I struggled with anxiety for years, considering myself a victim of a physiological disorder of unknown origin. I had my first anxiety attack when I was 25. Almost drove off the road in a panic once when I was going through my divorce.
I have felt betrayed by my body more times than I can even count. At one point I was attending yoga practices with it and I could plow through a 90-minute power vinyasa yoga class and STILL be in a panic at savasana.
What is anxiety?
It happens when you are living out of alignment with your purpose or gifts. It is the experience of being flooded. Thoughts about the past or worries about the future pull you out of being in the ‘now'. There’s a full set of physiological symptoms, yes. But your mind governs your body…it is your mind and what you are doing with it that is giving you that anxiety. Well, it’s not just how you handle your head…it’s what you do about the physiological symptoms too. Medication left me feeling flat and a little stupid. Alcohol was a common go to, but the devil in that ‘prescription’ is that it soothes up front, but creates even more anxiety after the fact! Complaining discharges energy but is not a solution; it's just spreading negative energy around. Yoga always helped, as did being in nature, and laughing.
Whether I like it or not, my body is teaching me lessons the very hard way so that I can share them more widely. This means I took one for the team with all my anxiety. You’re welcome.
What works? A combination of practice and magic.
I’ve been studying the work of leading edge doctors like Kelly Brogan and am all about the path of eliminating toxins, food as medicine, and body wisdom as first line treatments.
If it’s an actual panic attack, acupuncture. Acupuncture is my go-to for calming the nervous system down in a crisis. Sometimes I get anxiety reactions after I have eaten trigger foods. Days 2 and 3 of recovery from a trigger attack can be anxious, and here acupuncture really helps.
Daily practices are the place where I’ve really gained ground in taming this tiger. First and foremost, I meditate every day. If you are bothered by a monkey mind, establish a dedicated meditation practice. Mental floss. You’re constantly caught up in your busy head and you think it’s got the solution to your problems. Newsflash—it doesn’t. Your intuition will only whisper to you if you are really quiet. It is like a shy child that will never raise her hand, she simply waits in the back to be called on, hoping you decide she has something to say.
A clean diet and a plan for getting back to clean when I fall off are also essential, as is a curated supplement regimen. Stress and autoimmune issues have left me with a fragile gut and I feed it exactly what it needs every day. Basically I turned my thinking about my body inside out; I now see that my body is in service to ME and I have to take care of it so it can do the work I need it to do.
Finding and healing trauma in the body is another piece of my healing protocol. And creating and experiencing joy. My sister and I were talking recently and observed that our parents didn’t teach us to pursue ‘joy’. Seems odd that you’d have to be taught that? But it's a wonderful lesson to study!
All this work has yielded a body and mind that are supple, resilient and happy. Anxiety cannot hurt me, it is but a tiny mosquito now.