Anxiety shows up in many different ways. The past year and since the beginning of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, I have noticed that my anxiety is at its peak during the first few hours when I wake up. When quarantine first began back in April 2020, I had a very hard time with not doing anything. In this society, we have normalized having a busy schedule, and never having time to just be. Being that I am used to that way of thinking, I tried to find ways to keep myself busy instead of surrendering to the idea of rest. Allowing myself to rest at the time meant that I was not doing what I was supposed to do based on societal standards, so I started to have so much anxiety about what to do everyday when I woke up. This was at a time when I had no job to go to, no friends I could spend time with and movies and restaurants were all at the time.
Lucky for me, I had been working with a therapist 5 months prior to the beginning of the pandemic, and I was able to talk about it with her. I started allowing myself to accept that quarantine was out of my control, but also I can as always still be the narrator of my story and reactions in my life. With the advice of my therapist, I started to explore my emotions and figure out where these anxious feelings were coming from.
When I first began dealing with my anxiety, I had very little knowledge of the ways anxiety showed up in my life. Over the years, I have learned my triggers, and while paying attention to my body I have been able to care for myself a lot better. I also have been giving myself so much more grace when it comes to how I deal with situations that are not in my control. I like to remind myself of the things that keep me feeling good, and focus on those. Anxiety can have you feeling trapped at times, like you have no control of yourself and the thoughts that are being played out in your head. With first acknowledging that I'm not feeling myself, and then affirming that I want to feel differently and better about things, I do the following three things to get myself feeling like myself again:
Prioritize having a sleep schedule
I am a person that thrives the best when I have slept 9 hours of sleep. People who know me know that when I am in a space of taking good care of myself, sleep is prioritized. I like to get in bed no later than 10pm, because I'm someone who loves an early rise. I feel my best when I am up before sunrise or to put it simply when I rise with the sun. This does not always happen, so my solid goal and mostly doable wake time is 7:45am.
Get the body moving
Exercise is one of the best tools I used to help reduce my anxiety. A lot of times when I am feeling anxious, I notice the feeling is usually stagnant. The feeling is either heavy on my chest, my feet or other parts of my body. I believe that anxious energy doesn't flow, it stays stuck in that one part of my body almost having a hold on it. To move this energy around and get rid of it, I move my body. This allows the energy to flow through and out of my body. I move in many different ways. Over the past year, I have really come to love taking hikes out in nature. Some morning when I wake up anxious, I simply acknowledge it, and then I proceed to find a nice place to take a hike. I love breathing in the fresh air, listening to the animals, and simply being outside with nature. Other ways I move include yoga, dancing and resistance training. These all just make me feel so strong and confident.
With everything going on, find ways to come home to yourself
Grounding myself is a very important tool I use to reduce my anxiety. The past 18 months we have watched the world burn, saw deaths, saw people fight for their lives, witnessed an ongoing pandemic. All of the uncertainties about the state of our world can take a toll on us. All of it has drained our energy, and the best way to be in control of it is to find ways to come back home to yourself.
If you're an empath like me, it might also be hard for you to separate the feelings and emotions of self from the rest of the world, but for your mental health I urge you to find ways to do so. Some of the ways I do this is by reducing the amount of media I consume. Yes, it is important for you to be up to date on the state of the world, but you need to know when enough is enough. Set a limit to how much social media or news you consume daily. I also try not to look at the news or social media first thing when I wake up, or right before I go to sleep. When I was consuming too much news, I would always either have bad dreams that wake me up during the night, or wake up with a heaviness on my chest. Another thing I do is journal before bed; take everything you've seen throughout the day and write it on paper so that it is not being played out in your head. Meditation is another tool I use to bring myself back to my body and connect mind, body and soul. I like to do a bedtime meditation for at least 15 minutes before bed. The best one to do for a grounding practice for me is a body scan, where you bring focus to your body parts from head to toe and check in with yourself.
Life is always uncertain. Lately it feels like we have no control over anything, but at the end of the day I like to remind myself that it is not always the case. The most control we have is our reactions to life itself, how we respond when we hear good news, or how we feel when an unpleasant situation arises. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, and then simply let yourself move on. I know that's easier said than done, but remember that you've lived through all of the difficult moments so far in your life, and this moment will also pass. Free yourself from the idea that things are always supposed to be perfect or one way, and you will be able to enjoy more of life as it is. Right now is the right time,and it is where you belong. To everyone going through hard times, I send my love to you. You are never alone. I am so happy that you are here, reading this post... this is your sign to let go, and enjoy life.