Combatting My Anxiety and Finding Peace in the Present {Beyond Food Fridays}

Beyond Food Fridays
Welcome to Beyond Food Fridays where I share my thoughts on non-food topics such as skin & hair care, body image, and other fun tips and tricks for how to be healthy and vibrant inside and out!

Combatting My Anxiety and Finding Peace in the Present | Vibrant Life Army Wife

First of all, happy Fourth of July! Hope everyone has a fun and relaxing day off full of family, friends and good food!

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband comes home in about a week. Obviously, I’m extremely excited about this. I’ve missed him a ton and I can’t wait for him to be home again. However, this excitement is also paired with some anxiety; more anxiety than I expected. I don’t know exactly what I’m anxious about. I have gotten into a really good routine while he has been gone- walking the dogs every day, cooking my healthy meals on the weekend so I have good food to eat all week, spending time with my friends, etc- and I think I’m a little afraid of what will happen to my routine when he gets home. I suppose that even though it’s a good change, it’s still a change and change inevitably breeds anxiety (for me anyway).

And as a good friend of mine just pointed out to me, that’s not the only thing that is changing in my life right now either. We planned a cruise for when he gets back to serve as the honeymoon we never had. And as fun as I’m sure it will be, vacation always makes me anxious. Because of my different issues I have to be super careful about what I eat and that’s much easier to do when I’m in my own kitchen cooking my own food. Also, having never been on a cruise, I’m just not sure what to expect. I’m also currently working on all the financial aid paperwork so I can go back to school in the fall. I am so ready to start learning all sorts of new things again, but the process of getting enrolled is stressing me out. I am a little worried as well about adding school work on top of my full time job and all the other things I do. On top of all that I started this blog (obviously). This was about a thousand gigantic steps outside of my comfort zone and I am loving every minute of it but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t freak me out sometimes. I have all these ideas running through my head at all times and I want to do everything all at once, which obviously I can’t, but that’s just how I work. And I worry about producing quality content that is enjoyable and helpful and doing so on a regular basis.

So there’s a (not so) little glimpse into my somewhat very neurotic brain. So why am I telling you this, you ask? Well for starters, it’s kind of therapeutic for me to get all my crazy thoughts out of my head. But mostly it’s because I want to talk about how I deal with my anxiety when it inevitably hits. I think we all know that stress is not healthy. Our bodies just weren’t meant to handle the chronic stress that most of us deal with on a regular basis and it can really wreck our ability to be our happiest healthiest selves. I don’t know about you, but I want to live each day feeling healthy and vibrant, not anxious and stressed.

One of my favorite things to do that always helps me to de-stress in the evenings is taking my dogs for a walk. Not only does this help me to get a little exercise in for both myself and the dogs (gotta get those 10,000 steps on my Fit Bit!) but it also helps me to clear my head. I do some of my best thinking when I go for my walks, and being out in nature with the fresh air (even when it’s a million and one degrees outside) always makes me feel better. Lately I’ve been going on walks with a friend and her dogs and this is also very helpful. Instead of being alone with my thoughts, I have a friend to bounce my thoughts off of. And this friend in particular is VERY good at putting things into perspective for me and just generally helping me to chill out. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t have time or I am too lazy to go for a walk but because I know how beneficial it is for me (and the dogs of course) so I make it a priority.

Since my husband deployed I have been going to yoga one or two times a week at a local yoga studio. I am totally LOVING this! I have done yoga on and off for a few years now, sometimes in a classroom environment and sometimes in my own home, but having a regular class to go to has been awesome. I always leave class feeling sweaty and tired, but also invigorated and completely relaxed. For me yoga has acted as a moving meditation of sorts in which I am able to clear my head of all the crap that’s going on in my life and just focus on my body and my breath.

I’m not so great at sitting still and my brain is in a constant state of hyperdrive. For this reason, meditation in the traditional sense doesn’t really work for me. A friend of mine (the same one that I walk my dogs with) suggested I try the Calm app and I have found this to be extremely helpful. Although you’re still encouraged to sit still, you are guided through the meditation which is helpful for me to bring myself back to the present when my mind starts to wander. I’ve learned that meditation is not about clearing your mind of all thought (is that even possible?) but it’s about viewing your thoughts as if from the outside in a completely nonjudgmental way and then letting them pass as a cloud passes through the sky. I am still struggling with this as I have a bad habit of following a particular thought down the proverbial rabbit hole, but as with anything else it takes practice. Using this app before I go to bed or during the day when I’m feeling anxious has really helped me to remain present and maintain perspective. Side note: meditation can take many forms. It can mean sitting and chanting “om” Buddha style, or praying, or dancing around the room to your favorite song, or whatever else floats your boat. Just do what works for you!

As in every situation in my life, I prioritize good food. For some it may seem like worrying about preparing healthy meals from scratch would cause anxiety, but for me it’s quite the opposite (in most cases). I love to cook and chopping veggies is my version of therapy (as weird as that sounds). More importantly, eating good food makes me feel good. When my IBS symptoms flare up, so does my anxiety, so by eating good food that nourishes my body I am avoiding one more unnecessary stressor.

Lastly, I find it incredibly helpful to either talk or write it out. When I’m feeling anxious about something, I turn to a friend or family member for help. Sometimes just the act of articulating my thoughts is enough to help me regain perspective and resolve the anxiety. Other times it’s the advice I receive from my awesome friends and family that helps me chill out. Writing has also been very beneficial. As I write this post I feel some of my stress being lifted off my shoulders.

As human beings we are always going to have stress in our lives. Sure we can rid ourselves of some stress by prioritizing the important things and doing away with the unnecessary ones. But some stress is inevitable so it is how we deal with that stress that is important. For me this means focusing on being present. I have heard it said that if you are anxious you are living in the future and I know I am guilty of this. So instead of worrying about the future, I am going to remain focused on the present by continuing to practice meditation and yoga, prioritizing walking the dogs and nourishing my body, and not being afraid to seek help when it’s needed.

If you have any thoughts or advice on how you stay present and avoid anxiety, please share in the comments! I love to hear your ideas!

In vibrant health,