Anxiety! What does that mean to you? How does the word make you feel? Perhaps you have experienced this yourself or know someone who is going through it. Anxiety has played an important role in shaping who I am today and it has even created the passion and the opportunities to do the work I do now – which I love.
My anxiety story has been a journey and is still going as it ebbs and flows with the changes and shifts that I choose to make however through my journey my anxiety has helped me reconnect to myself, to care for myself, to love myself!
Anxiety to me is a message from your body that something is off, that you need to slow down and reconnect with yourself to address stress and emotions you may be feeling. As we know anxiety is a result of stress and that stress can be caused not only by physical, emotional, relationship or financial stress but also by what we think, what we eat and what we do. I was 21 when my anxiety appeared and at that time I was a student who took the recreational side of varsity seriously – I was a social butterfly and loved going out which meant late nights, lots of drinking and not caring much about what food I was consuming as long as it was in my budget. Little did I know my body had had enough and this was its way of telling me. The anxiety became unbearable and eventually I needed to take action, I watched a documentary called “Food Matters” one night after having an anxiety attack and I had my AHA moment – if food and your habits could cause you to experience anxiety then they could just as easily be used to alleviate your anxiety.
This is what my body had longed to hear, what it needed. It needed me to care about it, to love it and in a sense to start loving myself. It took a few years of shifting, experimenting and learning but I cleaned up my diet by removing alcohol, caffeine and other trigger foods, starting making better food choices (I had always been a healthy eater but was not an intuitive eater to what foods worked for my body). I took up yoga and other forms of daily exercise and started taking care of myself – really stepping up for myself so I could feel my best.
After a few months I started to feel the shift and I noticed I was being kinder to myself (minimal negative self-talk) and was enjoying getting to know myself. I was learning how to take care of myself and that meant learning what I liked and what choices best served me and my body. Through this shift my anxiety disappeared. About a year later it returned for it’s second stint but I knew what had to be done and made self-care my top priority. I starting including a daily meditation practice, writing a gratitude list and repeating affirmations to myself as well as exploring other health issues that had arisen along with the anxiety - these were gut & hormone related. The issues had manifested into anxiety and this journey was although different was still one of self-exploration and self-love. I spent eight months focusing on myself and as quickly as the anxiety came, it disappeared!
Showing up for yourself when you have anxiety is one of the most beautiful things you can do & I invite you to try it whether or not you are struggling with anxiety. Just doing one simple thing a day that you love it’s a great way to reconnect and show yourself love & care – it’s as simple and as easy as that!
Some simple ways you can start practicing self-care is to:
- Set boundaries. It’s ok to say no to people, places and events that may make you feel worse.
- Slow down. Adding more to your plate to distract yourself will not benefit you in the long run.
- Rest. It really is ok to take a break.
- Block time out. To make sure you spend some time with yourself book it off in your diary and be sure to inform your family or partner so you won’t be disturbed
- Spoil yourself. Choose a few simple activities that you love to do whether its reading, baking, walking etc. and do one of these daily.