Hello! I hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday. I'm blogging a little late today since I spent a lovely day with a couple of different friends.
As I discussed on Monday, I've been reading through Sarah Wilson's First We Make the Beast Beautiful, a memoir about anxiety, and I find myself taking copious notes.
Wilson offers a lot of practical tips for managing anxiety. And these are the ones that resonate most with me so far.
Meditation. "When you’re an anxious type, meditation is nonnegotiable," Wilson writes. I substitute prayer for meditation. (I've also done Christian meditation classes with a group of octogenarians using John Main tapes) . A lot of people think that prayer is about petitioning God, but I think it's more about engaging with Him. In the immortal words of Michelle William's character's grandmother on Dawson's Creek, "Child, you've got it backwards. Prayer doesn't change God. Prayer changes me." Amen to that.
Walking. Walking is salve for the soul. As Wilson writes, "when you focus on the breath and the earth and the steps as a simple bodily sensation, you dampen the noisy, wandering storyline mechanism." I love going for walks in the summer but in the icy winter, I slack off. I'm looking forward to the spring when walking is easier.
Cooking. Wilson recommends the "witchy, grandmotherly type of cooking where you prepare
things from scratch and you treat it as a hobby, not a chore to be rushed through." I'm a terrible cook since I'm forever reading something while I stir and end up burning everything. But I want to focus on it more now that my daughter has such a restrictive diet. I imagine lazy Sunday afternoons, meal prepping with a glass of wine. Winter is a wonderful time for that!
Supplements. I'm not a great eater, so I'm a big believer in vitamins. Wilson writes, "Many of us are deficient in magnesium, since our food is grown in magnesium depleted soil. But evidence also shows it’s a boon for calming us. Take an Epsom salt bath or try magnesium citrate or a topical magnesium gel. Vitamin D is worth looking into, ditto vitamin B6 and vitamin C. And zinc. And having your thyroid levels tested." Check, check, and check. I also take an Omega 3 at the request of my eye doctor, and I take biotin for thicker hair.
Massage. Wilson reports that "massage therapy decreased cortisol levels in the study participants by as much as 31 per cent and increased serotonin and dopamine levels by the same amount." You don't have to tell me this twice. I booked a massage - something I've not done in years - as soon as I read this. I had her focus on my bad posture and writer's hunch and I felt better almost right away.
Perspective. If you struggle with anxiety one of the best things you can do is give yourself a break. I LOVED this passage in Wilson's book: "Dian Fossey ... followed a tribe of chimps for several years. ... in all chimp troops, there always exists a small number that are anxious/depressed and that tend to retreat to the outskirts of the troop, often socially disengaged. Fossey decided to remove these agitated chimps to see what would happen. Six months later the entire community was dead. It was suggested that the anxious chimps were pivotal for survival." Anxious people are the ones to say, maybe smoking is bad for us, maybe car should have seat belts, maybe we should not eat those weird looking berries. Our vigilance keeps everyone alive. People really ought to be thanking us! My anxiety is much diminished these days, but it is not gone entirely (I am still me...) But knowing that we all have a place in God's kingdom - even the jittery chicken little types - is a huge anxiety reliever.
I also swear by lots of sleep, evening baths, and very little caffeine.
What do you do to manage anxiety? Any tips to share?