Nine Tips + Tricks for Anxiety While Fighting Lyme Disease
Take Your Mornings Slow
Having just woken up, I find myself on the couch, with my cup of coffee, and bowl of cereal with fresh fruit, happily reading @hereisgina's article in the most recent WHMagazine. This might sound completely nonchalant, but as someone who often (ok, all the time) feels the need to "get productive" right away, this is quite a novel, and not so easy to do, moment.
Try looking at down time as being productive. Do whatever you need to do to get those positive thoughts rolling through, as early as you can, and for as long as you can. Chances are they will make their way into other moments of your day.
Remove Yourself from your surroundings, even if just for a moment; whether it be a small task, or bigger project, simply set it aside and put your attention towards something else.
For me, it has always been the simple act of getting outside - rain or shine! But for you, it may be entirely different. It may be the pages of a new book, a drink from your favorite cafe, phone call with a good friend, a home cooked meal, or something more meditative such as drawing or journaling.
The best part is, once you get in the habit of doing this, you'll begin to notice the "tipping point" signs. The things that you begin to think or do before you start to panic. Before the anxiety builds in your chest, thereby avoiding the debilitating situation altogether. Not always, but enough for you to feel it making a difference.
Remember, you have more control over this than you may think.
Move. Just a Little
As I tend to have a hard time forming a routine, this often means stretching my legs up while stuck in bed, reaching my arms over my head while I wait for my smoothie to finish blending, or one that I find the most beneficial: rolling out my yoga mat before bed, so when I wake up, all I have to do is plop myself on the ground, and slowly, limb by limb, start moving my always stiff and always aching muscles. You know, even just 15 minutes will do the trick.
But remember, if you simply cannot find a way to move, do not beat yourself up. Instead, allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel, and then try again tomorrow.
Challenge Your Thoughts
More specifically, challenge your negative thoughts. The ones that beat you down, chipping away at your confidence, motivation, and self-worth. Step back and think on it a little, then step forward and face this fear head on.
Just as it has challenged your worth, you go ahead and challenge it's worth. Maybe say something along the lines of... "even if you are the worst possible outcome, I am strong enough to take it. Or, "You have no power over me, my thoughts, the words I speak, and what I choose to do." Even if you don't entirely believe your rebuttal, which is quite true in many cases (mine included), keep saying it.
Keep saying it because one day, chances are, you will.
Talk It Through
Is one of the best tools I know when it comes to preventing a shut down. Which in many cases, can lead to a full blown panic attack. Especially since one of the first things I want to do when I start to feel anxious, doubtful, or entirely uneasy for no real at all (totally normal by the way, you should never feel the need to justify these very real feelings), is to retreat further into myself. Sometimes for hours, days, or even weeks.
First off, see if you can't recognize the signs. What is the first thing you feel before you start feeling anxious? Once you've done this, see if a good friend or family member is able to talk. And remember, this conversation can be about anything, anything at all.
If there is no one around or available to talk things through, try writing your thoughts down. Anything and everything that comes to mind. You may find that that put in your stomach begins to ease up, and that the situation at hand isn't really all that bad.
You can do this.
Is an absolute game changer. A game changer, yet also something that by no means comes easy. Anxiety is a symptom of Lyme, but it can also stand alone. It can also wreak havoc in the mind and body of those who don't have Lyme. In itself, it is completely debilitating, and something that should never be overlooked or thought of as a being a weakness or problem.
You are not your Anxiety, you are not weak, and you are not any less of a human for feeling these things. So, seemingly "simple remedies" such as positive affirmation may feel like a waste of time, but having worked through my own stubbornness, and eventually giving it a go, I have to say that there are few things more powerful than hearing your own voice telling you that you are beautiful, worthy, strong, resilient, truthful, courageous, authentic, creative, and loving.
There are few things more powerful than listening, soaking in, and believing those words. In believing in yourself.
Yes, this requires a lot of patience, and there will be times when giving into those negative thoughts is far more appealing than pushing through with the positive ones. But the thing is, it does eventually sink in, and there may even come a point where you find yourself avoiding anxiety attacks altogether, not always, but certainly enough for it to make a real difference. For it to help show you just how amazing you already are, anxiety and all.
Music, Snacks and a Movie. Or something like that.
One minute you find yourself conquering your to do list, and the next you're curled up, rocking your head in your hands, convinced that you can't handle it. Convinced that all of this is too much.
First off, I promise you it's not. I promise you are strong enough to get through this. So, what I want you to do, is to completely remove yourself from that place, whether it be physically or virtually, get yourself as far away from it as you can. Now, while you prepare (or have someone prepare for you), a snack of choice, start playing your favorite song, or entire album if you have the time; close your eyes and dive into that very moment, reminding yourself why you fell in love with this specific artist in the first place. Or if you'd rather, replace music with a book on tape or podcast, just as long as it's one that already know you love. One that you know will put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.
Now that you've set the mood, settle into the coziest spot you can find, and pick a movie or show, one that you can get completely lost in. Though this may not always be an option for you, as anxiety can often hit at the worst of times (though there never really is a "good" time), you can always pull aspects from this and incorporate them into the moment you're in. For instance, if you have your phone, stop what you're doing and start playing your favorite song, and if you're on your computer, close out all tabs and head to Netflix.
The most important thing to remember when faced with anxiety? You are in control. Yes, these things your feeling, they're real and quite awful, but they are not you, and they do not get to define who you are. You do. You get to decide what you'll lead with, and how you'll deal with the barriers you face.
Thank You, but I've Got This
Hear your fear, doubts, pain, and uncertainty, but do not believe a word of it. Recognize the control that it can have over you, but do not give in. Feel anxiety's determination to take the wheel, but not let it out of the back seat.
And if your anxiety, like mine, is persistent in its existence, invite it to stay. I sound crazy, I know, but just hear me out. For a long time, I thought of it as a flaw in my personality, inconvenience to those around me, and a broken part of my being. I was convinced that until I was rid of it, my life would remain completely imbalanced.
But hey, maybe there's something to a life less balanced. Maybe it's not about getting rid of anxiety's presence altogether, but rather the way in which we approach and deal with its persistence. Saying, "hey, I see you, I feel you, and I can tell that you want to fill my head with negative thoughts, and body with angst, but I'm actually quite fine. I've got this, so go ahead and have a seat over there..." Or something like that.
It's quite possible that people may look at you funny for talking to your anxiety like you would an unwanted, intrusive, and manipulative guest (that almost sounds too kind), but isn't that exactly what it is? You are so much more than that voice questioning your self worth, so yeah, go ahead and show it what's up.
To Feel It All.
As I type this, I find myself just emerging from what I think of as a full body anxiety take over. You know, when you try to think of what went wrong, what could have possibly been so awful to have brought you to this point, but try as you might, there is no logical explanation? One minute you're fine, and the next you're being consumed by fear, doubt, and loss. Your mind either goes blank or runs around like a mad person. You either want to scream or curl up on the floor in a puddle of tears. Whatever it is, it's exhausting.
Earlier, while this was all happening, I tried to fight it. Not in a way that would be helpful, but rather fight it with frustration, angst, and stubbornness. Now, as I'm sure could have guessed, this did not turn out well. In fact, it almost immediately backfired, leaving me with nothing but a racing heart, shaking hands, and a kind of impatience with my just being there. Ugh. This whole taking my own advice thing is proving to be harder than I originally thought.
So what did I do? I set everything aside and closed my eyes, immediately feeling the weight of it all on my chest. But the thing is, the more I looked at it, the less if feared it, reminding myself that these feelings, they are not me. So, I took hold of my thoughts and brought myself to a place of pure bliss. A place from my childhood, where I did nothing but make fairy potions, swing on the tire wing, and roll around in the dirt.
Soon enough, my heart stopped racing, my mind calmed, and hands stopped shaking. Who knew that something so simple like a memory could bring be back to my ten year old self? Close your eyes, Feel it all, then let it go.
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