Anxiety

Anxiety, is a very sensitive subject with many.  It has a wide spectrum of its debilitating effects on those lives it touches.  It has been a hot topic item with those around me lately and so I wanted to shed my own light on it.

In my own personal experience anxiety stems from my own fears and insecurities.  For instance, when my boyfriend and I had our first summer together he had a week where he was gone to be a camp counselor.  Despite knowing how much he loved me this week apart caused me a large amount of anxiety.  Add to the fact he would be traveling with one of his camp counselor friends who was a female – enter self-doubt!  I had anxiety about the trip because I lacked confidence in the fact I was loved.  I had anxiety about the trip because of my own insecurities from my past relationships.  My boyfriend was not the cause of my anxiety; my past and my own self-doubt were.

When I can realize my anxiety, and recognize it is occurring I choose to take a good hard look at myself.  I ask myself why am I anxious?  What is causing this?  In doing so I might realize that it is because I am having to present in front of a huge group of people.  This makes me uncomfortable and is causing me to be anxious.  It may be the fact that I haven’t said what I truly have felt in my relationship with a friend or my boyfriend.  Holding in emotions can be a huge anxiety trigger for many because we keep our emotions in so we are not judged.

Anxiety also comes from our environment and from those people we surround ourselves with and the people we follow on social media.  I believe to a certain degree that everyone is empathic and can pick up on other people’s energy that surrounds them.  I know that I am empathic and am capable of being drawn in by the energies of those around me.  Have you ever been in a good mood and then encounter someone who is very stressed out?  Do you sometimes start to then feel stressed out and you don’t know what’s causing it? It is huge to recognize what is your own and what is not, I have had to ask myself some days is my anxiety my own or someone else’s?

I also make it a point to follow positive influences on social media or individual’s I feel bring value to my day to day.  As feelings of self-doubt cause anxiety for me I do my best to surround myself with individuals who are “real” in their posts.  What do I mean by “real”, I mean an individual who will post the good with the bad and can share even when they aren’t “perfectly posed” because let’s be honest real life isn’t like that.  Even in my own group of those I interact with daily I have those who I can reach out to when I am having anxiety.  They will then ask me the question of is it yours? If it isn’t let it go, if it is why are you having anxiety?

Being active in any way can curb anxiety whether you choose weightlifting, horseback riding, running, yoga, walking or any other form of activity.  There have been many studies conducted that physical activity helps with anxiety and depression.  I used to weight lift and currently my go to is Yoga, when the weather is nice in Maine running might be on my list.  My go to physical activity, especially when anxious, is not always the same.  It depends on what my body is craving, sometimes it’s a run or walk no matter the weather because I just need a change of scenery.  I will state though; my anxiety has never been helped by digging through social media or on my phone.

If I am unable to be physically active when I am having anxiety another practice I have put into place is being more thankful.  I will take a piece of paper, or in my planner, and write down what I am grateful for in that moment.  For this year I actually purchased a Five-Minute Journal that I write in every morning and every night.  If I have anxiety at any point in the day I remind myself of what I was thankful for that morning.

It is also okay to just take a day and sit with yourself and utilize these tools.  There are days where anxiety just breaks you down and gets overwhelming.  I had one such day when this occurred and it made me realize I needed help, I needed third party to talk to because talking to my family and boyfriend just wasn’t cutting it.  Sometimes that is what it takes and its ok to admit to needing to speak to someone.  It took me a while to recognize this, and that it was okay to see someone.  I bought into the fear that I would be judged for seeing a therapist and that those around me would be heavily concerned if I began seeing one.

Anxiety is real, it can be debilitating and frustrating.  My post again, is here to hopefully speak to you the reader in recognizing you are not alone.  If you follow my social media I try to be very honest and “real”.  There are many out there who also suffer silently with their anxiety and don’t have a fix but I hope that my post may help them in no longer being silent.

Never Say Never

What happens when you say the word never?  Can you think of instances when you state this word?  Let me give you a few:

  • I will never jump out of an airplane
  • I will never like sushi
  • I will never go camping when it does not include plumbing
  • I will never go hiking
  • I will never sleep in a tent
  • I will never settle
  • I will never do yoga and be able to calm down
  • I will never run a 5k
  • I will never meditate
  • I will never forgive this person

Guess what?  I have said every single one of those statements, those are all real life examples from my very own life, every single one, with the exception of jumping out of an airplane, is no longer valid.

Now this may just be the Brené Brown or Gabby Bernstein coming out but when I use the word “never” it always is in a negative way.  There is no positive thinking that occurs when I have used the word never, most often it is from disgust, defensiveness or stubbornness.  Over the last few years I have realized how much saying the word “never” limits me.  By stating that I would never do something I was preventing myself from being open to new opportunities and lessons.

In another post I’ll talk further but I have dug a lot into mindfulness and how your thoughts create your reality.  By stating sentences with “Never” in it I was immediately creating a wall, I was shutting down any opportunities that may come forth.  For years I told people I would never do yoga because it was too slow for me, I thought I’d injure myself and that I thought it was boring.  Quite honestly I just thought I would embarrass myself with my lack of flexibility and also not get the “body” I thought I wanted.  By this sentence I limited myself from being more conscious of my bodies abilities, from a stress reliever, and a community I never knew existed.

I have recognized to not state these sentences that limit my thoughts, actions and opportunities.  After dating my boyfriend for two years we had the opportunity to hike Mt. Katahdin.  This hike was the second hike I had ever done in my life, lets be honest I had big dreams.  I trained for six to eight months (think stair stepper, a lot of the stair stepper) at the gym wanting to ensure I prepared my body for what was to come.  Mt. Katahdin was one of the scariest, eye opening, and emotional things I have done in my whole life.  It took us 12 hours and at the end I collapsed on a picnic table and cried.  Cried from pent up fear from the trail (Knife’s edge, it’s called that for a reason) and from the fact I completed something I said I would never do.  This experience was one of the biggest examples I have to date that if I had continued to say “I’ll never do that” I would not have the memories I have now and I wouldn’t be able to count it as one of my biggest accomplishments.

When people ask me if I’ll do something or try something most often my response is “Maybe not right now but never say never”.  To be quite honest I thought I would never complete in a obstacle race, this past November I completed my first ever Spartan Sprint race.  I found out about it from my friend who was pulling together a team, I read the information, said “Why not, f**k it, might as well” and signed up then and there.  I didn’t do it for time, or to see what I needed to improve upon.  Quite honestly I can’t say I trained “properly” either but I did it for fun and to see what I could do.

I think when you say sentences including “never” you limit yourself from those experiences.  You limit yourself from the potential to say “I did this, I can do it again”.  I challenge you to do your best and Never say Never again.

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Your Influencers

You know you’ve heard it from the adults in your life, let’s just count an adult anyone your parents age or older.

The friends you have, the people you spend your time with, make you who you are.

They help mold your ideals, your thoughts, your morals. I have had my own experiences as well as witnessed people I grew up with influenced by people around them. Now, if you are reading this and saying to yourself “I’m not influenced by any one,” good for you!  I ask you to just keep reading anyway, or you can just stop here, it’s up to you I won’t be offended.

When we are kids your family is your influential group. My parents influenced me to enjoy classical music, especially Andrea Bocelli. My mother influenced me to enjoy cooking. My dad has had me on a computer since I can remember, so his influence has helped me to be fluent on a computer much earlier on than most.  My sister influenced my ideals of friendship and was my first friend.  I won’t say there weren’t times I wish I didn’t have a sister but more often than not I remember pointing out that she was my sister and being proud.  I wasn’t someone who disliked having a sister and was never ashamed to say she was mine. 

As I got older my friends also became influences on my life. They influenced me to swear, they influenced me to lie to my parents, which was never successful by the way. They influenced me to judge people, most of all judge myself.

I judged myself every morning, before I would let them judge me. I beat myself up before they could. I can pinpoint when I started to really have self-image issues in fifth grade. I had cut my hair incredibly short, so I got called “mushroom head,” at that age you think no big deal they’re just kids.  Those words though have lasted to this day, since then I have cut my hair just as short twice, until most recently.  While writing this over the last year, I cut my hair down to a pixie cut.  I had been debating it for a year and then decided Memorial Day weekend that I’d call my hairdresser and if she had an appointment that day I’d do it and guess what…SHE DID!  It was a HUGE change and with curly hair I looked entirely different from those other girls who had pixie cuts.  It has been a test of my self confidence and has been a whole new learning curve the whole time.  It took me almost twenty years to feel comfortable again in my own skin and with my own identity to cut all of my hair off.

Learning to love myself again “without” the hair that has defined me for so long has been thrilling and scary.

Throughout my life and especially during this phase of short hair, my self-confidence has wavered from okay to down right gross, always comparing myself to other girls. At one point, when I was younger I felt so gross, so low, so poorly about myself that I thought cutting myself would cause relief. It did not, but it happened because of media influences as well as the people I had around me.  I saw others around me handling their anger, sadness, and depression in that way and thought, “Why not try it?”.  After that I was incredibly ashamed and swore I would never do it again.  I realized that self harm, physical self harm, did nothing except hurt and gave me a physical reminder of the low point in my life.  Why would I want a reminder of that?  Why would I want a reminder of a really low point instead of having a reminder of something happy?  Now don’t get me wrong, there are many I know who have these scars and look at them as growing pains, they went thru something and made it out the other side.  

**In no way am I stating that self harm is okay or acceptable to deal with things that are going on in your life.**

I am merely acknowledging that it happens to many whether it be cutting, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, eating disorders and any other type of harm one can cause to oneself.  I recognize it occurs as something that we feel we can “control” but many times I have seen where it ends up controlling someone.

As I’ve gotten older, I have begun to recognize and see when people influence my thoughts. In college, a few people I spent time with, were incredibly judgmental of others and I began judging people again. I felt gross when I did it, I knew it wasn’t right and I knew it wasn’t nice.  I didn’t like how I felt when I did it because again, I then began to judge myself.  I won’t lie, it’s sadly human nature to judge however, I now choose to fill my life with people who choose to be understanding and acknowledge no human being is perfect. I work very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt and to not judge them on how they look, how they dress, how they talk, or how they act.  

People around us influence our thoughts, actions, and emotions in many different ways.  If you continue to fill your tribe, support system, group, friends etc. with people who are constantly in fear, doubt, shame, sadness, nervousness, and negativity most often that is what you begin to feel like.  If you surround yourself with people who admit their faults, honest, kind, happy, positive, accepting; you find yourself reflecting those things back and living your life a bit differently

As Thumper said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Try it, give yourself a month, look at your friends and see who has a good outlook on life versus the one’s who are a bit more negative. Try spending a week solely with the friends who have a good outlook, then spend a week with the friends who are a bit more down. How do you feel? What are your thoughts like? Are you happier with one over the other? If you can’t tell after a month give it a little longer.

You do not HAVE to do this, it’s food for thought. It is to get you to think, if you can change how you think about yourself by who you spend time around shouldn’t you try it?  If you’ve had your own experiences like this share them with me!

Instagram: @beyou_findyou
#beyoufindyou
Email: beyoufindyou@gmail.com