Whenever life would get overwhelming growing up, I would retreat from my problems by pretending they weren’t happening. Instead of facing the problem head on, I would distract myself with too much TV, too much busy work, too much of everything. I didn’t know at the time that was what I was doing but it made sense and felt much easier to just disconnect from it all.
Later, when I developed an anxiety disorder in my early twenties, this disconnection no longer worked. I struggled through several panic attacks a day and quickly became nonfunctional. I can remember the last draw was when I was working and literally just blacked out. As a result, I knew I needed to find resolution instead of letting it bottle up.
While in my early twenties not many spoke of panic attacks. My Mom and I had to filter through a few doctors until we could find the right one. My Internist quickly said nothing was wrong with me internally per my blood work so it must be all in my head. Literally those were his words. I will never forget that day because I had a panic attack in his office with him present and you could physically tell with the amount of sweat and the racing of my heart that I was not alright. Most of the time doctors would quickly prescribe something to calm you and mask the symptoms and that is exactly what he did. I finally was referred to a Psychiatrist and the first thing she did was take me off the “chill pill” and put me on an anti-depressant. She mentioned what I was taking is considered a depressant and with time would make matters much worse versus fronting what was causing the anxiety to try to learn to make it more manageable.
Fast forward 20 years and I still struggle but have learned ways to manage it and not let it take control over me. There has been life events through the years where I know I need more support but now that I know these triggers, I can better manage without medication at times. Some days are better than others and it is never the things you would expect that trigger my anxiety when it comes on. High stressful situations, I typically am pretty great at. I can literally be in the middle of grocery shopping and it will sometimes trigger out of know where! Today anxiety is more socially accepted. If I feel this way, I can talk about it and that makes the biggest difference of all.
So how do I manage my anxiety? Everyone has their own ways but here are my 3 go-twos, my 3 things, my stress reducers that help me.
First , find something that connects you back to your body with physical activity. Find something that you enjoy and then get lost in it.
Over the years, my activities have been walking 60 miles, boxing, hunting, hiking, spending time at the equine therapy center, advocating, watching baseball, blogging, participating in adventure races and 5-10 K runs, raising hens and gardening.
Secondly, spend time outdoors. Being in nature is very grounding for me. Take advantage of feeling the breeze touch your skin, bask in the warmth of the sun, and listen to the birds chirping. My new favorite walk is 10 minutes from me and its miles of trails through the woods along the lake.
Through my journey with my sons autism and raising a teenager, I have discovered there are really great days and some really bad ones. I am blessed to have a very supportive tribe that surrounds me at all times. This would bring me to my third go two, BREATHE. When those not so good days become overwhelming, and it may seem easier to disconnect or walk away and ignore, remember to breathe. Take it slow, be kind to yourself, repeat 1 and 2 and allow your connection to nature transform you.
This weekend I am actually challenging myself to a weekend of solitude. Tomorrow evening I will be disconnecting from technology and enjoying a peaceful get away to renew, reset and release all my current worries. I have trouble calming the racing thoughts in my head and I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend in the woods filled with meditation, yoga, time in nature and of course good food, a massage and some wine. What more could a girl want?
I am thankful for my hubs, holding down the fort and giving me this time away. My hope, is to reconnect to myself and come back an even better mom and wife.
As Papa Kirk would say, peace out.