I bet that you've dealt with anxiety before or you know someone who has. It's something we don't talk about a lot, and that's why I wanted to write this three-part series. (I wrote about my experience with anxiety here.) Even though it can happen to any of us, there are ways to manage anxiety. It's not about it being quick or easy—it's about finding the right method for you. So I've collaborated with my mom, Heidi, a certified social worker and the director of social work at a senior home in New York, to put together three different ways of dealing with anxiety. Here's the second one (you can read the first one here).
Take time to be in the moment and do "nothing"—there is such power in doing that.
"We’re not allowed to be in our own little world anymore. It's almost as if there is no room for daydreaming or letting your mind wander. We’re victims of stimulation; there’s hardly any quiet around us. The body needs to relax and rest. A lot of the time we stay busy so we don't have to stop and really think about our lives. Just sitting around doing nothing is kind of a good thing." —Heidi
Since fainting, I've been trying to meditate more: You know it's meant to be good for you, just like eating well and exercising, but that doesn't mean it's easy to make the time for sitting quietly and listening to your own thoughts—or rather, trying to sit with them and not get too affected by them. I can't say every time I meditate I feel like a sparkly new person or that I do it every day, but one time a few weeks ago, during a guided meditation on the Calm app, I suddenly burst into tears. I don't know where it came from, but it was like a release and if I hadn't made the time for those moments of quiet reflection, I wouldn't have had that little healing moment that I really needed.
So try meditating or simply sitting in a chair outside on a sunny day and really being in that moment, gently pushing away any thoughts of worry or self-consciousness. Feel the sun on your face, listen to the sounds of birds chirping or cars passing. What can you hear and smell that you haven't noticed before?
Meditation for me, in the best circumstances, is similar to that feeling when you're outside on a very hot day and you realize how thirsty you are. You can't wait to drink a glass of cold water. That amazing, refreshing feeling when you start to drink the water—that's how meditation feels for my brain. Like a glass of ice water, cooling it off, slowing everything down for that moment in time.
Making meditation a habit is like building a muscle. 💪🏼 Grounding yourself in times when you're not feeling anxious helps you to stay calmer the next time anxiety closes in.
Here's to practicing and bringing more calm into all of our lives 🙏🏼 I'd love to hear about your experiences with anxiety. What are ways that you've found help you cope?
Sending you love (and lots of calm energy), Heather and Heidi xoxo
P.S. "If anxiety begins to affect everything you do, then go and see a counselor," Heidi says. "If you can’t get away from it, then you may need professional help. It’s not the same as talking to your friend; it’s going to someone that’s objective. They can help you develop tools for dealing with anxiety. Sometimes you need a little bit of help in life. It happens to all of us."
Photograph by Tom Schelling