Sometimes when anxiety is rearing it’s nasty head I just want to curl up in the fetal position and hide from the world. I feel restless for no apparent reason and keep putting things off because I just can’t focus, which often just compounds my worried feelings.
For a long time I thought I was the only one that ever felt like this. I thought I was a freak that for some reason couldn’t manage life – even a really great life – like everyone else seemed able to do. I thought I was alone. Maybe you’ve felt like that before. Maybe you feel like that right now.
Well, get ready to feel like a normal woman who belongs to a successful, yet sometimes anxiety-battling tribe. I’ve rounded up five amazing, unique, talented women to share with you how it feels when anxiety is knocking on their doors AND best of all they share some tips for dealing with anxiety.
How does anxiety manifest in you (feelings, sensations, physical responses, behavior changes)?
Jenny Bones: While I have been able to overcome the debilitating depression brought on by early-childhood trauma, I’ve never been able to fully be rid of my anxiety symptoms. It ranges from just feeling tense/nervous to feeling like I’m having a heart attack. There’s nothing more embarrassing than being told by an emergency room nurse that you’re not dying…you just need a Valium. Oy!
Tara Wagner: For me it’s that tightening in my chest or that “restless” shiver that runs through me leaving me just wanting to throw it all away from me. It might feel like weariness or even distraction, when I just can’t handle it all anymore. Usually it’s just that chaotic flurry of thoughts in my head that make me want to pull my hair out.
Ash Ambirge: Anxiety is a mother. I typically get anxious when I feel like I’ve got too many balls in the air, and I can’t keep up with them all. And unfortunately, my body’s coping mechanisms seem to be to just shut down, as in, my brain gets foggy, I can’t concentrate, and I procrastinate the hell out of everything, which only further exasperates the problem. It’s incredibly demotivating, and frankly, I don’t have the patience for it.
Melissa Gorzelanczyk: Anxiety feels like I’m losing control. I feel I’m not getting enough air and taking deep breaths does nothing to change that. It makes simple requests or problems seem bigger and more irritating. If it happens at night, it’s hard to fall asleep. My mind seems like it’s racing with everything I need to do.
Tammy Strobel: For a longtime my anxiety manifested itself in a very unhealthy way. I spent about 10 years battling an eating disorder. And there were all kinds of physical aliments and emotional ups and downs associated with the disorder.
For the full backstory you can read this post: Empowerment is Not for Sale
What strategies do you use to move past anxiety when it arises?
Jenny Bones: When I eat right, drink less coffee, take in plenty of water and get outside I experience far less anxiety. Daily meditation is absolutely critical. I have a quick-and-easy breathing meditation I use if I’m out and begin to experience symptoms. I take slow deep breaths in, then release them slowly while silently chanting a personal mantra. This tends to anchor me back into the present moment and allows my lizard brain to slow down the “fight or flight” response that’s actually causing the anxiety.
Anxiety can be a self-feeding cascade. When we feel it coming on, we get tense and the symptoms get worse. I find it’s useful to always remind myself that these feelings are simply caused by a biochemical reaction and that I can literally just breath through it until the symptoms subside.
Tara Wagner: The practical do-this strategies depends on what the trigger is, but my first step is always back. As I take a step back I remind myself that everything I experience first starts within myself. So I DIG IN to that to understand it deeper and really heal it. When I am feeling calm, clear and reconnected I can see my next step forward…maybe re-prioritizing, filling my own cup or taking a break.
Ash Ambirge: Unfortunately, this is still not my strong suit – I’ve been experimenting with new things, but mostly, I’ve found the most success with cutting myself some slack, and realizing that I am *not* superwoman, and it’s *okay* if I can’t get everything done in one day. Once I give myself that reality check, and remind myself that nothing is life or death, it allows me to focus on one task at hand, and stick with that – rather than freaking out in my head about everything that needs to get done…and then not getting anything done as a result.
Melissa Gorzelanczyk: First of all, I recognize what’s happening. In the past, I tried to ignore what I was feeling, since no one wants to be out of control. Next, pinpoint triggers so you know why this is happening. For me, I realized my life was too busy. I needed to slow down and one way I’ve done that is by getting out of debt so I can work from home. If you have anxiety, find ways to simplify your life and schedule. Exercise is another awesome way to get back on track. A simple walk or run by myself can change the whole day. If I’m having trouble sleeping, meditating for five or more minutes really helps.
Tammy Strobel: I’m healthy now and have learned to manage my anxiety by:
- Practicing Yoga
Finally, if your anxiety is getting to the point where you can’t function seek help. There is no shame in seeking counseling for a problem.
Woo! Don’t you feel so much better already? Not only is it a relief to realize other women have similar concerns and worries, but now you have a whole new arsenal of techniques for getting rid of anxiety the next time it shows up on the doorstep.
I want to reiterate, though, what Tammy said and encourage anyone suffering from any sort of debilitating anxiety or depression to seek professional help – there is seriously no shame in that.
I also want to thank these women for having the courage and kindness to be honest about an often overlooked topic. When we share our true experiences we find a community, a safety-net, and a box full of useful tools.
Please help expand the community and safety-net by sharing this post. Thanks!
Photo by sportpictures.