How To Deal When You're Feeling Anxious

We interrupt this self-love series with a fresh dose of anxiety because…

You got anxiety? GIRL, me too.

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You call it anxiety, but I call it CRAY*. CRAY's when you want to scream and run and hide and pull your hair out all at the same time. It's that lump in your throat, that pit in your stomach, that pressing heaviness in your chest. It's when your heart is racing a million miles an hour for no logical (or seemingly logical) reason. You can't think, you can’t focus, it’s that you-can-talk-to-me-but-I-won’t-hear-you kind of attention consuming. So you stand up, you sit down, you look for anything ANYTHING to make it stop, to go away. But it doesn’t (well it does), but not on your time. Not fast enough. So you deal. Actually try to “deal”. Because is reaching for booze, boys, brownies, __ [insert your escape of choice] dealing or avoiding? Anyway, it’s hard to deal when there’s two hundred thousand thoughts, none of which seem to make much sense, swirling around your psyche. Some days it’s worse than others. You know what I mean? The closest way I can describe it is when you desperately want your brain to shut up or shut off but it WON’T. STOP. TALKING. Sometimes it’s subtle, like a constant worry that never goes away, other times it’s much more dramatic.

The funny thing about CRAY, or anxiety, or panic, or restlessness, whatever you want to call it, it’s a totally normal, totally natural, physiological response to heightened states of stress. Which, in a weird #ilovemyself perspective-y sort of way, is kind of good news. Because it’s a sign that your body (you know that badass, cosmic MACHINE you’ve most likely been hating on), is working.

Although it’s exceptionally uncomfortable, anxiety, aka CRAY, is nothing more than your nervous system, specifically, your fight or flight response system, kicking into high gear. To quote science (or something science-esque), “The fight or flight response is our body's primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from perceived attack, harm or threat to our survival.” During this state our pupils dilate, our heart rate skyrockets, our stress hormones surge and fear becomes the lens through which we see the world. We become prepared — physically and psychologically — to fight off an enemy or flee the scene as fast as we humanly can. Which is all great of course, and can save our lives, if / when there’s an actual threat.

The problem today however, is that our brain sends the same DANGER!! signal to our bodies when we’re actually not in danger. Assuming you’re like us and perceive totally non-dangerous things like punctuality, correct grammar, whether or not he likes you, and emails from your boss absolutely life-threatening.

In these 21st century instances — where our proverbial sabertooth tigers are iPhone dings, co-workers, and being cut off in traffic  — we do not flee, we do not fight, we do not run away from our perceived threats. We don’t actually do anything to physically exert our anxious energy. Instead we sit at the kitchen table, or in our office, or in traffic, and swallow it. We “control ourselves” (or try to, mostly). And so, that energy gets stored.

The solution then — because high-kicking your jerk boss in the face everytime he asks you to work the weekend is frowned upon by society and probably not the best way to react if you want to keep your job — is to healthily release that energy.

How to deal when you’re feeling anxious:

1.) Notice it.

Recognize exactly what’s happening in your body. With anxiety, it’s nothing more than an adaptive response at an inappropriate time. Annoying yes, but nothing to be afraid of.

2.) Breathe.

Slowly and deeply, like as deep as you can deep, straight into the tension. You’ll have this immediate impulse to want to control, to react, to escape, to do something (like pour a glass of wine or pop a xanax) to numb or avoid the discomfort. DON’T. Just wait. Breathe through it. If this has happened before remind yourself, “this too shall pass”.

3.) Reframe it.

Get some perspective. After 10 slow, deep, conscious breaths, reframe your thoughts about the “threat” by walking / talking yourself through the supposedly “dangerous” situation. Phone a friend if it helps.

4.) Move!

Move your body. Actively release that energy with exercise, preferably something that gets your muscles shaking like yoga, pushups, wall sits (which can totally be done in your office and in heels though we wouldn’t recommend the latter), or simple up‐and‐down jump movements like running, rebounding, jumping jacks (which cannot be done in heels), etc. Anything to help move the tension out of your body.

5.) Learn from it.

If anxiety is a persistent problem, be proactive. Remember, anxiety is feedback but doesn’t come carrying straight solutions. Use it as an open invitation to peel back the layers and take an honest look at what’s actually going on in your life. Ask: What are your triggers? What makes you anxious? What is the root of the anxiety? What is the real issue? What is the issue behind the issue? Once you’ve figured it out, do the work required to heal whatevers up. If you need support, get it. It’s that simple and that challenging but it’s up to YOU to begin. Start today by joining us AND thousands of women from across the world for Love Bomb Bootcamp, 30 straight days of radical self-love alchemy.

PS. We are not medical doctors, licensed psychotherapists or clinicians. We are not here to define, diagnose, or treat anything, nor are the recommendations and resources provided intended to propose, or offer to propose, a cure for anxiety, mental illness, disease or other conditions. If you are feeling overwhelmed by feelings of self-doubt and loathing or think you need additional support, please GET IT.

*PPS. CRAY stands for Crushing Relentless Anxiety, Yup.  

**PPPS. This post is part of our month long Self-Love series. If you're just catching up:
1. Self-Love Wins
2. Where Do YOU Fit Into Your Day? An Important Self-Care Reminder.
3. RIP To the F*&k I Almost Gave - The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*$k.

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