I am proud to include a guest post this week from the talented Erica Leathem, creater of the always hilarious Blog From a Broad. Erica is a client of mine and has recently written about how a little understanding and mindfulness saved what could have otherwise been a rather anxious day.
Saturday is my day. The potential of the whole weekend is yours for the taking, and I was feeling grabby. This past Saturday was the first day of the outdoor farmers market in my little hometown of Troy, NY, so we [were] all pumped. Troy, being the home of Uncle Sam, the detachable collar, Defazio’s pizza, and this blog, one cannot pass up the opportunity to take in the sites.
Saturday was going to be my day. I mapped it all out: wake up; do a little mindfulness in bed (not a euphemism…this time); walk down to the farmers market early; sit in the spring sun and read for as long as I could stand it; maybe meet a friend for breakfast. #heaven
But, I woke up anxious.
Heart pounding, thoughts racing, sweating in places I didn’t know I could sweat, nauseous, and generally had an overwhelming sadness that just simply took my breath away.
Immediately, my sleepy brain jumped straight into fight or flight mitigation crisis center mode.
“Did I not sleep well?!” “Did I not have enough water yesterday?!” “Was that a palpitation?!” “Did I forget to take fish oil and magnesium?!” “What did I eat that was processed?!” And my favorite, “Why won’t this stop? What’s wrong with me?”
Kelli Walker, anxiety coach to the stars (panicandanxietycoach.com), and the salt to my pepper, reminds me often that I’m not going to get rid of my anxiety. In fact, it’s not my anxiety. She asks, “why would we want to? Anxiety is good for us when it does its job.”
Those are the days I want to slap her through my Britney Spears headset and tell her to shut her wet mouth. It’s also why she’ll be buying an island in the Caribbean with all my coaching money.
She is, of course, right. It’s not about getting anxiety to go away [sing it with me…insert literally any emotion here].
Kelli says, “blah blah blah, you don’t need to distract yourself from anxiety, that’s not the point. This is about taking a step back from trying to solve anxiety to see if it allows us to gain some space, and see where we’re getting caught up in our thinking.”
And I was like, “marry me.”
And she was all, “I’m married. And stop asking. Remember that a lot of the thoughts swirling around your head are not a reflection of you or your ability to ‘handle this’, it’s just the reflection of an energized state.”
Is it so much to ask that she and I walk on the beach at sunset together looking in the distance whilst singing “For Good” from Wicked, and then make s’mores and laugh at how we love the same Brene Brown quotes?
Anyway. Kelli has talked me down from some major anxiety quicksand. More importantly, she has shown me the tools to navigate out of that Neverending Story nightmare by myself (#RIPArtax).
So, on Saturday, when I wanted to close my eyes to my fear, and stay in bed until all the bad feelings went away, I found those tools quickly. Well, quicker than I would have this time last year.
I remembered that my heart racing is just cortisol, the stress hormone that is strongest in the morning. Without it, we wouldn’t wake up. I remembered that for me, noticing and counting my breath can help stimulate my vagus nerve. I remembered that getting super present can help too: I did a body scan and felt every pressure point and every tingle. I felt the warmth of my covers, and the softness of my pillow. I heard the birds, and the homeless guy in the alley outside my apartment chanting the F word. (#zen)
I remembered that emotions literally mean in motion, and that if I gave them space to leave, they would.
And they did.
I walked down to the farmers market early. I sat in the spring sun and read until I couldn’t stand it. And I met friends for breakfast. I even saved enough energy to cook and have dinner with a great friend and neighbor, AND go out for a drink.
<And then slept all day Sunday because who does more than three things in a day?>
Anxiety isn’t going to stop me, and that thing that’s keeping you in your bed eating Nutella with a spoon isn’t going to stop you either. We’re braver than that. We know better now, and so we’ll do better tomorrow.