Can I be Anxiety Free?

Anxiety can sneak in when you are least expecting it and rob you of any ounce of joy. What is it? Where does it come from?

anx·i·e·ty (noun):
  1. a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

This should explain why it makes me feel like electric wires are loose and randomly zapping my insides. My emotions are unstable. I can’t think straight. I’m disorganized and find it difficult to stay on task. Suddenly, I can feel as if my life is not as amazing as it really is.

There are certain events and interaction with specific people that bring on anxiety for me. Christmas is one that comes leaping to mind.

Each year, the two weeks leading up to Christmas send me into a flurry of activities. Between finishing work projects before my kids get out of school, planning class parties, moving the elf, buying gifts for everyone, organizing work parties, managing our social calendar; hitting up all of the reindeer sightings, Santa spots, museum exhibits, locating every positive memory inducing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take the kids to and wrapping presents… I lose myself.

I become so overwhelmed with all of the things that I “think” I need to do, the things others are counting on me to do, the weight of my children’s childhood memories and the normal day-to-day schedule that I am miserable.

This can manifest itself in others differently. I have a friend that is responsible for a parent, a spouse and a child that all have health disabilities that severely impact their level of anxiety on a daily basis.

Regardless of how it settles upon you, know that all hope is not lost. In fact, I became acutely aware of my event induced anxiety and started taking action. Some of the things that I did were simple but had a noticeable positive impact on me.

  1. Review the activity/situation. Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do.
  2. Separate what “needs” to be and what is optional.
  3. In most cases, evaluate the amount of responsibility you put on yourself.
  4. Essential oils like lavender, frankincense, calming and de-stress in a diffuser help impact your mood. I often use Women’s balance at work.
  5. Acupuncture. I can’t emphasize this enough. I did it this year and I specifically asked her to focus on my anxiety.
  6. Exercise. Do something you love. If you don’t like interacting with people, do something quiet, or something with smaller classes or attend an office gym and wear headsets. I love hot yoga. No one interacts. It’s all about your personal journey.
  7. Prayer. Counter the physical with the spiritual.
    I have been reading in my devotional and came across this:
    “Anxiety gains a life of it’s own, parasitically infesting your mind. Break free from this bondage by affirming your trust in Me and refreshing yourself in My presence.”-Sarah Young, Jesus Calling
  8. Massage. Increase your serotonin levels. There are very inexpensive places (about $25-$30) to get acupressure “foot” massages that are full body and you can leave your clothes on (if you are weird about that side of massage).
  9. Watch what you eat. Less caffeine. Less refined sugars. Less processed foods. No food dyes, if possible. Give your body a chance to reset and heal.
  10. Probiotics. Gut health seems to connected to our overall health. I am Celiac so I am on a gluten free diet all of the time, but I still can have bad gut health based on what I eat, medicines I take and colds. So, I take a daily probiotic.

I hope you can find some relief with these suggestions. They worked for me and I was able to enjoy my Christmas this year, in the midst of my chaos. I now know it’s possible and I hope others will find joy in their journey as I have.


The Superhero approach.

Are you a list maker? Do you need a fresh clean list of items to accomplish before you can get started with each day? Do your lists have lists? I know the feeling! I caught myself making a master list with categorical sub-lists (based upon areas of life) and realized that my lists were actually causing me anxiety.

Yes, lists can be helpful and they do assist in dumping your brain at 3:00am so you can finish sleeping without the anxiety of possibly forgetting to fix the handle on the toilet. They also help us schedule out and plan. But they can become cumbersome to productivity when over used.

What do I mean? Well, have you ever found yourself adding items to your lists just so you have the satisfaction of crossing them off right away? They are now effectively unproductive. How about when your list is so long that you feel it can’t be accomplished? It’s hindering productivity.

I suggest (what I call) the superhero approach to lists.

Have you ever heard Batman, Spiderman or Superman talk about how they were going to do fifteen line items before they jump into battle? No. They simply pick the most pressing matter and jump on it. Literally.

I have also found that taking the non-pressing items and scheduling a spot on your calendar for completion can be extremely effective. Make calls in one hour time slot. Run errands during lunch. Pick a project that will take more time and schedule it, like your kids tae kwon do, on the calendar and stick to it.

Hopefully you will have some relief from the anxiety of lists and the pressing to-do’s in the coming weeks. Now, it’s time to put on my cape and fly into battle.