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April 20, 2021

18 Words to Put your Anxiety in Check.


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Sometimes I wonder why there are so many hours in a day.

And other times I feel like the hours are flying by and I’m powerless to slow them down.

Some mornings I lie in bed, barely awake but already drowning in a blanket of anxiety as I think about all the things I know need to be accomplished.

And some nights, I go to bed with a running list of all the things I failed at or forgot or should have said or meant to do or purposely ignored because I. just. couldn’t.

There are moments—minutes, hours, eons even—when I hide behind my phone, hoping that my responsibilities and stress and anxiety will kindly take the hint and see themselves out.

And there are moments when my phone, this tiny box of constant connection and depressing news and unanswered texts, seems to be the key to all my stress and anxiety.

But my phone is also where I found this quote, so…

Yesika Salgado is a Salvadorian poet and activist. (If you haven’t followed her on Instagram, do it—now!) And with 18 words, she flipped a switch in my mind about how I want to handle the overwhelm, the failure, the stress. The life.

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I’ve been obsessing over this quote for almost a month. Repeating it in my head when I start to feel the tightness in my chest or the anger rising in my voice or the “what the f*ck” preparing to escape my lips.

But I couldn’t figure out why. I couldn’t figure out exactly what these words meant to me. Why they caused me to mellow out, even momentarily, but also left me feeling like a certified badass.

And then it came to me:

There will always be stuff that needs to get done, to-do lists full of obligations, people who count on me, and sometimes I will climb those mountains and reach the summit, or at least get high enough to feel accomplished. And other times, I will trip on the way up and come tumbling down, usually with zero grace and a slightly bruised ego (and ass).

But I can also choose what and how much goes on that to-do list. I can choose to forget the hours and just focus on the moment, this moment—now. I can choose to love and care for the people in my life only to the extent that I am loving and caring for myself, and I can trust that they will understand. I can choose to put the anxiety in check. I can choose to say “No” or “Stop” or “I’m not ready” or “I don’t want to” or “I need this” or “I will not settle for less” or “I have to do less” or “I need to rest.”

I can choose to make the mountain bend to my will.

So when the stress and the overwhelm and the failure and the anxiety start to bubble up, when I feel them needling me to do more and be more and accomplish more and climb the mountain, I will remember that it is my choice. I can decide how to handle the overwhelm, the failure, the stress. The life.

I can choose to teach the damn mountain how to kneel.


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