The definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Well that certainly resonates with us, doesn't it?
Whether it's cancer, it's divorce, it's a miscarriage, it's a new job, a move, or any unanticipated change, each and every one of us has our own struggles. WE all are Fighting Pretty through anxiety in some capacity. As women who have been faced with cancer, we all know that even if you don’t “look sick” you can feel it. Even on the days that you do feel like a bad-ass, there is a new challenge right around the corner that knocks you off your feet.
And as the caretakers of the family, the strong, amazing and "can do it all" women that we are, we are tired, we are anxious, and we are fucking exhausted! Everyone manages their anxiety differently, and it's important to note this post is not based on medical advice, but it is based on experience. Going through cancer taught me to take a minute and reflect. Sometimes I do it to a fault. I overthink and reassess. I then try to work on my anxiety and then feel guilty that I even have anxiety because I'm so thankful for being healthy. Gosh darnit, it then causes even more anxiety!
So there are some tips for you. Please take them, or leave them. But know these tips have worked for me through so much of the challenges that have come to me through my life.
#1: Get your shit out.
Anxiety can vary on levels of extremety. For some, anxiety causes sweating, sickness and rolling-on-the-ground reactions. For others, it comes and goes. It can be a simple tightness of the chest and an inability to take a deep breath.
Back in 2013, I was living in New York City, about to move across the country and nervous and excited about life. I was scared of moving, I was scared the cancer wouldcome back, but I was also look forward to a new journey. Every time I got in theshower, I couldn’t catch my breath. Not a hyperventilating breathing issue, buta weird time when I felt like I couldn’t inhale and relax. These moments of anxiety snuck up on me at random times. I called my sister and my mom, and at times both ofthem said the same thing. These were panic attacks. Not full blown, seizurepanic attacks, but my body was telling me I was anxious, and I needed a remedy.
I shared my worries, my fears, my thoughts, my excitement and things that overwhelmed me. I confided in my mom and sister and spilled my heart out. I cried, I laughed, I vented. They listened and guided. They advised me to write out my fears, starta blog, and share my worries so I got it all off my chest. "GET IT OUT!" they reminded me.
I quickly learned when you hold in your feelings, you are creating a huge mass of emotions that need to be released.
If I talked with my family, and that wasn’t enough, I chatted with friends. And finally when my chest full of emotions still wasn't going down, I met with a therapist. I released my fears and all my feelings over and over again until I felt like I could breathe.
At Fighting Pretty, we are building a community to make honest, reliable and relatable connections. Join our Fighting Pretty through Cancer Facebook group and lean on us, bring your worries to us and we will listen. So the first lesson on Fighting Pretty through Anxiety is GET THAT SHIT OUT.
#2. Move your body.
Ok, it may sound cliché (and maybe even annoying) and I know most of you don’t want to hear this, because who has time to go to the gym and workout when you’re exhausted and have so much shit to do!? What if you are in treatment and are actually not able to go for a walk? This can be triggering!
That’s not what I’m talking about. Just move your body:
- Put on a song and dance in your bedroom. Just wiggle your butt!
- Take a walk - if you can
- Go in your backyard and pick some semblence of a pretty flower and put it in a vase
- Step outside on your porch and get some fresh air
Just do something to keep your body moving, so you push out some of the anxiety-ridden things in your brain and get a fresh perspective. Look outside and appreciate the beauty of the world and how we all have a place in it.
Now if you are interested in joining workout classes, I highly recommend low-impact workouts like barre, pilates, yoga and spin. These are typically centered around pushing you to do you. These are workouts that keep your body moving at your own pace, without a competitive scoreboard and a focus on your body and your mind. Have a Peleton? Turn on the music and just pedal lightly. Want to take a Barre3 class? Take it slow and breathe deeply. Just the fact that you showed up is a huge accomplishment, and the first step at Fighting Pretty through anxiety.
And you have to admit, that leaving a workout class or coming home from a walk around your neighborhood leaves you refreshed – somehow. So just do it. Put on your playlist and move your body.
#3. Find your happiness.
This segways beautifully into finding and choosing your happiness. Take a minute and think about what makes you happy. When you are facing anxiety, the hard part is, nothing makes you happy. You are overwhelmed. You are faced with too much to handle.
This book is literally at my bedside every night and if I’m feeling overwhelmed, sad, having a “why me?” night, or feeling guilty because I am putting too much pressure on myself, I turn here and remind myself of some important key takeaways:
- We get good vibes by giving them.
- How we choose to travel our path is up to us. Wemight as well feel the best we can and live with quality in times of adversity.
- We can’t always be happy about what happens, butwe can be pleased with the way we handle ourselves and cope.
- Accept the truth. When we bravely accept truth,we use our energies to do whatever good we can.
- We all have our struggles, and none of us are spared. Pain is inevitable. We must remain focused on our goals so that our light shines as brightly as possible in situations that require our inner strength.
All of us know what we need to do to pick ourselves up, and take a minute to get back on track. Talk about it, work on it, and find it in you to turn yourself around. You got this! So choose happiness and go get it!
Book is Choosing Happiness: Keys to a Joyful Life by Alexandra Stoddard.
4. Take a chill pill.
Have you spoken with your confidants? Have you written down your thoughts and fears? Have you challenged yourself to move and look at things in a new light, and set boundaries? Are you working to create happiness in your nook?
Still not feeling cured?
Well, have you ever considered anti-anxiety medication? I like to call Lexapro my "chill pill."
After spurts of anxiety back in 2013, I did ALL. THE. THINGS. I spoke with my oncologist about anxiety and was prescribed a low level anti-anxiety pill that helped to ease the feelings that made my chest heavy with doubt and overwhelming emotion. I hated the idea I needed medication to calm my nerves or ease my pain. After speaking with my doctor we discussed a medication that felt safe. Being on the"chill pill," I never felt groggy or drugged. I just felt even and able to see things more clearly.
Talk with your doctor and see if a chill pill is right for you.
#5. Own it.
Last but not least, I want to tell you it’s ok. Own your anxiety. Own your feelings and continue working on it. Take these tips and know you have a team of people behind you cheering you on. These 5 tips are not going to cure anxiety. But they will help.
Every single person has their own experiences. Some are much more intense than others, but every experience is all relative and all real.
Own your anxiety.
Take charge and make yourself proud.
You got this. You can do this.
Say it out loud: Today, I will.