maintaining their mental and emotional health and well-being:
Using the breath
You don’t have to sit for hours or chant to benefit from meditation. There is no right or wrong way to do it, you can do it sitting in a chair or walking down the street. Just begin. Start with 5 minutes in the morning and the evening and feel the benefits.
Watching your movie
Step back and dissociate from yourself for a minute so that you’re watching a movie all about you. Don’t start getting judgmental, just observe. What do you notice?
Smelling the roses
One of the best things we can do for ourselves is get outside. Crying babies usually chill out when you give them some fresh air and so do we. I recommend walking outside everyday. I think it’s one of the best and easiest things you can do for your health.
Words as power
Keep a journal to record the things you notice in your movie, see if there is a pattern. Simply paying attention to this will help break the cycle of unhealthy behaviors. Also, find quotes, mantras or phrases that make you feel good and use them: post them in your home or by your desk, put them in your planner or on your computer so you see them often.
Junk Food = Junk Mood
As a holistic health coach I’m a diet agnostic. We are all different and there is not one “right” way to eat. It’s also nice to indulge from time to time because the goal is not to be perfect, it’s to live a fulfilled, happy life. So 90% of the time, treat your body kindly by feeding it nourishing food. Not nourishing our bodies (mind and soul, too) has direct and immediate effects on our moods.
Everyone experiences some form of anxiety in their lives. The goal is not to rid ourselves of all fear, it’s to tap into the excitement we’re blocking. Turns out a room full of people is pretty exciting in my fantasy. I could potentially meet some really amazing folks and they might feel lucky to meet me too. Accepting and feeling my fears, reminding myself I am safe, and moving forward has allowed me to meet and become friends with quite a few people I would not have otherwise had the chance. I’d love to meet you and hear what you discover about your own anxieties. Come say hello on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.