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This past week I could FEEL the collective anxiety globally. Do you know what I'm talking about? Like you wake up and you can just FEEL that something is off. This Global Pandemic has so many people stressed, fearful and in survival mode, it's a real challenge to separate yourself from that energy, even if you want to.
A couple of years ago, I would have chalked this sensation up to the fact that I deal with generalized anxiety disorder and here we are living in an anxiety-inducing situation. But I know myself better than that now. I know better than to just keep trucking along when these feelings hit. So the last couple of days that I was experience this chest-tightening, throat-closing anxiety, I tuned in and got really quiet so I could get to the bottom of these feelings.
I wanted to share this really vulnerable and honest session with you today in the hopes that it helps you feel less alone. That it gives you permission to also go within and ask yourself the important questions to get to the root of why you're feeling the way you're feeling.
See, we only have a few basic needs as humans, but they are VITAL and when they're absent, it triggers survival mode for us, better known as flight, fight or freeze, wherein your sympathetic nervous system kicks in and prepares you for survival. Your digestion stops, your libido drops, your platelets thicken just in case you need to clot your blood quickly (yes, your body is this smart). Your heart rate quickens, blood pressure shoots up and specific hormones are secreted like cortisol and adrenaline.
And all of this can happen in an instant where our basic needs aren't being met as humans. More specifically, if we don't feel safe, seen, heard or loved, we panic.
Think about when you're trying to talk to someone and they're ignoring you on their cell phone. And no matter how many times you call to them, they refuse to acknowledge you and look up. How does that make you feel? Triggered, right? You don't feel seen or heard.
When someone breaks off a relationship with you and moves on before you're ready to do the same, how does it make you feel? Triggered, right? You don't feel loved or valued.
So this week, when my anxiety felt really uncomfortable, balled up in a knot in my chest and throat, and I felt nervous and scatterbrained and my memory was crap, I knew that there was a deeper game at play here, and not just "feeling anxious" just because.
So I took to my journal and meditation practice, as I often do, and what I found was an interesting insight that I wanted to share.
So what led to my overwhelm and anxiety this week?
We ran out of groceries. Just ran plum out. And I was procrastinating going to the grocery store because, as you know, it's not THAT enjoyable of an experience right now. So not only did we not have groceries, but there were a couple days when I didn't eat properly to keep my blood sugar stable, which contributes to mood swings and hanger for me.
I received the wrong package in the mail, after waiting 3 weeks for my supplements to show up. And while I was understanding of the delay, I felt frustrated and anxious at the thought of having to wait another 2-3 weeks until I'd be able to drink my daily shakeo again. It makes THAT big of a difference for me personally.
I tried to pay my taxes online, but the website wouldn't work. And when I tried to call the bank, the number had been disabled. And when I drove to the physical bank itself, there was a line up of about 20 people trying to get in to have their needs resolved too.
There were tech glitches that occured for my clients and I, which made communicating daily more challenging, but because the IT team was so bogged down with other peoples' tech issues, I wasn't able to chat with someone to get it figured out and resolved.
And then there are the flights that still need reimbursing, the trips that still need cancelling, the being on hold for 2 hrs and then the line dropping, and it just feels like everyone is so busy and unable to take your call to help you handle an otherwise not-really-a-big-deal kind of situation.
It's not that these are life or death situations either. On a grander scale and in a different scenario, none of them is a big deal, truly. I recognize that. BUT, when you add in a month of social distancing, anxiety-ridden condo neighbours and supermarkets and news and fear and judgement to the mix, it heightens everything and for me, led to emotional distress in the form of anxiety this week.
And I realized that it was stemming from this basic, primal need of mine as a human to feel safe, seen, heard and loved. And I wasn't feeling any of those things from the outside world. And because I was so focused on the outside world, I also wasn't GIVING myself those things to feel either.
Enter anxiety and feelings of overwhelm over seemingly not-big-deal issues that my body and brain were seeing as THREATS to my existence, which kicked in my survival responses.
So, what did I do to feel better? Because naturally if I'm chatting about this now, I must feel better, right?
I did a few things and I wanted to share them in the hopes that they help you too.
1) I put my phone down for 24 hrs. Yes, put it down. Left it at home when I went to get groceries, didn't touch it for an entire day. I find when I don't unplug for a day or two each weekend, my brain starts to feel extra foggy and I'm less me than usual.
2) I got outside and went for two walks a day all weekend. Spending time in nature just BEING is so important to me, and even more so if I feel anxious or unsettled.
3) I listened to soothing music and binaural beats in my headphones to keep my breath steady and calm the last couple of days and I made sure to meditate morning AND evening.
4) I drank tea instead of coffee the last few mornings to limit caffeine intake, since it can tip already-high cortisol levels and made sure to eat more greens than usual.
5) I straight up PLAYED outside, running and being silly with my family dog. I let my hair down and I acted like a 6 year old, not caring who saw me like that.
6) I JOURNALED my little heart out, making lists of things I am grateful for, lists of things I'm looking forward to and an organized schedule for the month of May.
7) Bran and I made homemade pizzas and listened to our favourite playlist while cooking, laughing, kissing and dancing in the kitchen together. That helped immensely.
8) I started watching a new show on HBO and have really enjoyed the first few episodes. Just allowing myself to CHILL and watch some TV felt really good.
9) I also stuck with my daily commitment to myself to push play on a beachbody workout, meditate, journal, eat mostly nourishing foods and read / listen to personal development. These are the habits that have helped me the most over the last 5 years, so I'm disciplined about them.
10) I also cleaned my space and decluttered my closet, getting rid of any clothes or items that no longer bring me joy or serve me.
Those are some of the best practices I know and truly, within 24-48 hours, I already felt EONS better.
I'm curious, what are some of your best practices for ditching anxiety and overwhelm??
I do have a free meditation for when you feel overwhelmed a couple episodes back.
Let's connect over this?
Shoot me a DM @mariebarkerwellness on Instagram.
You're not alone my friend.
And as with all things, this too shall pass.
I just wanted to give you the gentle reminder, in case you needed it like I did.
Until next time, live on purpose.
PS - Need a little help in the anxiety and overwhelm category? Did you know I have a short, powerful online course called "Stress Less + Learn to Meditate" that helps you do just that?? It's also ON SALE! Woo! Win win for you my friend! Check out the details HERE! Don't be shy to reach out with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org!