10 Tips To Help Anxiety

Hi friend. Let's talk anxiety, shall we?

First, I have to take a step back for a second. This post was originally written & ready to launch on Monday. I had written about how 2020 didn't start off exactly the way I would have imagined it for our family & how sometimes the start of a new year can actually feel more intimidating than motivating.

However, then the unimaginable helicopter tragedy, with Kobe Bryant, his daughter & 7 other beautiful souls, happened on Sunday and it just shook me to my core. There are no words. My heart aches for everyone involved & those grieving. I knew I couldn't make this post live without addressing it & all the intense emotion that comes with it, a major one being anxiety.

Although I am still processing it all, the incredibly sad crash definitely served as a very strong reminder that tomorrow is not promised -- we only have this day, this moment, RIGHT NOW. How are you going to live for today? Who are you going to hug more & bombard with kisses? Who do you need to say "I love you" to? We need to DO ALL THE THINGS, live our best life & continue to lead with love... and we don't need anxiety to get in the way of it.

In general, we all experience anxiety on many different levels & at times, it can be very crippling.

Anxiety IS REAL, as is the struggle it creates.
However, there are ways to acknowledge & better manage anxiety.

I have come so far in this journey that I wanted to share with you some of the top tools & tips that have helped me, in hopes that they may help you, a loved one or whoever may come across this.

Before I share the tips, here's a quick snapshot of my dance with anxiety throughout the years:
>> In my late 20's, I experienced some anxiety that looked like a combo of high-stress, self-pressure & occasional shortness of breath. I remember my boyfriend at the time telling me that I have anxiety & I thought he was crazy. In my head I was just over-worked & tired (which I was), but I didn't realize at the time how much those factors contribute to feeling anxious.

>> After becoming a Mom, anxiety decided to take on my everyday -- with a newfound lack of sleep + birthing a HUMAN that relied solely on myself & my husband to survive, my anxiety went into overdrive. It took on a whole new meaning & felt almost suffocating at times. I was constantly batting fear thoughts. However, this time around I was aware of my anxiety & began exploring ways to release & manage it.

>> Then, just 6 months ago, my incredible Dad became sick out of the blue. He was in & out of hospitals, doctor visits, ER visits, procedures, hospice and then passed away in October. My anxiety crept back up, but this time took on a different form, especially after he passed. I had to realize that I was evolving into a new version of myself & also get past the trauma of what had just happened so abruptly right before my eyes.

Below are some of the things that have helped me when anxiety strikes.

I learned this saying early on from one of my besties (who also happens to be an incredible therapist) :

CANCEL (my fear thought)
SURRENDER (to what is best for me)
RELEASE (all that is not)
ALLOW (all this is good)

and at first, merely saying those 4 words when a fear thought came on would help me stop it in it's tracks. Although, as my anxiety increased post having our first baby, saying those powerful 4 words helped... but not for as long. That is, until I realized that if I just CANCELED my thought & immediately after started thinking what I was GRATEFUL FOR (which could be absolutely anything), my anxiety would subside almost entirely. I would feel peace & thankfulness. It is so true, you cannot be fearful & grateful at the same time. So next time, in the midst of fear, angst or stress, CHOOSE gratitude! And of course, CANCEL, SURRENDER, RELEASE & ALLOW.

Listen, I'm going to tell you a secret. NO ONE actually likes to workout... that is until they find the RIGHT workout for them & then become totally OBSESSED. It's true!!! & this secret, friends, can be LIFE CHANGING & BETTERING in countless ways. You just have to find what works for you & it doesn't have to be grueling (in fact, I am a huge advocate of 30 minute workouts). Once I made the conscious decision that I was going to make exercise a priority again in my life (meaning more than 1-2 times a week ), I started with at home workouts & then eventually headed back out into the world by reincorporating barre, yoga & bootcamp classes (because I LOVE them & the variety). Hands down, making the time to MOVE & SWEAT, will not only make you feel better, stronger, healthier -- but most definitely help you feel less anxious. Getting in a workout is truly like an instant destresser. So, start moving your body, today!

Anxiety (for me) is usually driven or ignited by some sort of fear or worry within, so the best way to stomp out fear & worry is to bring it to the light. By bringing a loved one into your fears & anxious thoughts, not only are you literally releasing them but you are also finding a way to make them less intimidating, as well as have someone to be there for you & hold you accountable if need be. For me, whenever I am having anxiety induced fear thoughts I know that if I call up a best friend or confide in my husband, I feel literally 80%-90% better almost instantly. I know it sounds crazy, but try it next time! You'll see.

Getting enough sleep is such a game changer in many ways, especially in the world of anxiety & mental health. Scientists have found that a lack of sleep may play a key role in activating brain regions that contribute to excessive worrying. Neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation fires up areas of the brain associated with emotional processing! Basically, sleep loss increases anxiety (you can read more about it here). Since realizing this, I have been able to pause when having anxiety creep up & ask myself, "Did I get enough sleep? Am I tired?" If the answer is "YES" then I know to take pause & realize that my anxiety is most likely due to that. Sure enough, I make sure to get a nap in or get to bed earlier that night & wake up feeling refreshed, anxiety free.

For me, having faith & something that I can put trust into, is such a comfort to an anxious heart. Even if you don't know where you stand in your faith journey, finding time to be still, meditate & pray can do wonders! I find a lot of peace when I read a good devotional to start my day, or listen to an inspiring podcast or make time to pray (which to me is just having a conversation with God) or meditate. I also find great release when journaling & writing.

This is one that honestly deserves a whole post in & of itself, because although therapy has become a bit more acceptable in today's society, there is still, unfortunately, some hesitance that comes along with it. I'm here to tell you, friends, therapy is THE BEST, especially when you have the RIGHT therapist. Please hear that again! Finding the right therapist for you is KEY. Those who have a great therapist are shaking their heads "Oh, YESSS" right now. When you find the right one, you 'just know'... it's true. Being able to go to my therapist & tell her everything that is on my mind, or weighing me down, or making me fearful, or stressing me out -- or WHATEVER it may be -- is not only helpful because I get to just let it all out to her, but also because she can give me sound advice or viable tactics to combat whatever it is at the time. My husband & I are firm believers of the power of therapy (with the right therapist) -- even when you think you have "nothing going on" or "nothing to talk about", having at least a monthly appointment to check-in is so important. You'll be surprised at how much you actually had to talk about, too.

What you put into your body on a daily basis can go hand in hand with how we FEEL. Personally, I definitely notice a difference when I have my off days & am not eating as well as I normally do. The good news is that it's really easy to get back on track. Try aiming to eat your fruits & veggies FIRST before you eat the rest of your meal to not only make sure you get them in, but to also fill up on all their goodness. Another must is making sure you drink half your body weight in water every day. There are countless benefits to staying hydrated and how that not only helps keep your anxiety at bay, but helps your entire body & mind thrive! According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry, the brain & heart are composed of 73% water and the lungs are about 83% water --- yes, you can read that again!! You can see a neat chart about ALL of the incredible things water helps us do on a daily basis here! Don't take it for granted & start making it a priority today. Fueling your body with adequate water intake & empowering nutrient rich food will help everything function better and in turn, reduce stress, worry & of course, anxiety.

How do you begin your day? Are you making the time to fill your morning "cup" up with things that inspire you? I have found so much power in setting my day up by taking the time to read an inspiring quote, verse or devotional. These small acts actually make a BIG difference when it comes to setting your intention for your day in a positive mindset... & a positive mindset helps keep our minds on the right track, with less room for unnecessary worry. Also, being able to turn to things that easily life up my spirits help ground me when I am feeling more anxious -- so it's a complete #winwin.
Here are a few things that I enjoy if you are looking for some good doses of daily inspiration :
>> The Universe Has Your Back Card Deck
>> "The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse"
>> "100 Days to Brave"
>> "Start Today Journal"
>> "Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions For Kids " (yes, it's technically for kids but my husband & I have really been enjoying it ourselves even though we do have the adult version ).

Whether you believe in essential oils or not, in my opinion you won't know if they could work for you if you don't at least try them. For me, after discovering the many healing benefits of Essential Oils after having our first born, it was a no brainer to give them a try to help ease the stress & anxiety. However, I just can't stress this enough -- be sure that you are ONLY using essential oils that are 100% therapeutic grade and/or organic! You don't want to be putting essential oils on your skin or inhaling them if they have hidden synthetic chemicals in them. #nothankyou My personal favorite daily go-to's are Joy & Stress Away by Young Living (I literally put a roller bottle on top of the actual bottle & roll away!), as well as KORA Organics Heart Chakra (which is on a super sale right now, btw ). I apply these daily as needed, directly on my wrists, side of my neck & even a little on my heart. The key is consistency!

Gandhi said it best when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” It couldn't be more true. By making being & serving others a priority will not only give you a new found sense of appreciation for what you have, but also allow you to almost unintentionally leave your worries at the door. What transpires when you give of yourself to others is something that is truly magical and unfortunately, we just don't do it enough. We are human, right? We find excuses. We feel like there isn't enough "time". Just the thought can even overwhelm us at times! However, what I have found is that there are opportunities to serve others every single day in our day to day. Keep a loaf of bread in your car to give to someone in need the next time you see them. Smile & make conversation with the elderly woman standing in the grocery line with you. Take pause to hold the door open for anyone & everyone, anywhere you go. Reach out & text a friend you know could use a friendly "hello, how are you? I'm thinking of you." Offer to make a meal for a family who just had a baby or is going through a hard time. The truth is that serving others & community is always right at our fingertips... we just have to be open to making it happen daily. It takes a bit of pause & some time, sure, but when you open yourself up to these opportunities, it's pretty amazing to see how anxiety cannot take ahold.

As this quote reads,
“There is a direct correlation between our happiness and our love for others. The more we think of ourselves, the more miserable we are. The more we think and focus on others, and strive to develop a sense of lasting love, the more happy we are.” — Richard Ashton

Below is a quick & easy list to turn to with this tips above if and when anxiety strikes!
Lastly, I just want to be sure to say this -- anxiety is not a one-size-fits-all. We all experience it in different ways & I'm aware that some of my techniques above may not apply to you & your life as it has in mine. However, even if you walk away with ONE new idea to help you tackle your stress, worry & anxiety, I think that's pretty awesome.

The older I get, the more and more aware I am of how we are all in this together. We are made uniquely, but we are united by our TRUTHS. The more we share, the more we let go, the more we grow.

It's not linear... there will be ups & downs, but if you keep choosing to pick yourself UP, that's more than half of the battle!

I am so honored to be on this journey WITH you all.
All my love,

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