Do you suffer from anxiety? Do feelings of uneasiness or apprehension consume you during difficult times?
I don’t know if I appear to be an anxious person on the outside. Most people who know and see me in my day-to-day life (except maybe my immediate family ’cause they see it all) probably think I’m a pretty calm person. But what I’m showing on the outside and what’s going on inside doesn’t always match up. Even if I can make myself appear calm, I often have chaos going on inside my brain.
Anxiety can take hold of me without warning when life gets stressful.
If you were to listen inside my head at any given time, you’d probably hear the chorus to Everyday I’m Hustlin’ on repeat in the background (No, really. When I get too busy that song won’t stop playing in my head) with my to-do list on auto scroll: Make doctor’s appointment, email client, schedule social media, register Luke for soccer, fold the laundry, blah, blah, blah.
Just thinking about it is making me anxious right now. It’s one of the reasons I decided to do this Mindfulness Challenge.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
When you’re able to do this, anxiety melts away. My #1 source of anxiety is having too much to do. When I have too much to do, the chaos in my mind makes me anxious.
It hasn’t been easy. It’s taken some focused concentration to get rid of old habits of allowing my thoughts to constantly be on overdrive thinking of the next thing I need to do. Practicing mindfulness is helping me calm my mind and focus on the present moment. I’m teaching myself to STOP the playlist inside my head.
The #2 source of my anxiety is technical problems relating to this blog. Technology and I aren’t really friends. I’m a blogger who doesn’t get website jargon. Fancy that. It’s stressful when things go wrong and I have no idea why it’s happening or how to fix it.
It’s not been easy to acknowledge and accept feelings based on website problems (yaaaas I’m frustrated!) and not let them consume me.
This challenge is making me more aware of how I deal with having too much to do and stress. I’ve forced myself to practice mindfulness in my day-t0-day life. And guess what? It’s working. Here’s how I know it’s working.
The last few weeks I’ve had a lot going on. Blog work has been especially challenging to fit in this summer with the kids home. I’m trying to coordinate a blog redesign and it’s been stalled more than I’d like. I planned a 40th birthday party for Tim, and we also had a trip to Mexico for our 10 year anniversary. I just returned last night and while the trip was fabulous, getting back to reality is harsh. I didn’t work on vacation so I have a much longer to-do list than normal.
On top of all of this “stuff” I’ve had to do, there has been odd website issues. First, Google sent me an email telling me my site had something malicious on it and I was being demoted in search rankings. I have a tech guy who scanned my site and found nothing malicious; my ad company stated it wasn’t their ads. In the meantime, Google placed a huge warning sign blocking my site. Stress!
Next, my hosting company suspended my account saying that I was using too many resources for my plan. Normally this would mean I was getting a ton of traffic, but in this case it actually meant “bad robots” were coming to my site too often. No, I don’t even know what that means. But it’s not good and needed to be figured out and fixed.
I get my site back up and running aaaaand now my wordpress platform wasn’t functioning properly and even answering comments on my site took four times as long as it should.
Then, my account got suspended again and my tech guy had to spend hours and hours fixing my database. Thank God I hired someone to help me with tech stuff a few months back! Mindfulness would have been much more difficult without him.
If all of this would have been happening at the same time before this Mindfulness Challenge, I tell you I would not have handled it well. In fact, I can say with certainty the stress of it all would have triggered a cold sore. No matter how hard I try to hide the stress I’m feeling on the inside, my body has to deal with it in some way, and that is usually how it manifests.
This time I’ve handled the stress differently, though. I’ve had to stop several times in the last few weeks and just breathe. I’ve focused on my bodily sensations, and totally acknowledged the way these problems make me feel. And then? I’ve moved on. Yep, I’ve been frustrated. And it’s okay. My mind isn’t ping ponging anxious thoughts through my brain like it normally would. I’m dealing. I’m thriving despite setbacks and frustrations. The fact that I haven’t gotten a cold sore shows I’m keeping my body more calm.
I’m not saying mindfulness is the answer to all anxiety problems. But it is sure helping mine. Without a doubt, if you have stress in your life, practicing mindfulness can help defuse it. For tips on how to practice mindfulness every day, check out this post.