Updated: Jan 4, 2021
Over the last several months I've felt super worn down and very anxious.
From emotional stress, to operating two small businesses, to working full time... to having adult responsibilities (generally speaking), my body and mind have felt super overwhelmed.
For as long as I can remember, I've pushed myself to my limits. Although my "higher" self (so-to-speak) knows better than to do this, my old survival skills sometimes take over and I can find myself in a routine that is not manageable or reasonable.
I noticed myself leaning on these old survival skills whenever I felt myself becoming stressed and anxious about the parts of my daily routine that I actually enjoy and need -- working out became a burden and writing became impossible. That's when I knew I had to make some changes... and quick.
Most of the time to warm up for a workout, I'll jump rope for 15 minutes to Playboi Carti radio on Pandora. (#DieLit) That's one of my favorite stations to listen to for a workout, or to get hype in general.
However if I notice myself feeling like the warm up is too much, or if I feel like the radio station amplifies my anxiety -- I know that I need to take a step back and reevaluate what's happening in my brain.
In order to make a healthy change, I decided to start going on walks again (around 3 miles). Walks are super calming for me and allow me time to relax; however, I love them because they feel nostalgic.
In college, my best friend KP and I would go on long walks when we had a day off from softball practice. It was a great way to stay active and let our bodies rest, while also doing something that was enjoyable and calming. We we laugh, talk about life, make jokes... maybe even do a few covert operations. #DontJudgeUs
Whenever I know I need to recenter myself, I have to bring myself back to an emotional space that is grounded in love. Most of the time, our strongest emotional memories are tied to a physical one as well. The action of doing something and feeling something can be so strong that it can help bring you back to a place of peace.
Obviously this can be used in both healthy and unhealthy ways, but if we're able to tap in to the healthy emotional spaces and actions we can help recenter ourselves.
Yoga for Anxiety
My anxiety can manifest itself with very psychical symptoms - my joints can get really swollen and start hurting, my chest can ache, I will get more frequent headaches and I won't be able to rest well or sleep at all.
When all of these things start happening at once, I know it's time to get my life together and doing -- sometimes that means calling my therapist (which I did) and sometimes it means I need to add another physical activity in that isn't harsh on my body.
What was the result? Yoga for anxiety.
Admittedly, I haven't done yoga consistently in yearsssss -- my trainer during the summers, Mr. Chris (he's an AMAZING human), would make me do yoga once a week to improve my flexibility and balance so I could be faster. I hated every moment of it because I have never been flexible and it was so, so difficult.
However a few years back I was super stressed and knew I needed to stretch and release tension from my joints and muscles. I went on the prowl and found I found an amazing YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene.
Adreiene has a range of yoga practices that can help beginners to even the most advanced practitioners. My favorite of all her videos are the simple, 30-minute yoga routines that help alleviate stress and anxiety. She provides a few different breathing methods and gently guides you through poses and stretches that truly open up your body and mind.
I have started doing these again in the comfort of my own home. This time has truly helped my body feel better, but really given my brain a space to not think... (partly because I'm only thinking of the physical pain that comes from my inflexibility).
I've also started implementing yoga for bed -- it's a 12-minutes video that combines simple stretching and breathing to help prepare your body and mind for a good night's rest. Between these two practices, my body and brain definitely feel lighter.
Intentional Time for Prayer and Meditation
I like to sit in the shower. I also like to take 30-40 minute showers... maybe three times day.
My obsession with cleanliness can get a little out of hand, but I primarily like showers because they have always been a safe haven for me.
After a long day (or after any day really) I come home and immediately get into the shower. I like to rinse the day off and listen to the water... and do absolutely nothing.
However since the shower feels so safe and calming, I know I needed to use that time more wisely. Therefore, I've started to implement prayer and meditation during my showers.
I have neglected the prayer and meditation part of my life for a little while now - definitely since I've felt overwhelmed. Sometimes when I'm just trying to feel "normal" or survive, I can neglect the things that keep me grounded because I'm just trying to catch up.
However, re-implementing intentional time to pray and meditate has helped me stay centered on gratitude and connected to what I want most in my life: peace.
The first five minutes of any prayer, I try to focus and thank God for what I'm most thankful for and what He's given me. The next five minutes I try to just be brutally honest - regardless of what those emotions look like, or what those thoughts are. The next five minutes I pray and think about the people who need help, restoration and healing -- then try to think of ways I can reasonably contribute to the cause. Lastly, I take time to think about and dream about what I want my life to look like -- and how I can make that happen in a small way during the day.
Although this seems like a super small step to feeling less overwhelmed, it's helped tremendously. It makes me focus on myself, my healing and my journey, rather than the journey of other people or on the things I can't control.
What I've Learned
Over the last several weeks of these changes and new routine, I've re-learned the importance of taking care of myself and the importance of the little things. Our bodies, mind and souls must be the focus of our attention because without those things, we can be the best version of ourselves for the relationships we have with ourselves and others.
Take care of yourself on this Tuesday, you deserve it!
LOVE U, MEAN IT
What are you doing to take care of yourself today?
Where are places in your life where small changes could make big differences?
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