Grounding

When it comes to anxiety, I’ve found that the best way to overcome situations is by practicing grounding techniques.

Grounding is being present in your body and connected with the earth, allowing you to feel centered and balanced no matter what’s going on around you. I remember as a child I would practice this without even realizing: I would kick off my socks/shoes and dig my toes into the patch of ground closest to my house. Feeling the dirt beneath my feet always made me feel calm. From time to time I still do this, but when it comes to Canadian Winters, I need to find other techniques

1) Involve your senses: make a cup of your favorite tea, wear your grandmother’s sweater or, use essential oils. Being lost in nostalgia through your senses will calm you down and bring you back to the present

2) Self Soothe: Draw yourself a bubble bath/take a hot shower, light some candles around the place/put on the fireplace channel or, listen to some spa music. Try to set your atmosphere into a calming zone. Don’t worry if this is not your scene if you’d rather calm down by listening to metal, GO FOR IT.

3) Observe: Aside from the anxiety-ridden thoughts that are running through your head, what else is happening around you? Sometimes when I’m driving, I can get a little anxious. When I do, I try to give as much detail towards other objects surrounding me as a distraction: “The car in front of me is a Blue Sedan with the license plate number XXX-XXX its bumper has a slight ding on the right-hand side most likely from exiting a parking garage.” Observing others and objects around you brings you back into the present and is a great trick when you’re on the road

4) Breathing: I cannot stress this exercise enough as most people with anxiety can sometimes forget how to breathe. I posted a great video to follow. However, if you need a quick tip use 4-7-8: Inhale to 4, hold to 7, exhale to 8.

5) Distraction: This tip is excellent not only for oneself but for others who want to help with family/friends when they experience an anxiety attack. This trick is called 5-4-3-2-1, and once you get the ball rolling you’ll notice that by the end you won’t feel as anxious anymore:

List 5 things that you can see
List 4 things that you can touch
List 3 things that you can hear
List 2 things that you can smell
List 1 emotion that you feel

Grief and Acceptance

20 years ago I lost my mother to a long battle of cancer. From the age of three to eleven I had to understand what exactly was happening to her and didn’t fully grasp it until I saw an episode of Charlie Brown called “Why, Charlie Brown, Why?”.why charlie brown why

When I approached my mother after the show tears welled up as I asked “do you have cancer?” the room fell silent as she nodded yes. I tried my best to be hopeful, knowing that within the episode the character survived her cancer. My mother beat it once; there was no reason for me to believe it couldn’t happen again.

Not long afterward she passed away. I remember being angry for the longest time – I didn’t know how to access my emotions properly and became reclusive as the depression sank in. I felt so incredibly alone even though I lived with my adoptive father. We never had the best relationship, and we handled our grief entirely differently. He went through the five stages of grief within a year whereas I was stuck in the fourth stage, depression, for too long. It probably didn’t help that I had other stressors in life and I would always think that if only she would still be here, things would have gone differently.

Recently I read “The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck,” and a chapter on grief hit me hard. How I reacted to my mother’s death was my own choice.

Pain of one sort or another is inevitable for all of us, but we get to choose what it means to and for us.

It was my choice to wallow in my grief, and I know now that it wasn’t healthy for me. I didn’t choose how my life unfolded, but I was capable of choosing HOW to live with it. It took a long time to accept that my mother wouldn’t physically be around anymore. I would always think about my life adventures that she would miss out on – graduations, marriage, kids, etc. Sometimes I would have to stay home from work on this date just to make sure I wouldn’t show my “ugly cry” to others.

20 years later and this date still brings a tear to my eye. I don’t think my sadness will ever entirely go away, but I can make a choice – to celebrate the woman that she was and all of the positive influences that she brought to me. Her unconditional love made my heart full, and I cannot wait to share that once I have kids.

In the past couple of months, I inherited some pieces of vinyl from my Aunt that belonged to my mother. She signed the cover of her Beatles and Supremes LP’s, and I’m so thankful to call them a part of my collection. As well, My husband came home with Candy Buttons during Christmas. I was elated to tell him that it was my mother’s favorite. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, and I know today is that day.IMG_3160

I will be spending the remainder of the day unplugged from social media and just focusing on how much my mother meant to me.

If you have any wonderful memories of Reesa Stein, please leave them in the comments

Social Anxiety

I’m not going to lie; I’ve had a difficult past couple of months. I won’t delve into my issues but recently it started to get better, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Usually, when I have rough months my anxiety kicks into full gear, and it’s still a daily struggle to get out of my element. So when my best friend in Montreal decided to host an event for her book launch, I was determined to show up for support. The only thing is, how was I going to deal with a crowd? If you know me personally, you most likely know that it takes a lot for me to show up at a party where I know no one. I decided I needed to break through my rough patch and support her.

When my husband and I arrived, I immediately walked into the venue and assessed where the exits were. Only one, so I hugged the side of the walls closest to the door. People started to show up in large groups and blocked the only entrance/exit, and my heart started to race. social anxiety
My best friend was rushing around but somehow found the time to come up to mention “why are you all alone?!” and then introduced me to one of her friends. I extended my hand for a greeting, but in all honesty, my heart rate elevated, my mouth suddenly lost all moisture, and I got an overwhelming sensation that I was too awkward because of my trembling hands. My husband noticed and ushered us into the larger part of the venue where vendors were set up, and the air was blasting. Getting the rush of cold air helped me calm down as I started to concentrate on my breathing. Soon enough a close friend of the family (Whom I refer to as my Aunt) stopped by and took my mind off of what was battling in my head. Keeping me engaged in a conversation took my mind off of the crowd becoming larger in our space and grounded me (Thank you!!)

I spent a solid two hours at this event alongside some acquaintances and was extremely proud that I didn’t bolt out immediately. If this happened several years ago, I never would have thought of coming out. One of the things that I learned in therapy was that I need to expose myself to situations that frighten me, that’s the only way that I’ll grow as a person. Overcoming my social anxiety wasn’t an easy task, but with the right CBT therapies, it can get better over time (take baby steps!!)
I’m thankful that I didn’t miss out on my friend’s success and I’m so proud of her accomplishment “Thrive Through Self-Care.”