A few years back I was struggling with immense anxiety. I was a new wife, a new mother, in a new town, without friends or family for 60 miles.
I was already a massage therapist at the time but due to my new found high anxiety and old habits of poor stress management, I didn’t feel comfortable working on anyone.
Massage was my “thing” and I couldn’t even do it.
I felt worthless.
It was quite sad to see in the mirror what I once thought was a beautiful bubbly girl turn into a nervous, anxious, angry woman.
A few things contributed to my imbalanced lifestyle:
- My diet sucked. I was consistently not taking care of myself. Over and undereating were both issues I had to work through. I never really felt good.
- Don’t even get me started on mood swings. My physical state was affecting my mental state.
- I was anxious and high strung. I was worried and struggling to get through daily life.
- I was self-medicating by eating or not, drinking, smoking, spending money etc. I had band aids. I practiced avoidance. And I made sure to let everyone know…“I was fine.”.
Then my body SHUT DOWN!
Illness set in to almost every system of my body, ONE AT A TIME.
I knew that would not be my life! I knew that if I didn’t change the way I live, I would feel like the majority of Americans. Stress, malnourished, and… SICK!
I started to look for REAL answers.
I had been burned by western medicine as a teen and adult so I decided to search for a whole body, mind, and spirit treatment for the root of my issue, not the symptomatic branches.
I began to read and practice dozens of eastern wisdom, holistic care, and Self Help books.
From poses to philosophy and goal setting to mindset, it’s all the same. I just needed to read the same thing like 400 times before change could really set in.
Besides my little self-study, I have been studying my clients and friends for the last 9 years to see what we have in common.
- We are ill-equipped to deal with and manage common stress.
I’ll keep it simple here, most of us were not taught (in school or at home) how to manage stress.
- We live in a society that encourages and requires sitting for most of the day.
Think about it for a moment. Even if you are extremely active, think about how often you sit.
Maybe we weren’t “raised” with stress coping skills or conflict resolution skills.
Some of us have been relying on schools, TV, or pharmaceutical companies to tell us what will make us feel better.
Whether you have been relying on them or not, the majority of us SAT in school, and SIT in front of the TV, and will be sitting and waiting forever for the pharmaceutical companies to stop creating more band aids and give us solutions.
DON’T sit around waiting anymore!
Now is your time to take your stress into your own hands.
Read this 400 times right now and save yourself years of not listening to the same thing over and over and over.
The goal is balance and finding/creating things in your life that promote balance. Here’s how I am doing it!
Step 1) Have and develop a daily routine.
"You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine."
— John C. Maxwell
Every book or article I have ever read about stress management encourages a daily routine.
This is where make time to set your intention and goals for your day. Include in your daily routine a self-care practice. A time for you to give your body what it needs.
I practice yoga in the morning. A gentle practice that allows my body to move in many different ways to help calm and focus my mind before beginning the day.
Yoga helps you access an inner strength that allows you to face the sometimes-overwhelming fears, frustrations, and challenges of everyday life.
Anyone can do just a few minutes of intention setting, pared with movement and deep breathing, no matter the age, size, or stress level.
Step 2) Let go of negativity and self-sabotaging behaviors.
This is where positive thinking and challenging your thoughts comes into play. Replace negative, stressful self-talk with positive, empowering self-talk.
In the articles and books I have read searching for change or growth I noticed that developing a motto, or as we call it in yoga, a mantra, is one of the best ways to overcome negative thinking.
Find a saying, a word, phrase, or scripture that helps you realize your self-worth and all the positive and wonderful things life has to offer you.
Use your mantra or motto to practice letting go of outcomes, expectations, and negativity so your mind is prepared to manage negativity throughout the day.
You may be surprised at how changing your outlook on stressful situations or events can change your life. Every situation presents opportunities to learn and grow.
The more you focus on the positive aspects of the situation, the more control you have over your stress reactions.
Step 3) MOVE toward your goals!
Boredom and lack of “positive” stimulation are key factors in stress, anxiety, and depression. When we feel “down” our performance and likelihood of reaching our goals goes down too.
Even if you don’t have a particularly interesting job, or maybe your favorite hobby requires lots of sitting you can still find movement throughout your day.
A few Yoga exercises practiced daily gently release tension from the large muscle groups, flushing all parts of the body and brain with fresh blood, oxygen, and other nutrients, and increases feelings of well-being.
The cool thing about yoga is that you don’t have to whip out your mat and devote an hour to a practice. You can add yoga movements and stretches to your day anytime. Squat by the copier while you wait on it to print. Stand up and stretch your neck while documents upload. JUST MOVE! Oh and breathe!
When you begin to move regularly you will notice changes in your life almost instantly.
I hope that this blog has helped you understand that stress is inevitable but is also manageable.
We all deserve to live a life with meaning without being drained physically, mentally, and even emotionally by our mismanagement of stress.
Perhaps we were never taught how to deal with stress. Maybe we have a predisposition to anxiety.
Whatever the cause, it is time to take control of your stress, your anxiety, your LIFE!!