Taming The Beast | My Battle with Anxiety

I always love to write personal posts but they are often the hardest to write.  I think because it requires vulnerability to share these types of things.  Anxiety is something I have battled with for years.  I remember I had my first panic attack at a NKOTB concert.  I felt panicked and sweaty and nauseous and wanted to leave immediately.  Crowds and spaces with lots of people still give me anxiety.  Hospitals give me anxiety, planes and flying give me extreme anxiety, bridges, people I love dying, my kids getting sick, the list goes on- so many things make me anxious.  It is something I battle with and deal with sometimes on a day to day basis.

Throughout high school I continued to have panic attacks.  They would sometimes just come on out of the blue and I would literally feel like I was going to die.  Heart racing, sweating and a sense of impending doom.  Literally the worst feeling ever.  Then they got better and I didn’t have them as much.  I don’t remember really ever having them in college. However after I had Sterling and Frances Moon I started having bad anxiety again.  Not so much panic attacks but just feeling anxious and worried about every little thing.  I think the enormity of being a mom and being responsible for two kids brought back my anxiety.  I worried constantly about them.  If they had a cough I always automatically thought the worst, like it’s pneumonia or RSV.  My mind would go crazy playing out horrible scenarios.   That is what an anxious mind does it always thinks the worst.

Then my divorce propelled my anxiety to another level.  Divorce is such a difficult thing to go through especially when children are involved.  I had so much anxiety and worry about what I was putting my kids through.   I would wake up in the middle of the night with my heart racing and feeling panicked.  It is such a horrible feeling.  I find for me personally my anxiety is always worse at night.  I think because I am busy during the day at night when I try and chill it creeps in.  My minds races and stresses about everything.

I recently started seeing a therapist not just to talk about anxiety but about living my best life and bettering myself.   She said something that really resonated with me and that is the anxious mind hates uncertainty.  It explains so much about me.  I like to keep a full calendar always having plans and things to look forward- that way my mind is always busy and it keeps it from worrying.  Some people say I have zero chill because I am always on the go wanting to do something.   I know that is why my divorce worsened the anxiety because my future was unknown.  It terrified me thinking about starting over again and not knowing what my future would look like.  It would send my mind into a tail spin trying to grasp for anything solid.  I know through all struggles come self growth and happiness but sometimes in the midst and darkness of it all it seems impossible.  But you just have to keep going day by day.

Anxiety also makes you second guess everything.  I am always questioning my decisions, it can be be exhausting.  It is almost like you never trust yourself.

The key to taming anxiety is controlling your mind and thoughts which is sometimes really hard to do.  Taking a step back and realizing a panic attack is just that helps.  When I start to feel panicked I remind myself you didn’t die before you won’t die now, this too shall pass.  Taking deep breaths also really helps to slow down your heart.  If you feel totally overwhelmed talk to you doctor while I have never taken medicine for my anxiety I know some people truly need it so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I wanted to share a few things that help me, in hopes if you battle with anxiety it will help you too.

ONE | EXERCISE

This is huge and has helped me so much.  I have always done some sort of exercise just sometimes not that regularly.  At the beginning of the Summer I decided to start back running and it has helped me so much mentally.  I decided to run for 21 days straight because they say after 21 days that creates a habit.   It worked, I used to make excuses to skip workouts before and now I do everything in my power to make sure I get that workout in.  I know I am a better mom and in a better headspace the days I can run.  Before I used to do barre class, the treadmill or a workout video but none of that gives me the same high and endorphins I get from running.  Being outside in nature helps too.  I listen to music, look at my surroundings and clear my mind.  I sometimes have my clearest thoughts while running.  It just clears my mind and helps me focus on what is important.  Plus I feel so good after I run, my mood is elevated.  Today I got to see this gorgeous sunrise a reminder that God is good is alwasy there for us.

TWO | MEDITATION

This is a hard one for me.  I have a really hard time sitting still doing nothing but my therapist has encouraged me to do this even if it is only for 5 minutes a day. I try and do this right after I run as I cool down.  I find my mind is clearer after I run.  I usually only do 5 minutes that is where I am at now, but I am hoping to add on more time eventually.  Headspace is a great app for those wanting to try and meditate.

THREE | GRATITUDE

This is so important not just for anxiety but overall happiness as well.  I think everyday you should write down 3-5 you are thankful for that happened that day.  I actually do this with the kid’s every night after we say our prayers we each say three things we are grateful for that day.  It is so sweet to hear your kid’s answers.  Frances usually says God and unicorns- haha.  Last night one of Sterling’s was the fact that when I picked him up from school I had a big smile on my face:)  Gratitude makes you see the world in a different way.  There is so much good if you focus on it.

FOUR | READING

I am so into reading any kind of self help books I can.  I think they help empower you, inspire you and train you to think more positively.   Plus reading is always good for your mind.  I read a lot before bed it helps me to quiet my mind and slow down.  I also have been really into podcasts.   I mentioned the Oprah Super Soul Conversations last week, they have some really inspiring ones.  I also love Goop, The Rise, and Joel Osteen.

These are a few self help books I have loved.

100 Days Happier | You Do You | Daring Greatly | First We Make the Beast Beautiful | You are a Badass | The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck | Unfu*k Yourself | a New Earth

FIVE | WINE + TIME WITH FRIENDS

I am kind of kidding about the wine,  I mean of course don’t self medicate with alcohol you need to know your boundaries but if a glass or two of wine helps you relax go for it.  Time with friends is crucial too.  Laughing and just getting out of the house is always good for helping me perk up.

xoxo

 

 

25 Comments

  1. Liz
    August 30, 2018 / 12:50 pm

    have you tried the app Headspace? I use it for meditation. They have a free 10-day schedule that you can do over and over again; 10 minutes at a time and the guy’s voice is very relaxing. It is so practical and doesn’t put any pressure on you to keep your brain still if you truly can’t. Love it! Cheers to you! xoxo

  2. Marisa Tompkins
    August 30, 2018 / 1:18 pm

    Great post. Thank you for sharing your journey. I was also going to suggest using a mindful/meditation app. It helps keep me on track of being still so I can get the most out of it. Love self help books. I HIGHLY recommend Girl Wash Your Face, Of Mess and Moxie, The Road Back to you, Love Warrior, Bread and Wine, Everybody Always. Not all are self help but they are filled with positive uplifting content. My favorite podcasts are: The Happy Hour, For the Love and RISE together.

  3. Denise Olsen
    August 30, 2018 / 1:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing your personal post! As I always tell my son, who suffers from mild anxiety, “You’ve got this!” and so do you:)

  4. Lori
    August 30, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    Thank you for the honest and helpful post! I, too, get anxious for all the same reasons…and it’s worse now that I have two kids (roughly the same ages as yours) that mean the world to me. I’m working on taming the beast–not just for myself–but also for my girls. Anxiety is such a burden and can rob us of joy. Thank you for the tips, Natalie! God bless you!

  5. Lindsey
    August 30, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    If you liked a New Earth, you should definitely read the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. And with meditation, you’re not trying to stop your mind/not think about anything, but rather be aware of your thoughts. You are not your thoughts.

  6. Nicole Zielinski Rogers
    August 30, 2018 / 2:22 pm

    I am so impressed Natalie on how much you work on everything for the better, always growing – I’m going to read these books I greatly appreciate it
    As I struggle with anxiety so much as I have gone through my 40s. Jogging is medicine – Your so spot on 21 days to a habit I love that- Your a blessing to ALL what a beautiful and mindful post ☀️❤️

  7. Stephanie
    August 30, 2018 / 2:52 pm

    Great post! I too struggle with anxiety. I don’t take xanax regularly, but I do have a Rx “in case of emergency”. Maybe consider having them on hand just in case.

  8. August 30, 2018 / 3:09 pm

    Your personal posts are always SO great and thank you for sharing this. Anxiety is such a struggle and these are all great tips for helping to keep it at bay!

  9. Debra
    August 30, 2018 / 3:13 pm

    Great Post! Like you, I also suffer from anxiety and it also worsened when I had my first child. It is a daily struggle and not an easy one. God’s word helps me get through when anxiety thoughts kick in. Self help books are also good. Recently read Girl, Wash your Face and For the Love. Good reads. I am going to try the head space app. What has helped me also was enrolling in art class. So relaxing. Really enjoy your blog!

  10. Jenny B
    August 30, 2018 / 4:01 pm

    Sweet comment from Sterling. It shows how much these little humans are in tune with us. He loves to see you happy!

  11. AB
    August 30, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Mental illness never has gotten the attention it needs/deserves and there is always a stigma around seeking help. I had my first panic attack at 16, and will never forget it. Mine can hit me out of nowhere, or I can feel them coming on based off my current situation. I have been on medication since I was 17, but it is still a constant struggle. I have been in therapy for years and it is a HUGE help. I am recently divorced and have a 5 year old and a 2 year old. The decision was mine, and the panic and anxiety I have been through since then, has been through the roof. I am a planner, I need to know next steps, I hate change, and this turned our whole world upside down. I now meditate every night, make sure I am more present/happy with my kids, got back into artwork which is one of my passions to turn the thoughts off, and wine is also included 🙂 Relying on my friends and having a very strong inner circle is the other way I have turned a corner. Again, thanks for sharing as this helped me greatly today.

  12. Lindsey
    August 30, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    This is so helpful!! I’m an anxiety sufferer too and it is comforting to know I am not alone!

  13. S. R.
    August 30, 2018 / 4:30 pm

    Love your blog.

  14. M
    August 30, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    I read a tip a while ago that really changed the way I experience my anxiety – they suggested looking at your anxiety as a defense mechanism, your brain’s way of ‘protecting’ you from unknowns or uncertainty in your life. Once you start feeling negative thoughts, you thank your anxious mind for only doing what it thinks is best, what it thinks will help you based on conditioning. It sounds silly in theory, but in practice, showing yourself (even your anxious mind) gratitude for just trying to protect you from the unknown, for me, diminishes its power over me. I am then able to “thank” it (without judging the feeling) and move on (I literally think to myself “thank you for trying to help/protect me, but I’ve got this!”) . Over time, this has conditioned my mind not to give power to the anxiety – I still have those thoughts, but they don’t debilitate me. Maybe this will be helpful for you, too! Best of luck,

  15. Elizabeth
    August 30, 2018 / 5:23 pm

    Spot on. Glad you shared. So many are relating! Love following you. I have a Frances too!

  16. August 30, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Thanks for being open and sharing this post! It is so encouraging to see others go through struggles and to know we (I) am not alone. I know it couldn’t have been easy to post, but honestly it is helpful to see bloggers as real people. TY.

  17. sarah
    August 30, 2018 / 7:04 pm

    Discovered your blog today through sequins and stripes. Could not have been better timing. I’ve had two panic attacks since May and have been dealing with pretty bad anxiety on a daily basis. Mine is also worse at night, once the kiddos are in bed and the house is quiet my mind races! Thank you for the post and the helpful tips 🙂

  18. Lori
    August 30, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    All of your posts are fabulous, but personal ones are my favorite. I’ve learned that when we say “me too” and are open and honest with people it opens doors to a whole new world. I recently went through a divorce after 28 years of marriage and it did a number on me as well. I’ve told me mother if God could get me thought it I would use my experience to help others and that’s what you’re doing by writing this post. Thank you again Natalie!

  19. Maggie
    August 31, 2018 / 12:44 am

    I recommend Goliath Must Fall {Winning the Battle Against your Giants} by Louie Giglio. ❤️

  20. Caroline Carmichael
    August 31, 2018 / 1:05 am

    When do you run? When your kids are in school or before they wake up? I’ve been trying to get into a routine and cant find a set time that works for me. Thank you!

  21. Jill
    August 31, 2018 / 1:13 am

    I love this post, we are all flawed in some way and I love that you can put it out there and say “this is me” and that is why everyone loves you and your blog!!!

  22. Samantha
    August 31, 2018 / 3:06 am

    Love this post, so relatable! I started using The DARE response, mixed with headspace to control my anxiety—something I never really dealt with until after I had my 3 kiddos. Thanks for this personal post, all great tips! 🙂

  23. Missy
    August 31, 2018 / 1:02 pm

    I can relate to everything you’ve shared here, so thank you! I have struggles with anxiety my whole life, but have only recently had the worlds to express it. Your post makes me think I should try running again. I have it up after my 3rd pregnancy, but I remember felling like it was such a stress reducer.

  24. SCB
    September 2, 2018 / 11:58 am

    This is so my struggle right now as well and it has been life changing to understand how anxiety can negatively shape so much of my day. I had an injury that kept me from exercise and I could not believe how quickly the anxiety came back full force after a couple months of sitting on my butt. Have you ever taken the enneagram to figure out your personality type? That is another thing that REALLY helped me breakthrough in self-awareness and understanding how other people in my life are wired differently. This is my favorite one and only takes like 10 minutes. http://exploreyourtype.com

  25. Ashley
    September 17, 2018 / 9:15 pm

    Check out the app Calm- it’s been a game changer for me with a similar situation. It’s not cheap but educators get a FREE lifetime subscription (simply put in your name and the name of your child’s school, as I did, and you *should* be granted access– really! I look forward to the 10 minutes of meditation every night before bed or in a hot bath. Can’t recommend it enough. And you got this, mama!

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