Happy 4th of July eve everyone, I'm so ready for a day full of family, bike rides, a parade and yummy food! Today I've been deep cleaning and doing my "Monday chores", you can see a little bit more about what that consists of in my previous posts!
Today's real subject I want to tackle is Anxiety. I had so many questions and DM's regarding this topic so I'm excited to share a little bit about my experience and things I've found to help me! I started having anxiety after our stillborn Crew in 2011, so almost 6 years ago. I was the girl who was going to move across the country and sky dive then became the girl that couldn't even drive next to a semi without being fully convinced it was going to somehow crush my car. That's not exaggerating, it got bad. I started having full on panic attacks where I was 100% sure I was having a heart attack. We went to ER a few times to try and figure out what was going on and the doctors would tell me, "It's interesting... your body is producing the same chemicals as a heart attack but your heart is totally fine." So they would run tests to try and see where it was stemming from. Long story short, I have Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism so my thyroid doesn't function on its own at all. When my levels are off at all even the slightest bit I am very prone to anxiety. If you know anything about thyroids and the levels they change every day and multiple times a day so dealing with anxiety became my new normal.
I've never been on anxiety medicine, not that I'm against it, I have just found ways to help myself through panic attacks and the daily anxiety. I had a few of you ask how I knew I was having anxiety, what the symptoms were. I worry about things that will most likely never happen, my heart races, I get chest pains and tightness, hard to breathe/fast breathing, numbness in my arms, feelings of panic and can't sleep. I am proud of myself and feel like I do pretty well 99% of the time and hardly ever have full on panic attacks anymore. In fact I hadn't had one in almost 2 years till a couple weeks ago then in the middle of the night it hit me. All the same symptoms as before, just as scary and it had been so long I thought maybe I really was having a heart attack. So Carl got up and walked around with me (laying in bed is the worst when you're anxious) and we called my sweet Dad who also has had thyroid and anxiety stuff and the two of them were able to help me calm down enough to finally get a little sleep.
So here's the helpful part for all of you babes that are dealing with similar issues, I have a few tips that I've learned over the past few years to help me manage and calm myself!
1. Learn your triggers:
My biggest ones are not getting enough sleep, too much caffeine and too much stress. I love to stay up late with Carl because most nights by the time we get the boys down, clean up the house, iron, work on Slouch beanies and orders it's pretty late but I want to spend time just hanging with him still. This is okay a few nights a week but I know in order to keep my patience and anxiety in check I need a couple early nights or to squeeze in a nap with the boys. I LOVE napping!! It doesn't happen nearly enough anymore in my opinion! Caffeine is big for me, my body is super sensitive to it so if I need a little pick me up I love the Bai drinks that have natural caffeine or a piece of super dark chocolate. I love like 85% cocoa dark... the more bitter the better! And lastly stress... we are all stressed, our lives are super fast paced and we have a million and one things to be doing at all times, my secret? I've learned to say NO and it has helped me so much. If a party, playdate, get together, girls lunch, whatever it is just feels like too much for that week or day I simply just say no. When I stopped over planning I felt like I had so much more control over my life, myself and my feelings and in turn more control over my anxiety.
I LOVE having a guided meditation app on my phone, that way I can take 2-10 minutes in the morning before I get out of bed, at nap time or before bed to kind of listen and reset my thoughts. My favorites are the Calm app and the Headspace app!
3. Taking time for myself:
Whether that is during nap time to just sit and think alone, running to the grocery store or a little walk by myself once the boys are in bed. These times are crucial to be my best self. They are simple, they can be quick or however long you have and they are better than a massage or pedicure for me!
4. Recognizing that it's just anxiety:
If any of you have ever had or do have anxiety you know this is easier said than done! Although anxiety does stem from chemicals being released in your body, it's partially a mind game and the more you give in or think about it the worse it gets. Carl can tell me a million times how silly or unrealistic something is I'm worrying about but until I convince myself it doesn't help. Learning to notice when I start to feel anxious before it escalates has been a big help! When I first start to feel my heart race or my chest get tight I start taking deep breaths and counting to 5 on the inhale and exhale. Also fun fact, when your heart starts racing bear down like you're trying to go potty and it will help to reset your heart. You learn something new everyday right?? Haha.
5. Essential oils:
I use Doterra oils and have for 6 years now, I actually started the same time I started having anxiety. I love Balance and Serenity, these two oils are always on my nightstand for easy access in the night. I apply them undiluted to the bottoms of my feet, on my wrists and behind my ears. They help almost instantly and also help with getting me into a deep sleep! My oils are some of my favorite and more beneficial things I own for me and my family. We apply topically and diffuse every day and they make me feel like a boss mom because I feel like I can help my boys in a more natural but huge way. It doesn't matter if it's emotional help, a bug bite or burn or a nasty cold they are amazing! Feeling in control of my life, my health and my mind I've found is my best weapon!
So tell me what are your go-to's? I want to hear anything you've found to help you that I need to add to my list! Let me know if you try any of these and how they work!