Do you find yourself worrying a lot? Does your heart ever begin to race? Maybe your palms start to sweat or you feel a lump in your throat.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
Everyone gets anxious. Yes, everyone. Some might feel it daily, while others might only feel it during times of high stress. Some people might suffer from severe panic attacks, while others might have slight worries that keep them up at night. Either way, anxiety is something that I see daily in clinical practice and know that it's widespread in our high-speed and high expectation culture.
I GET ANXIOUS TOO
When I was younger, I never associated my worst-case scenario worrying or my nighttime brain activity as anxiety, but that's exactly what they were. Whenever someone is running late, my anxious self runs through a variety of “What if?” scenarios, while my practical self has to continually remind myself how not everyone is as crazy about punctuality as I am.
Over time, I have looked this anxiety straight in the eye and called it out on its bullshit. The more aware of it I am, the more I can control it, and the more I can keep it from controlling me.
But sometimes that's not enough, and this week that anxiety monster reared its nasty head.
So, right now my partner and I are knee-deep in the process of buying our first home. And as any of you homeowners out there already know: buying a house is stressful. There's an overwhelming sense of urgency with every decision. There’s the fear of spending the most money you have even spent in your life. And then there’s the worry about if you're choosing the right house.
Anyway, my day-to-day minor worries that I thought were locked up in a cage, had now developed into full-blown anxiety. I even had a bit of a panic attack last week.
Yep! You read that right. Me, the acupuncturist who treats other people’s anxiety for a living, had a panic attack. How's that for some ‘fraudy feelings’!
But, you know what? I'm OK. I worked through it. I reached into my bag of healing tricks, followed the advice I commonly give to my patients, and locked that monster back in its cage. Here’s how:
“BE HERE NOW”
Anxiety and worry have almost everything to do with the future and almost nothing to do with the present. So, I took some inspiration from creative coach Kathleen Shannon to acknowledge the present, and the emotions lying within it, more frequently. While I often rely on 10 to 20 minute-long meditations to help calm my busy brain, I started taking micro-meditation breaks by focusing on the present, even if it was just for 30 seconds to a few minutes.
I USED MY “PHONE A FRIEND” LIFELINE
Recently, I’ve realized that I’m a verbal problem solver. Lucky for me, my friend Greta was nearby when I started having a panic attack. I was able to get her attention and advice almost immediately, and talking my situation out with her was just what I needed to bring myself back to reality.
You don’t just have to sit in a lotus position to meditate. I’ve confessed here before that I prefer nontraditional types of meditation. What this looks like for me: Soaking in Epsom salt baths, drinking herbal tea, reading a book. This week I've been trying to read a physical book (no kindle or e-book!) every night before bed for 15-30 minutes to quiet my mind and let my brain produce normal levels of melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel tired and ready for bed.
CUT OUT THE CAFFEINE
I’m sorry to write this and I know that many of you don’t want to read this, but if you have an issue with chronic uncontrolled anxiety, stop drinking coffee… now. I know, I know, studies have shown that there are all sorts of health benefits from drinking coffee daily, but guess what? Coffee increases anxiety. I’m not saying that everyone needs to quit caffeine, or that I’ll never be able to drink a cup of coffee again. I’m just acknowledging that right now my anxiety is more out of my control than I’d like, and I prefer my sanity over my whole milk latte. Therefore I cut out all coffee, and switched my morning cup of black tea to a cup of decaffeinated green or herbal tea.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Did you know that April 1st was the start of 30 Days of Biking? Well, I’ve pledged that I would ride my bike - even if it’s just around the block - everyday this month. So that’s exactly what I did. After my mini freak out, I had 10 minutes of downtime before I had to leave the house again. I couldn't ride to my destination, but I was determined to get my cycling in that day. I hopped on my bike and rode around the neighborhood for a bit. I wasn’t able to ride very far in those ten minutes, but it was just enough time to clear my head and make me feel more centered. In Chinese medicine, we describe stress as a stagnation of energy. By physically moving my body on my ride, I invigorated and circulated that energy – allowing me to feel more like me when I got home.
So there you go. Those are just a few of the things I added to or changed in my daily routine to get my home-buying anxiety under control. Feel free to add them to your routine. They may or may not help you in your journey, but it never hurts to try.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Do you have advice for me or anyone else out there with anxiety? Share your story with me and let me know what’s worked for you.
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**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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