One of my ongoing goals is to deal with my storm of anxiety. When people discuss a tornado or a hurricane, it is usually discussed in terms of its size, its speed, its strength. That’s what I liken my stress and anxiety to. How strong is it today? A 4? What is its force? Gale force 6? Will the combination of wind intensity and expected landfall create the perfect storm?
Since I’ve moved to California and have had to essentially start over in terms of building a business, making friends, and getting used to not having family around, I find that my storm of anxiety and stress is greater than ever before. I wake up in the morning with my mind racing with all the things I need to do. I rush through breakfast so I can rush to make lunch, rush to drop my daughter at school to rush to the store, to rush home to make the beds, do the dishes, get the laundry in, to rush to walk the dogs, to rush to grab lunch, to rush to put the baby down. Then in the 90 minutes I have while he sleeps, I am checking email, making appointments and planning, planning, planning for the next event.
No where in there am I breathing. No where in there am I exercising. No where in there am I resting. Where I want to be is in the eye of the storm. The chaos of the storm is still all around you but in the eye it is calm, it is quiet, it is peaceful. I realize that in order to do this, I need to embrace the chaos. To find the calm within the crazy.
This is not easy for me to do. As I have often said, I vibrate at a very high frequency. I like my home and life to be in order. But I realized that while everything looked nice and neat around me, it wasn’t. My body has started to rebel. I have a rash all over my stomach and back. I snap at my children and at my husband. I’ve been crying. A lot. And I’ve noticed that my stress and worry have started to take a toll on my daughter. Her eyes twitch when she is yelled at. She seeks approval to make sure what she is doing is right. And all I can think is that I caused this to happen. This is my fault. And my anxiety, stress and sadness grow more. Now the storm is bigger. And I still can’t get into the eye.
So this past January 1st I made a resolution. To embrace the chaos and find the calmness within it. Who really cares if the dishes are done or the beds are made? Nobody in my house. So they sit in the sink until nighttime and then my husband or I wash them. Am I so important that every email needs to be returned immediately? No, I’m not. So I turned push notifications off on my phone and I try to just check a few times a day and respond at night. Do the toys have to be picked up the moment the game is over? They don’t. Some nights when my husband gets home, he laughs as he has to clear a path from the back door to the kitchen for scattered around are cans of Play Doh, crayons, stuffed animals, books and clothing.
Has my anxiety reduced as a result? A little. Some days are harder than others. I admit, it is an effort to just ignore what I think needs to be done. To just ignore the mess. But I am noticing other things. My daughter’s joy when I actually sit and watch a cartoon with her, rather than sitting working on my computer in the same room as she mindlessly watches. Both my kids excitement when I suggest coloring or doing an art project instead of just letting them play with each other while I try to clean, check email and fold laundry. My son’s curiosity and need to explore every part of our house and remove every pot and pan from the cabinet. Normally I would put the pots away as soon as he turned his head. Today I found a saute pan under my pillow. It makes me laugh.
This isn’t my first post about stress and anxiety. And I’m sure it won’t be my last. I still wake up in the mornings thinking about what needs to be done. But I also think about hanging out with my kids. Cuddling with my husband. Playing with my dogs. Finding my calm in the center of the storm. My rash has lessened. I didn’t yell or cry today. Tomorrow the rumblings will begin again of the size and strength of the storm. But I will continue to remind myself that in the center of storm lies the eye. And that is where I will try to be.
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About the Author: Courtney Abrams is a Health Coach and Founder of Roslyn Wellness. Trained at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she helps clients work within the realities of their day to day lives to find ways to make small and manageable changes to their health that can maintained over time. Her clients include people trying to lose weight, beat sugar, increase their energy, cook simple healthful food and reduce stress to name a few. She also shares a passion for food policy and educating people about the foods they are eating and the governmental role behind much of it. You can learn more about Courtney and Roslyn Wellness at http://RoslynWellness.com.