I woke up this morning and opened my curtains to find a lovely late summer morning. I normally don't do this but I decided to take my time. I made a cappuccino (a lovely gift from my boyfriend) opened up my new Bon Appetit and sat with the morning glories and crickets for about an hour. As I sat and read, I thought to myself "Why is it September 1st and this is the first time I am doing this this summer?"
I am fortunate enough to live a 1/2 mile from the beach and have a patio off of my bedroom. I need to take advantage! Well that is what I decided to do every day until it gets too cold to sit outside (with my morning glories).
Which brings me to what actually concerns me...STRESS & ANXIETY! I happen to be one of those people that are prone to being anxious, high strung, and tense (I sound like a blast I know haha). I tend to worry about things that may or may not happen in the future. I realize fully that this is useless, that worrying about something is not going to make any difference as to the outcome of a situation (and when I think about the times I fantasized an outcome...it never turned out the way I thought!). I have made it my personal mission to try not to let myself be effected by things that I cannot control. I still get frustrated and angry and worry, but not nearly as much as I did prior to reading a good book and completing a course on becoming less anxious.
A little background information about myself (in a nutshell)...
When I was in high school I remember myself being one of those girls that did what I wanted and if you didn't like it you didn't have to be in my life (somehow I still have the same great group of friends today!). I should have gotten in trouble more times than I can even remember, but apparently had a guardian angel looking over me. I wasn't reckless, but I wasn't careful either. My father asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said "an artist". His response was "artists don't make any money". I didn't care. I went to college half way across the country- twice. I got my bachelors and masters degrees in architecture (which was when I started suffering from self-imposed anxiety and by the way all anxiety is self-imposed). A week after graduation I moved to Atlanta for a job that I knew in my gut I didn't want to do. I took it because it was a great salary right out of college and that is what architecture graduates were supposed to do- sit in a cubicle and fix other people's shitty mistakes on ugly meaningless projects. During the eight or nine months I worked there every day was a countdown (this is where my anxiety gets bad).
I wake up- countdown until I get into my car...
I get in my car- countdown until I get to my office...
I sit at my desk- countdown until I can leave my office...
I get home- countdown until I have to go to sleep...
So you can see where I went off track. After I quit that job (just in the nick of time right before the real estate bubble burst) I moved home and did nothing for two months. I didn't know what to do. After I got sick of cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, going out for coffee, dinner and drinks, I offered to paint my parents house (the outside...I'm laughing as I write this because that is how bored I was...I WANTED TO PAINT THE EXTERIOR OF THE HOUSE!!). Luckily for me that was when I decided I was going to start looking for a job...and voila! Five weeks later I had a job doing something I knew nothing about (men's clothing), but I didn't care because it was creative and it paid money and it wasn't architecture.
That lasted about a year and a half until, for several reasons, I quit that and started working with my father. Almost immediately my Nani was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. Immediately I was in charge of running the business and helping my father with Nani. It was nonstop craziness for five months. I worked and worked and when I wasn't working I was at the house cooking and taking care of what needed to be done. I got in a workout every now and again, but through the whole ordeal I gained at least 10 lbs. After Nani passed away everything stopped. The stress stopped, the busyness stopped.
Since college I had suffered from a low level of constant anxiety, and would get extremely stressed out in certain situations mostly involving too much work to do with too little time to do it in. I was very anxious all the time, and the partying and heavy drinking on the weekends didn't make matters better. Needless to say, I woke up wide awake one Monday morning about a month after Nani died at 6:30am (something that NEVER happens). I had racing thoughts and panic feelings. I tried to go back to sleep, tossed and turned, thoughts raced some more. I tried to get up out of bed to get ready for work, but would pace from the bathroom back to the bed. This lasted for 3 hours. I didn't realize I was in the middle of an anxiety attack until much later, but my father helped me by taking me to get this book, The Feeling Good Handbook. I spent the next week going through this book which I credit with getting me out of that anxiety hole I was in. I also ordered the Midwest Center's Attacking Anxiety & Depression Program and dove right in.
The Attaching Anxiety program took 15 weeks to complete, and it was worth every minute and every penny. After I finished, I still had a little bit of generalized anxiety, but a couple of months after I finished it hit me one day....I haven't had the anxious feeling in a long time. It has been 7 months since I am anxiety free and I feel like I am myself again- back to doing what motivates me! It is amazing how little by little you can get off track and all of a sudden you are having a panic attack at 6:30am on a Monday morning.
Stress, anxiety, and depression put unnecessary strain on your body in many different ways. When I look back at the high-stress or anxiety periods in my life I was always sick. When I lived in Atlanta I was sick every other week, and at one point for an entire month! I think this happens for two reasons- first stress/anxiety/depression cause chemical reactions in your body that cause a chain reaction. Your body is a machine. When one part isn't working properly it stresses the other parts, and when there is too much stress your body can't defend itself from invaders (colds, flus, infections, even growing cancer cells!) In my case I think the constant anxiety effected my immune system. The other reason is that for someone with chronic anxiety, it is easier to deal with a cold than it is to deal with the things that are causing the anxiety (the fact that I hated my job, the fact that I was 8 states away from my family and friends to name a few).
One of the most important things you can do to keep your body in a healthy state (just as important as the food you eat in my opinion) is keep your stress level down and work towards eliminating anxiety, panic, and depression. Stress is something that is sometimes out of your control. It is life. Sometimes life is good, and others it is bad. But I fully believe that anxiety, panic, and depression are 100% curable- I repeat 100% curable without drugs. Because I am living proof. It wasn't easy. I did alot of soul searching, thinking, and analyzing. But I can testify that I do not have any more anxiety and I did not take any meds in the process.
Being less stressed makes life much more pleasant- so you can put everything aside and sit and enjoy a cup of coffee on a peaceful morning with the crickets!
RELAX! Your job will still be there, the laundry will get done. Everything will be okay!