I felt like I had tried everything under the sun.
There I was again, sitting in bed, trying to meditate, with a cup of calming tea beside me.
Doing all of the things that I was told should help. Working on implementing my morning routine.
Waking up at 6:00 a.m., and then feeling exhausted and run down for the rest of the day. But I thought the sleep deprivation was worth the promised gains that I was supposed to experience.
I felt like I was trapped in a downward spiral. The more that I did to try and dig myself out of my anxiety, the more frustrated I became. Nothing seemed to really work. Except for the temporary satisfaction that I got from carving out the time in my busy schedule to do something that I thought was good for me, I was mentally and emotionally drained. I guess what we resist persists, right?
Does this sound familiar to you?
I think a lot of us in our current society are silently struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression that are not even reported. It can even just be due to high stress. Trying to balance our family life, work life, social life, and health. Who has the time and energy for that? I feel tired just thinking about it.
On top of that, we blame ourselves when we fall off the wagon or drop the ball on any of these commitments. These negative thoughts and perceptions are even worse than our previous actions, and we spiral downward even further.
The curse of being a modern woman.
In addition, being professional, career-driven women, I think we get extra pressure put onto our plates.
Allow me to explain.
I would not go so far as to call myself a feminist, but I do think that women are still struggling to keep up with men on the career front. However, despite our modern society, there are still some unspoken trends of women being the caretaker of children and manager of the household, among other things. Both of these things contribute to a significant load of extra work. These expectations still do exist, whether you believe it or not.
That being said, for women to be able to maintain their sanity and truly have everything they want comes down to one simple thing. We need to prioritize ourselves and our well-being first and foremost.
This could mean saying no to things and setting firm boundaries. It could also mean carving out the time for self-care. Like intentional self-care. This means activities like going to a fitness class, booking a facial, taking a bath, or going on a coffee date. This definitely does not mean spending extra time on social media, which can feel calming in the moment but can have quite the opposite effect.
Back to my anxiety story…
The pressures and expectations that I put on myself, in combination with those of society, were starting to really get me down. I had also recently gone through a breakup. I was in the mode of reflecting on my life, past achievements, and deciding what to do next.
Something had to change. None of my coping methods were working.
I should also mention at this point that I am a holistic nutritionist, and my goal is to help women boost their own health and well-being. Meanwhile, I was struggling with my own vitality, even though I was eating healthy, which also made me believe that I was a fraud. Cue the imposter syndrome.
Getting myself back on track.
The key shifts that allowed me to overcome anxiety were not what you would think. Yes, I started going for walks outside in the morning, a blessing of working from home and being an entrepreneur. Yes, I started hitting the gym more often and spending more time with friends. Of course, I also tried the latest supplements and treatments.
You name it, I tried it. Seriously. I even tried meditation again, for seemingly the hundredth time.
So what was the magic solution?
This is going to sound super simple and ridiculous to some of you. I was astonished myself at the results. What did I do? I honestly just let that sh*t go. I stopped caring. Completely.
However, I did this in an extremely empowering way. Not in a sad, I-hate-my-life kind of way.
I let go of the expectations, the stupid pressures, the negative thoughts, and the opinions of others. I just allowed myself to be the human mess that I am and embrace the full emotional experience that life has to offer. I stopped fighting so hard against the things that I did not want.
I also stopped trying to get rid of the feelings by doing all of the things that I was told to do that would help. I became present with my internal experience. I even gave up on meditation, because the act of trying to do it and failing was far more devastating than just not doing it at all.
That is the simple answer.
Surprising? I thought so too, at first.
Life is much more simple than what we make it out to be. The key to reducing anxiety is to do the things that bring you joy and do them regularly—not the things that you think you are supposed to do to get yourself out of a particular state of mind.
If you take anything from this article, I hope that you give yourself the permission and space to just fully be in the moment and accept yourself for who you really are.