Dealing with Anxiety & Pulling Yourself Outta That Funk
Post vacation gloom? Yup, I am feeling it hard.
A week and a half ago, I was lucky enough to head to Hawaii for a family wedding, and my trip was simply ah-mazing. I didn’t want it to end. My days were full of sun, relaxation, nothing in particular to do, and time spent with Jared and a whole lotta family.
So I guess it isn’t particularly crazy that the day I was supposed to leave, I was hit with major anxiety and panic. It was the same feeling I felt on Sundays (and after a while, Saturday afternoons) when I was at a job that completely stressed me out. I was trying to enjoy the moment, but my mind was so wrapped up in worries about the future that I was unable to fully live in the present.
At the same time… it sounded silly to me (and extremely self-indulgent) that leaving this trip (one that I was lucky enough to go on in the first place), was taking such a toll on me. But here is the thing about anxiety… It really doesn’t care. And that is always half the struggle. You “know” in your “logical” mind that how you are feeling may be a bit “silly” and a bit “self-indulgent.” But at the same time, we have to realize that it is okay to feel the way we do – our emotions are valid. Even though they may not always be ideal. Even though they can be tough to handle.
The real key is in learning to deal with these emotions productively.
Working through feelings of anxiety is never easy. I completely get it. So here are a few tools that I want to share. They have helped me immensely in the past, and I pulled them out on that last day in Hawaii so I could fully experience the little time I had left on the island:
Take deep breaths
Breathing is completely under-rated. Fully engaging with the rhythm of your breath can do wonders – even if all you have is a minute to spare.
Focus on all five of your senses separately
Fully experience the moment by reaching out with each of your senses individually (smell, sound, taste, touch and lastly, sight) and giving them all of your attention. This can help ground and center you.
Make a positive affirmation
Sometimes making an internal commitment to yourself that you are going to have a good day can make all the difference. Your mindset is everything, and you can completely turn a day around with this simple practice.
There is no better way to work through tough emotions than to journal. I am a total convert to the practice, and it does wonders for me. Try to take a few minutes to jot down how you are feeling, start to explore the cause behind it, and figure out how you can change your outlook to better serve you.
Catch up on sleep
One of the factors that was amplifying my feelings of anxiety was lack of sleep. I hadn’t had a solid night’s sleep since the day I left, and it was definitely taking a toll on me. Once I got back from work the day I flew home (unfortunately it wasn’t any sooner), I took a verrry long nap. And I woke up for a little bit, and slept again. The next night, I slept for 12 hours straight. I don’t function well without sleep, so catching up on it for me is a must.
Create a plan of attack
Adjusting your outlook so the experiences that lie ahead start to look more enjoyable is key. Anxiety is, in essence, worrying over the future. So, yes, I can accept the fact that it will probably be a little difficult to come back to the Midwest in February after 7 days of 80 degree weather and beaches everywhere you look… Clearly! But I could also bring back with me some of my favorite moments from the trip and incorporate them into my time at home. Long walks, plenty of acai bowls, meditating in relaxing places and exploring new places.
So I did exactly that.
Friday night I went to the grocery store, bought a ton of fruit, veggies, lean meats, ingredients for acai bowls and a nice bottle of wine. I watched a documentary I had been looking forward to, meditated and stretched. I made an acai bowl each morning (check out the recipe here) and took a long walk on the lake, taking pictures as I went.
I feel so grateful to live in this city I call home. Even in the middle of February, I could easily find its beauty and appreciate all it has to offer.
Putting these tools to use after cultivating them over years of experience certainly helped pull me out of my post-vacation doom & gloom – and I know they will help me again in the future. And I am extremely grateful for that. Because life is too short. Too much of our time is spent wasted on worrying about the future, and dwelling on the past. Not enough time is spent focusing on what is happening right now, this very instant. It is a beautiful world, and there is so much we can do with the moments that lie in front of us.
As Elizabeth Gilbert so aptly puts it in her book Big Magic, “Life is short and rare and amazing and miraculous, and you want to do really interesting things and make really interesting things while you’re still here. I know that’s what you want for yourself, because that’s what I want for myself, too. It’s what we all want.”
Cheers, friends. Happy Sunday!