Anxiety and overwhelm - if you do not minimise them, they will minimise you
Today, I am keeping it real. If you have been following my blog for a while then you will know that I struggle with anxiety. Not in the “I cannot function” type of way, but unfortunately also not in the “I am only quirky at parties” way. Some days I am fine, and then others not so much. Lately, my plate has been overflowing, and my beaker of emotions as well. With all that has been going on in our lives feeling overwhelmed has kind of been inevitable, and I think it is safe to say that I am staring burnout in the face.
Although I am a tad melodramatic at the best of times, nobody can accuse me of being dramatic about my life. Not at the moment. I am trying to tone it down a bit, but even then I want to sit in the corner and quietly cry. So what can possibly be so bad?, you might ask. Let me tell you.
First, I hate change. Never been good at it, cannot process it fast enough to actually move with it which means I often still stew on what I have lost so long that I miss what I have gained. Keep that in mind, then focus on these facts: In the past 10 years I have -
moved house 8 times
moved my business 3 times
started 2 new businesses (so have 3 in total, with a 4th one in the pipeline)
had an operation
had 2 kids with a c-section
had a miscarriage and subsequently a scrape
got 3 new pets, lost 2
lost my father
And these are only the bigger things that happened to me personally. I have also had to deal with moving my Mom 4 times, once moving in with us for a few months, Husband has changed jobs about 4 times, finished my Master’s degree, finished my Marketing degree, Husband is finishing his MBA, plus all the toppings that kids bring to my already piled-too-high shit sandwich. As I said, this is the toned down version.
Right now, I am overwhelmed, stressed-out, and just in general not equipped to handle even everyday life. I did a quick anxiety test and my scores came back at 79 (76 to 100 is classified as extreme anxiety). You get my point? Overwhelm leads to anxiety, anxiety makes you feel overwhelmed. The two feed off each other, emphasising the most terrible parts of your life and allowing the most terrible parts of your personality to come out. Believe me, it is not pretty. It makes your body do funny things, like sweat and shake and feel hungry (or not at all), it makes you sleep a lot or not at all, gives you headaches, diarrhea and nightmares. It makes you feel as if you are drifting, with no anchor, and no harbour. Dry mouth, scatterbrained, oh and a loss of words! You forget to breathe, you feel no motivation to work, to exercise, to be.
For me, the place I get hit the worst is with my kids. I am short-tempered, irrational, unforgiving and fast to anger. There really is no nicer way of saying it, no sugar-coating the fact that, if not checked, I can create lasting damage.
They say that once you identify and accept that something is wrong, you can start changing it or at least start working on a solution. I know what is wrong but it is out of my control to fix it. That being said, I can try to minimise the damage, and because I try to stay as natural and low-impact as possible these are my go-to “treatments”:
exercise. I try to exercise at least 5 times a week, which includes 2 to 3 runs of 30min each.
meditation and mindfulness. Both have been proven to decrease anxiety by allowing yourself to experience the true essence of each moment as it really occurs, rather than what you expected or feared.
writing. Such as this blog post. It helps to put my feelings into words, and onto paper. There were I can edit the words, and with that edit the feelings. Sometimes when I read what I wrote I feel silly, and that can make me feel less anxious and overwhelmed.
time management. When you are already anxious, having as little as 2 things on your to-do list can make you feel overwhelmed. So I practise time blocking and I make very intense and detailed to-do lists.
CBD. Derived from the cannabis plant, CBD products contain all of the benefits without any of the THC (the chemical that makes you feel high). CBD has been found to lower anxiety, as well as a host of other benefits. It also helps with my arthritis pains, so win win for me!
aromatherapy - essential oils can do wonders. My favourite? Eucalyptus and grapefruit, with a splash of peppermint. Other oils that work really well include lavender, rose, ylang ylang and vetiver.
herbal tea - green, rooibos, chamomile, so many herbal teas are great for relaxation and clearing of the mind.
animals. Proven to be an effective treatment for depression, they work for anxiety as well. When I feel real low I get our little dog to lie at my feet. Just that, and that is enough.
yoga. The yogis have known it for eons, and they are right. Nothing quiets the mind like quieting the mind and using the body. I try to do at least 2 practices each week.
supplements. I take magnesium, omega 3 and a good probiotic.
get out! In to nature I mean. Take a walk somewhere green. The Japanese call it Shinrin-yoku, and it has been proven that being out in nature can reduce your anxiety and overwhelm.
diet. I try to eat as clean as possible. Currently I am leading a vegan lifestyle which is helping immensely not only because I am nourishing my body but also because it is giving me something else to focus on and forcing me to be creative when I am figuring out what to eat.
I wish I could say that it will get better. It will, but it will most probably not stay like that. Not because I am pessimistic or whatever other “negative” label you want to burden me with, but because life is tough and I am high strung. I get influenced easily (which is why I do not watch news), hyped up over nothing and take forever to come down again. Life is beautiful, yes it is - I can see that. I feel it intensely. And that is part of the problem.