You know that feeling of being stuck? When your feet are rooted so deeply in the mud and as hard as you try to move… you can’t. That’s how I felt for most of the summer. We were given some unsettling news early on in our pregnancy and it took me a LONG time to get unstuck. At our first trimester screening I was told that our little babe had likely developed a genetic disorder. We went through weeks of testing with no answers, and as you can imagine, I was a wreck. Even though there was a chance that the results would come back completely normal, there was also a chance our entire lives were about to be flipped upside down. I won’t get into the details, but as someone who struggles with anxiety on a regular basis, I became more stuck as each day went on without receiving clarity.
After almost two months of living in limbo and assuming the worst, we finally received the news that I had expected the least- our baby was healthy. The gratitude we felt during that phone call, and each time I look at my growing belly, is something that I will never forget.
Usually I’m able to dip into the handy toolkit I’ve built over the years that has helped me overcome my anxiety, but I really struggled to step outside of my current situation to even remember I had the toolkit. In case anyone is feeling stuck right now, (heck- the whole world likely feels it this year!) I’ve decided to share some of the steps I use to help shift my perspective when anxiety creeps in and life gets hard.
If your anxiety is anything like mine, you feel it immediately in your body. The most powerful thing I can do to take control of my thoughts is to intentionally breathe (i.e. do breath-work) and focus on slowing down my physiological response before a panic attack strikes. A specific breath exercise that always helps me feel calm is alternate nostril breathing. Google this method if its new to you!
Another strategy to try is listening to a guided meditation. I personally use an app called Meditation Studio by Muse because it has a great selection of meditations on a variety of topics.
I once read that it is impossible to feel stress when you express gratitude. With this claim in mind, I decided to start a gratitude practice roughly two years ago and it has changed my life. Carve out 5-10 minutes each morning and evening to record at least 3 things that you’re grateful for. Try to be specific and relevant to each day.
Do you have a morning routine? Here are a few things I like to do to start each day off on the right foot.
Wake up early | meditate | exercise | journal
Move your body
This one’s a no-brainer. If you want to change your thoughts, move your body. Plain and simple.
If you’re new to exercise, start off slow and set goals. You will literally add years to your life and those post-workout endorphins are hard to beat.
If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy exercise routine, seek out community and hold yourself accountable.
Reflect on your ‘why’
Sometimes life throws the fastest curve ball at you - hello 2020- causing you to lose sight of your purpose. As soon as you’re faced with a hardship and you’ve found a quiet moment, try to reflect on your ‘why’. Think about your purpose in life and how this particular challenge will propel you closer to becoming the person you strive to be. Easier said than done, I know.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed its so incredibly hard to pull yourself out of anxious thoughts, but the more often you use these steps, the easier it will be to shift your perspective and live your life to the fullest.