Anxiety can manifest itself in so many different ways. Not everyone suffers in the same way, nor do they share the same physical symptoms. Over the years I’ve found that almost every physical issue I’ve had has in some way been related to stress.
Self-care is essential to well-being. I’ve seen a lot written about it recently. There are so many different forms of self-care, be it meditation, yoga, exercise, regular massages, talk therapy and warm baths. If I fall out of putting time aside for self-care, I suffer. I’m suffering for it as I write this. For the last few weeks I’ve been travelling, partially for pleasure and for work. Just prior to leaving I came down with a cold which left me feeling too run down to get my usual workouts in. I was lazy on while on vacation as I was still recovering and started to fall into the trap of not exercising. I literally arrived home from vacation and left the following day to work overseas. Those days were packed with meetings and evenings out with colleagues, plus a time change. No time for self-care (there was, I just didn’t take it). Returning home, I got busy with Christmas just around the corner. That meant more imbibing than usual, more eating, less exercise. Combined with the jet lag, it’s a recipe for disaster.
The impact of all of the above has been that my anxiety is manifesting through upset stomach, bloating, fatigue and heart palpitations. I feel like shit. And now that I’ve been away from my routine, it’s really hard to get back into it. In hindsight, even getting in a daily brisk walk during those weeks I wasn’t feeling well, and finding some time to do some yoga in my hotel room while travelling would have been hugely beneficial. As I’ve mentioned before, the workouts help burn that excess anxiety and keep me balanced. I’m working on rectifying that now. I was able to get in a light workout a two days ago, and I’m about to embark on another very shortly. Getting back into a healthy routine will bring back the balance. It’s a challenge during the holidays, but so damned important.
In the past, I’ve experienced the impact of my anxiety in the form of incredibly tight shoulders leading to a long issue with neck pain. It’s also impacted my jaw from clenching all night long. I’ve had back pain, and something resembling IBS, and other bouts of heart palpitations, as well as acid reflux.
Self-care is so important, even when you’re feeling fantastic. Staying on track, setting your goals, keeping a log of the good things that you’re doing for yourself is helpful to managing the physical symptoms that can arise after long periods of stress or anxiety. Meditation has been extremely helpful to helping manage the negative thoughts that put my stomach into knots. It’s also a great way to start or end the day, with gratitude or loving kindness.
The holiday’s don’t have to be a stressful time. I think it’s important to put things into perspective and manage expectations, especially at Christmas. As with everything in my life, I strive to make it perfect like a fairy tale. What I need to constantly remind myself of is that it doesn’t matter how the table looks, or if the tree if perfect (mine is not, it toppled over at 2 am and scared the living shit out of everyone the other night), or if I spent enough money on the gifts to make people happy – what matters is that I have food on the table to eat, and it truly is the thought that counts when it comes to the presents. Most importantly, I get to spend my holiday with people I love dearly.
So this week, I will be exercising regularly, taking warm baths, petting my dogs, drinking holiday tea, grabbing a daily nap, meditating and getting outdoors to enjoy some fresh air. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2018 with a positive, focused and calm mindset.