I have anxiety. I’ve always had anxiety. I think I always will.
Although I am no longer living in a hopeless state, riding from panic attack to panic attack like I was two years ago, this is something I have to constantly manage.
I’ve spent the last few weeks speaking with some of the athletes I work with. This time of year is hard to manage. For most sports, there’s end of the year (or end of the season) meetings with coaches. These can be tough and I have for sure been through some unpleasant ones as both a player and a coach. There’s also exams and finals that create a lot of stress and chip away at our most precious stress antidote, rest and sleep.
In one of these conversations I had, an athlete asked me, “Well how did you do it? How did you get over your anxiety?”
As I went to open my mouth and answer, nothing came out. I drove home later that evening in silence. It was a hard question to answer because the reality is, I haven’t.
I absolutely love what I do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wake up and genuinely love this work. I teach and work with athletes through mindfulness, meditation, and yoga.
I provide a time and space where they don’t have to be anything other than themselves. I bring the yin to their yang. I believe it’s the one place in their whole day that they don’t have to be good or bad. They don’t have to be first or last. They don’t have to be a starter or someone on the bench. They don’t have to compete or grind. Words can’t describe what an honor and privilege that is for me.
But in addition to creating this space for them, I believe it’s also my job to be as genuine and authentic as I can. I didn’t get to this space by hiding, keeping secrets, or pretending to be something I am not.
So here is the answer to that athlete’s question because I believe it applies to everyone. The reality is.. we all have and experience anxiety:
Some days, my anxiety is not an issue. On those days it feels like, sure, I’m over it.
Some days, it’s a big issue. I am far from “over” it.
You see, some days I can hardly tell. I feel on top of the world and overly positive, and no it’s not just the 3 cups of coffee I had.
But some days I don’t leave my house.
Some days I am bubbly, outgoing, friendly. I’m actually super fun to be around.
Some days my nerves make me cold, irritable, and extremely unpleasant.
There are days when I am up at 5:00am, on to my workout and I’m overly productive on not one but two businesses I am trying to build.
But there are also the days when my thoughts are so out of control that I can’t sit down at my desk. I feel nauseous because I’m so anxious, so I resort to the couch. Working in those moments is definitely not happening.
There’s times where my broken heart doesn’t hurt so bad and I’m ready for whatever adventure might present itself to me, whether that’s a special someone or not.
Then there’s the days where I am still so hurt. My heart aches so much that I feel I may never be able to use it again.
Some days I fully practice what I preach. I feel the foundations of mindfulness, meditation and yoga radiating out of me.
Then, there are the days I feel like a straight up hypocrite. Ashamed that on these days I can’t simply “practice what I preach.” I feel like a chicken with my head chopped off.
There are times when I have no problem calling a friend to go on a walk or going out a night to be social with friends.
But there’s also times I’m embarrassed to text people, to tell them I’m at home on a Friday night, and I’m struggling, yet again.
Some days I’m not ashamed to call my mom or text my sister with the annoying little things that they’ve heard a thousand times. I’m anxious. I’m restless. I need you to talk me through this.
Some days I shut them out because I want them to live a life where they don’t have to deal with those annoying little things. The things they may get tired of having to hear.
Sometimes I’m able to see my vision, my values, my WHY for my life. I take a marker to the vision boards on my wall and don’t stop for hours.
But sometimes I can barely get my shoes on without shit hitting the fan.
There are the days I feel like I am worthy of finding love, passion, and a partner to walk through life with.
There’s also many days where I don’t even think my stuffed animal elephant would fall in love with me.
Some days I feel energized and strong. My workouts are a breeze and I physically feel like I am healthier than I have ever been.
And some days, I feel like I am nothing but a bag of bones nursing my old injuries and simply trying to keep myself walking straight.
You see, I’m not sure that anxiety goes away.
There was once a time when I thought this was the case. That anxiety was something to be cured of. That maybe one day it’s something that we just grow out of.
The truth is that it ebbs and flows. It comes and it goes. Some days it’s fine. Some days it’s just not. I fully believe in the power of knowing and accepting that this is just the case. So my work lately has been can I not only accept this but be grateful for what this may bring to my life? Is this serving me for a greater purpose?
Although that may be a work in progress, in the meantime, I believe in doing the little things each and every day to make sure that I have the most solid foundation beneath my feet.
I put things on my schedule that get me up and moving. I exercise and move my body every single day. I meditate, even when I don’t want to because this is really what has the ability to change my brain. I feed and nourish my body with good, nutrient dense foods and for the most part, try to only drink one night a week. I go to therapy, because therapy is freaking awesome and a comfortable space to be able to talk and speak freely without judgment or fear. I read and listen to podcasts that provide me with perspective, awareness and insight. I consistently ask myself “What more can I learn today?” I constantly remind myself who is my support group and a positive influence in my life.
The list can go on and on. These are the things that set us up for success, even on the days when things are really not OK.
So to my overly stressed and tired athletes, people, friends.
I didn’t get rid of anything. It’s all still here.
Some days I just have to give myself a little more love.