Many of you know that I struggle with anxiety (among other things) and panic attacks. This is one of the greatest obstacles in my life, one I’m determined to overcome. I made a promise to myself this year that I would stop allowing fear to determine my course.
This means I’ve been digging out every tool in my emotional well-being toolkit, and searching out new ones to add to it. I have created lists on the ever-helpful app Wunderlist called Activities to Alleviate ___ [Depression, Anger, Panic Attacks, etc] that I call my “Double A’s,” which I can turn to in a pinch for ideas when I’m stretched too thin or too far gone in my suffering to remember all the things I can do to help myself. (My excellent, supportive husband also has access to these lists, thanks to Wunderlist’s sharing feature, and that helps him to help me.)
Some of the things I’ve learned are true allies in the battle against anxiety are nutrition, exercise, fresh air, exposure to nature and wildlife, listening to music, playing piano and singing, making art or coloring, ASMR videos (here’s one of my favorites from my favorite creator of these type of videos!), and guided meditation such as yoga nidra (this is a really lovely one, and so is this one).
There are so many techniques at my disposal (and everyone’s). This is ideal and also crucial, because it’s so important to me not to rely on pharmaceutical intervention for my struggles, despite some heavy opposition about that from quite a few people (except for my excellent, supportive husband).
It’s becoming more clear to me as well how important breath is in dealing with anxiety. From what I have read, disordered breathing is not simply a result of anxiety, but possibly a major cause of it. I find that I’m usually a shallow breather, and I yawn frequently. I am now trying to correct this, to remind myself to breath deeply and more diaphragmatically throughout the day.
This past weekend, my husband and I took a trip to visit family. We live a couple of states away, and it takes about 6 or 7 hours in the car to get there, and I am not a comfortable, happy traveler like my dearly departed cat Brownie was. My anxiety spikes to remarkable heights when I travel.
This time, I did something that I haven’t done much at all since high school: I wrote in pen on my hand so that I would have a continual reminder of something – a homework assignment, in a way.
I had to rewrite it a few times as it washed or rubbed off, but I figured the absorption of ink through my skin was worth the benefit of seeing it there so many times during the day. I will have to come up with a better method, but this was helpful.
One result of this reminder (as well as some of my other tools and techniques) was that I did not throw up once during the weekend. Trust me, that’s an accomplishment. That alone is enough to call the trip a success. I also slept several hours each night, which again, is a feat when I’m out of my element.
Still, for all my progress, one thing keeps coming up in all my searches for helping and preventing anxiety, and that one thing is something I have resisted for years. I don’t know why, but I have refused to practice yoga no matter how many people (including my stellar Buddhist-leaning therapist) have recommended it specifically for the issues I have.
My husband is a total yoga convert, and I enjoy seeing his practice on the weekends, but all his encouragement and prodding could not convince me to join him. (He finds it helps him immensely in his job installing solar panels. His coworkers openly admire his flexibility and balance up on the rooftops, and he credits yoga. Have I mentioned how excellent my husband is?)
I have tried it halfheartedly a few times, and each time stubbornly would not attempt it again for long periods of time. Always, I had excuses and reasons why it wasn’t for me.
Now that I have truly comprehended the importance of breath in anxiety prevention, I have come around to the fact that yoga is possibly the best thing I could do for myself to make better breathing a regular habit.
And so, I took the plunge and bought myself a yoga mat.
It arrived shortly before our trip, so I have not yet used it! I’m looking forward to it, especially because it’s so pretty, and made of nontoxic materials. I got it from a company called YogaRat. (My husband’s mat is from Gaiam. Even though I do like Gaiam, and we have several of their products, this mat appealed to me the most of all the options I found online.)
Luckily for me, we already have a nice selection of yoga videos on dvd. I recently acquired two from a local thrift store that I’m eager to try. (Those are the orange ones on the left.)
My husband plays them on his laptop since there’s not enough room to practice in front of our television, so that’s my plan, as well.
What I aim to do is roll out my mat and do at least one pose every day, even if I don’t do an entire video or even play one at all, for thirty days. I’ve been seeing a lot of instagram posts about doing rituals, and they have inspired me. Many of them are for 100 days, but I’m not so sure that’s realistic for me. 30 seems like a lot to start with, but I really want to make it a habit, and I’ve heard rumors that it takes about that long to form a habit.
Today, I plan on starting with this dvd:
The idea of “yoga from the heart” appeals to me, as does the instructor herself, Seane Corn. What she’s all about seems to align with what I want out of my yoga practice (and life), and she simply feels more accessible to me than the amazing but slightly intimidating Rodney Yee, who my husband favors. (I don’t want to think it’s a gender thing, but I suppose it could be, and that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world or make me a terrible person!)
This has been a long post! Thanks for sticking with me this far. I plan on updating at some point with how this 30 days of yoga thing is going. I’ll even admit it if I give up.
Hopefully, blogging about it will give me a sense of accountability, and that could be the last push I need to keep up with it.
Send me your good yoga vibes if you’ve got ’em, and be well!
2016 has been a wild year for me so far. I’m going through quite a few changes in my life at this time, and it hasn’t felt right to blog about really any of it. I wanted to share something, though, since it’s been about 4 months since my last post.
I’m finally working on my book again, the one I wrote for November 2012’s NaNoWriMo. I began revising it quite some time ago, and made it to almost the 20k words mark before I realized I wanted to make a huge change. I struggled with it for a while, not sure whether it was the right change to make, afraid of how people might react. I procrastinated for a long time before deciding to simply go for it.
I have altered the main character quite a bit, and thus had to go back and make those changes in what existed of my second draft so far. I just now (a few minutes ago) finally caught up to myself in my second draft, making my character changes and editing a few other things along the way, so that where I left off editing the first time is now exactly where I am with my new changes, too.
That means I can go back to my three-ring binder of my original manuscript and go at it with a red pen again, which was my first step earlier. After I finish a section, I type it up onto the computer, so all the transformation I’ve been doing of my abbreviated second draft has been on the computer. I’m looking forward to curling up with the paper copy again.
My writing group is still going strong, with a few drop-outs and some new additions, and I like the people we have right now. I like our dynamic, I like our routine. I value the opinion of everyone there, and feel comfortable giving honest feedback.
It’s been really good for me to do this (almost) every week. Their feedback and encouragement has inspired me to get back in the saddle and make this second draft happen. I want to have it finished by the end of 2016, so I can send it out to an agent.
That seems like a fantasy sometimes, but I believe it will happen, and I believe that eventually someone will want to take my book on as their project, too, and help me release it into the world. It’s scary and exciting.
That’s where I’m at right now with my writing. It’s been a little difficult to focus on it, because of all the other things going on, but I’m going to make it a priority now. The universe has been giving me little nudges that this is what I need to be working on, and I agree with the universe (on this as well as most other things).
I’ve been enjoying doing some gardening in our tiny yard and our raised bed that a neighbor has graciously allowed us to place in his yard, and of course I’m always on the lookout for wildlife photo ops, so here’s a little taste of that:
As far as social media goes, I shut down my Facebook page, and I don’t tweet much, but I’m active on Instagram for the time being, and I also have gotten into Pinterest, so if you’re interested in what I’m up to, check out the links on the side of this page to see my profiles (assuming I put them up there correctly).
That’s all for now. Now I need to get out of my stifling office and go sit by the fan downstairs.
I hope everyone who is reading this is having a happy, fun, and safe summer!