“I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety in order to be light and free.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
There is so much noise and overwhelm these days it’s almost impossible to not feel crippling anxiety on a regular basis.
With a march of commitments, appointments, and obligations that never seem to end, we’re a nation of chronically stressed and overwhelmed.
We often spend our lives in a rush, running on autopilot, completing task after task until we finally collapse into bed utterly exhausted. Amidst the noise and demands our minds are scattered, in a perpetual state of thinking, planning, regretting, and worrying.
Hence the anxiety—a normal response considering how little time we spend in our bodies, grounded, connected, and still.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. My sensitive nature and rough childhood undoubtedly shaped me. Chronic fear and anxiety manifested as perfectionism, people-pleasing, and perpetual shame. I didn’t feel that I belonged with my family, friends, or the world.
I learned to treat myself just as badly as others did. I was my worst critic and abuser. I felt broken, unable to navigate these huge feelings of fear and shame on my own. Surrounded by negativity, aggression, and chaos, I closed my heart and disconnected from myself.
Motherhood cracked me back open with a force I was not ready for. I wanted to give my children the kind of love and safety I was deprived of as a child, but the stress of raising three little kids was overwhelming, and anxiety kicked in full force. It took me years to recalibrate my mind, reconnect with myself, and find my footing again.
There’s a gentle way out of habitual stress and overwhelm, but it requires our full presence and attention, and developing new habits that will help us heal and change.
With practice, we can transform our lives through small, incremental changes that can shift our lives away from chronic stress and anxiety toward a more adaptable and peaceful way of living.
While we have little control over most things in life, certain things we do have control over, and that’s what we need to focus on.
There are many body-based ways we can control our stress and reduce cortisol levels, like cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and refined carbs, and getting quality sleep and exercise. But those alone will not shift you out of anxiety. You have to tackle what goes on in your mind as well. Here’s how.