Punching Anxiety in the Face

Remember Dane Cook? What happened to that guy? Whatever he’s doing now, this bit always makes me laugh uncontrollably.

I know I haven’t been around these parts much lately. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking, because we have a CSA box that can’t be ignored. Or that I haven’t been eating, because I’m not one of those people that ever “forget to eat.”

But I’ve been questioning what I’m doing here on this blog, what m goal is, why I’m writing. What do I really have to say?

When I started this blog, I’ll fully admit that I was attempting to emulate so many of the successful big “Healthy Living Bloggers” out there. But then I realized those running shoes were a little too big for me to fill. In real life, I also tend to be really open about my life, and myself but doing it on the Internet feels a little exhibitionist. The line between share and overshare is faint for me.

But what is the Internet for if it isn’t for taking risks? This post isn’t about food. But it is about living healthfully mentally and emotionally.

So what do bees and sharks have to do with anxiety? Well more than you might think. Anxiety can be scary, like bees and sharks. It buzzes around in the background and then stings you suddenly, unexpectedly. It can be vicious. Anxiety can smell doubt the way sharks smell blood and will go after any weakness.

So is the solution to never have any weakness?

No way. That’s impossible. Doubt is normal. Heck, anxiety in healthy amounts is normal. It’s only a problem when the first thoughts in your head upon waking and the last thoughts when going to bed are negative and anxiety ridden.

Or when decisions seem too overwhelming so you don’t make any.

Or when sitting at home in front of the TV eating chips/cookies/ice cream/dinner past the point of hunger.

Or when you don’t even do that – you just go to sleep because it’s (hopefully) the only place where your to do list doesn’t seem so monstrously long and people appreciate you and you don’t want to rip your hair out.

This is not a picture of healthy coping. And I say this from a place of full authority having been there. And lately, I’m feeling open to talking about it. Too often these feelings stay in the shadows and we put on a happy face while there’s a feral cat shredding us inside. There’s hope yet to tame that cat.

I’ve been dealing with this for 10+ years and sometimes it still takes me a few months to realize what’s happening. That I’ve been snapping at Alex more. That I’m obsessing about my body and how much I eat (my past relationship with food wasn’t great and it pops up when I’m feeling anxious). That I’m tired all the time and that I’m taking everything way too seriously.

Once I finally realize what’s going on, it’s time to take action. Here are my tips and tricks. Maybe you’ve heard them. Maybe they’re new. But remember that you have to find what works for you and in no way am I saying that these things will. But maybe they’ll give you an idea of what could!

1) Cardio

This last bout has been lurking in the background for a while, almost ever since I ran the marathon. And then in the last few weeks I realized that I was doing cardio only a few times per month. I’ve been walking, and lifting weights, and doing yoga, but I haven’t been running. Or hitting the elliptical. Or doing kickboxing. The other day I was feeling down and I hopped onto the elliptical for 20 minutes with a magazine. Was it the hardest workout ever? No. But I felt a hell of a lot better afterwards.

2) Yell

I get in the car. I blast music. And I yell. Loud. Then sometimes I sing at the top of my lungs until I’m hoarse. Don’t have a car? Turn on the shower and yell there. That usually mutes it so the neighbors can’t (really) hear you.

3) Get out of the house

From our hike this weekend

I can’t tell you how many times my mood could have been lifted by simply putting on shoes and going for a walk around the block. Or walking to get ice cream. Even if going for a walk seems unfathomable, at least step outside. The fresh air and new perspective can be life changing.

4) Get lost in something – a book, a movie, a TV show, work, whatever.

Read five million magazines if it makes you feel better

Many times when I’m feeling anxious in the morning, being at work actually helps because I have to stop the endless reel of worries to focus on getting shit done. These are not the moments to try and read Dickens (unless that’s truly your thing). Use these moments to indulge in a trashy romance novel or a magazine or a really poorly written but entertaining mystery novel. Turn on the TV. Pick a half hour funny show that will get you out of your head. Just do something that moves you away from the thoughts if only for a little while.

5) Ask for help.

This one is tough for me. Admitting you feel like crap, especially when in comparison to most of the rest of the world you shouldn’t, is really hard. But sometimes just having someone say, “wow, I didn’t know you were feeling that way. I’m so sorry,” is enough to remind us that we actually aren’t alone. Maybe it’s a doctor or a boss. Maybe your closest friends know what’s up. Maybe your partner, even if they have never dealt with these things, is incredibly patient and supportive. Find someone who will be empathetic but will also say, “what are you going to do about it?” A simply endless cycle of venting only has limited benefits. But finding someone that can empathize and THEN help you think of solutions is someone to hold on to.

So that’s what’s up for me lately. That’s what I have to say. Maybe it’s overshare. Hopefully even if it is, it’s helpful to those of you out there that read this. And now I need to get my ass back in the kitchen to create something tasty to share with all of you!

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6 thoughts on “Punching Anxiety in the Face

  1. I’ve been feeling anxious lately too. This is a good reminder. Cardio always makes me feel better.

  2. I hope you’re feeling more yourself now.

    You’re right on with cardio being a great method for relief. I am not a huge health buff or in shape at all, but the few hours a week I used to spend on an elliptical made me a much calmer person. I finally got a treadmill a few months ago it is awesome for helping me get more restful sleep. I had been going without a good workout routine since I moved into my place, and honestly that was a mistake.
    I still wish I could fit a giant elliptical machine into my tiny home – 30 minutes on one and I feel happily exhausted. Running isn’t really my thing, but a treadmill is the most practical way I was going to get any cardio in my daily routine so I’m happy for something to do the job.

    • Slowly but surely, I’m getting there. Elliptical machines are amazing – I have just rediscovered them (like I mentioned). Good for you for figuring out what works, even if it’s not perfect. Too often I let “it’s not perfect” mean “I’m not going to do anything.” It can be tough to get over that.

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