Hello, Anxiety? Is that You?

Difficulty sleeping. Check. Gastrointestinal discomfort. Check. Racing thoughts. Check. Persistent worry about day to day life. Check. Shoot if this goes on for another five months, I will officially have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Bring on the Xanax. Oh wait… I’m a therapist… Bring on the self-affirmations.

It’s been just over three weeks since we got engaged and there has been a lot of excitement. Holidays, celebrations, family, friends. It’s all been great. However, all of that Excitement has come with it’s accomplice… Anxiety. I tend to be prone to situational anxiety. I remember one time near the end of grad school when I was nearly having a panic attack on the phone with my mom, probably due to me infamously biting off the very near finality of what I can chew. Her advice in a calming and encouraging voice was for me to “therapize” (Chuck’s made up word when he thinks I am trying to therapeutically console or process with him) myself to get out of it. I snapped at her and said, “What do you think I’m doing… If I didn’t have some of this training, we would be calling 911.” So, anxiety is a familiar face to me. And it’s back.

I have had great difficulty sleeping lately. And as I have mentioned before, I like sleep. I am a good sleeper. You don’t want to be near me if I haven’t had good sleep. And you really don’t want to wake me up or mess with me as I am waking up. And yes, I am aware that I am in for a treat when a little bundle arrives. I have had so many thoughts about, well everything. I think it started with just wedding stuff. I am sure I was laying in bed thinking of places and colors and dresses and the execution of it all. Somewhere it gradually switched to weddings, honeymoons, showers, and other plans for the year. And now it is weddings, career moves, houses, and babies. You know, the smaller things in life. And when I think about things, I plan each minute detail. “Maybe we should paint that room this color. But I also like that color for the bouquets. So do I like for the flowers or the walls?” And repeat, sub in neighborhoods and honeymoon destinations.

So just after the three week mark of consistently inconsistent sleep and using all of my popular tools, journaling, chamomile tea, putting aside wedding/house/baby planning an hour before bed, a glass of wine (that one’s for me, not the clients), etc, I broke out the bottle of Melatonin I have on hand to dope my golden retriever during thunderstorms. On top of the anxiety, I have caught a cold (probably from the compromised immune system due to the symptoms of the anxiety) and needed to get some good sleep. The first two nights were a dream. Last night, I woke up once. I’ll take it.

Yoga is my miracle cure for the anxiety. You see, when we are feeling anxious, everything in our body starts working harder and faster… racing heart, GI problems, sweating, headaches, fatigue, racing thoughts. When I am feeling anxious, I know that I have to work very hard at slowing everything down. I need to take deep breaths and focus on slowing my heart. I need to eat simple, basic foods to decrease nausea and upset stomach. I also need to stretch and open my body to counterbalance the tension that I am putting it through clenching and tightening.

It always seems that our mental and physical illnesses are in a viscous cycle. I need sleep in order to feel productive in yoga but I need yoga in order to decrease the anxiety, thus getting back to a good night’s sleep. Anxiety is not the only point where this dilemma en lies and yoga is not the only solution (ex: I know I need to eat well and workout but I feel tired and fatigue from not eating well, thus can’t workout but if I workout then it will be easier to eat well). However, at any point in there we are given the opportunity of choice to make the change. I realize that once this cold passes and I am healthy, I will not have the best workout. However, it is from each workout that I can build. And from each workout I can build my strength, decrease my stress, and get back to that sleep I have been missing.

Thank goodness I’m a therapist. I don’t know how the rest of the brides do it.