I feel like anxiety is such a blanket term. It’s so vague. I’ve experienced lots of uneasy, uncomfortable feelings in my life and I think its important to understand them more specifically than to just say, “I have anxiety.” Don’t we all experience some form of anxiety at some point or another? I want to know specifics. Feeling connected to others and knowing that I am not alone in how my emotions work gives me comfort, so right now I’d like to describe to you something that affects my life from time to time:
Feelings of unworthiness.
It often strikes me after something truly awesome has happened in my life: a new opportunity, things are going really good with work or my relationship. When I should be the most happy I feel this raging fear in the back of my head. I feel like I shouldn’t get my hopes up or get too attached to this new amazing thing, because of fear that it will go away, or not work out. It’s a feeling like I need to protect myself from disappointment or sadness by simply not engaging in my actual life. How ridiculous!
In the effort of protecting ourselves from being hurt what we really do is protect ourselves from the good as well. Vulnerability is the name of the game. In order to be open to the wonderful things in life we also put ourselves in the position to be hurt. The key is to have perspective and approach all things without judgement or attachment. To live completely in the moment and allow events, painful or joyful, to pass by us and to learn from them what we can. The only thing that truly exists is the present. The past is just a memory and the future hasn’t happened yet, so it isn’t real. When you put it that way, how pointless is it to sit here worrying about something that doesn’t exist? Pretty pointless. But it is the nature of our protective human brain to scan our reality for threats and try to avoid them. It is what kept us from being eaten by predators or from falling off of cliffs throughout all of history, but it also serves to make us pretty neurotic in modern day society with the massive amounts of information at our disposal.
So logically I know that my “anxiety” does not serve me, but what do I do about it?
- Eat a diet rich in plant foods. If you know me, you know that I believe in the power of a Whole Foods vegan diet and its incredible healing powers. When I am eating less processed foods, less sugar, less animal products, and more nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, I feel better. I am not feeding my body recycled energy that had to be processed by another being before me. I am getting pure, unadulterated sun power and that feels amazing.
- Exercise. Our bodies want to move! Getting exercise not only serves to help us keep our bodies strong but it also helps us to get more restful sleep, which helps alleviate anxiety. It also helps to calm the chatter in my head and align my mind and body.
- Moving meditation. Now I know that not everyone feels like meditation is for them, but I also think there are other forms of non-traditional mediation that can serve to help align our mind and body. Dance is one of them. Turning on music and allowing your body to move freely to the music can be more therapeutic than you had ever imagined. Just give it a try.
- Listening to personal development podcasts/audiobooks. I’ve said it many times before but I will say it again: what we consume we become. When thoughts of fear and doubt fill our heads, it is important to consume material that reminds us of our inner power. One of the best books I can possible recommend that reminds me to stay present is The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle. He reminds me that I am an eternal being having a human experience, and this fact alone is enough to calm my fears.
- HYDRATION! I think a lot of us forget the fact that our bodies are made mostly of water! It is critically important that we consume enough high quality water to keep us running at our best. This means water that is filtered to remove toxins like chlorine and fluoride. If you have treated water I highly recommend investing in reusable bottles that you can fill at your local health food store. Most places like this are aware of how contaminated our water is and have awesome filling stations.