I’ve been feeling anxious today for no apparent reason. Last night I took a long country walk in the cool evening air and felt so grateful to finally be in a home out of the city. I saw two deer and picked many blackberries.
Today I felt anxious about just about everything: What to do first? Do I need to exercise more/less/differently?, Should I focus on physical tasks or mental ones first? Am I sharing too much of myself publicly? Too little? Try to resolve this anxiety alone or call a friend or mentor?
Then came comparing myself to others, and feeling embarrassed/ashamed/jealous…
My mentor suggested it’s adrenal exhaustion, which I’ve had for awhile. Being on 7 psychiatric drugs at once when I was younger completely shot my adrenals and they’ve been weak ever since.
As I started to work myself up, I made a few phone calls and did a few things. And I feel calmer now, so here’s what helped:
1. Taking the pressure off. This is soooo important. When you start comparing yourself to others, telling yourself you should be better/doing more/cooler/smarter/healthier yada yada yada, just stop. Lie down, breathe, it’s just one day, you can always go back to bed or spend all day in distraction, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world. You also don’t REALLY know what or how anyone else is doing, especially the ones you are comparing yourself to.
2. Once you stop the mean voices, replace them with something else. Find one sentence you can always replace self criticism with, and make it simple so you won’t forget. Mine is “I love you Chaya.” I repeat it over and over as many times as I need to to calm myself down when self-shaming thoughts arise.
3. Reach out. Call someone who will listen to you, if you have that kind of person. This can sometimes be hard and the right person isn’t always there at the right time. Try at least 5 people before you give up. If you can’t find anyone who is available by voice, or in person, texting or online chatting might tide you over.
4. Move your body very gently. When I’m super anxious, even thinking about a full yoga session can make me more anxious and go back into self scrutiny, indecisiveness and commitment-phobia. Don’t do a full yoga session (unless you really feel like it). Don’t even take out your mat. Lie in bed and do a few stretches and gentle movements. Hug your knees up to your chest. Rock your hips side to side. Circle your knees around.
5. Try EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique. If you don’t know how to do it, look up some tutorials, or simply tap of different parts of your body on both sides for now, while saying your feelings/fears and thoughts out loud. Then simply state out loud: “Even though I feel this way, I still deeply and completely love and accept myself” while tapping.
6. Take some calming herbs/supplements or drink herbal tea. I have a bunch of adrenal supportive herbs that my naturopath recommended (some of them I haven’t actually bought yet), but I don’t always remember to take them. The ones I took today (in tea) were licorice root, nettle and chamomile. I also took extra magnesium and vitamin C.
7. Rescue Remedy. This is a homeopathic calming agent which comes in lozenges or a little spray bottle. I often forget to take this too when I’m anxious but when I do, it helps. I like the lozenges, because having them in my mouth for awhile comforts me.
8. Get into nature, if you can. If not, even holding a stone or looking at images of nature/water can help.
These are “emergency” toolkit items. There are a bunch of other things you can do daily or regularly to improve your body’s ability to manage stress and anxiety like eating well, exercising hard and expressing yourself creatively. Good luck and please share with us what has been helpful for you when you feel really anxious and nothing else is working.