I am an anxious person. This is not news, but as I continue to navigate my way through life I continue trying to find the “why” behind my feelings/emotions/behaviors. Fear and anxiety are hardwired into our psychology for good reason – these intuitive emotions help to protect us from dangerous situations. Fear can act as a motivator to prepare us for the unexpected, but fear can also act as a paralytic.
My fear has somehow evolved over time from a healthy and mindful reminder of my boundaries, to an unkempt field of weeds.
The thing about me is that while I acknowledge that I am anxious and overly fearful at times, I am also actively working against myself to determine what is real, and what is not. I am quite literally filtering through my fears. What is causing me to feel anxious most of the time is a false reality somehow skewed by my experiences over time. When we try to repress these thoughts or feelings we continue to stay stuck in an unhealthy cycle, making poor choices along the way. When we acknowledge these thoughts or feelings we grow.
I choose to swim through these thoughts rather than allow them to drown me.
Life experiences play a large role in our mental health, but I truly believe that a significant amount of our dysphoria is reflective of our physical bodies as well. Hormonal imbalances, and digestive distresses are key factors in our mental health. The gut is referred to as our second brain for a reason, the close knit inner workings of our true brain and our guts are very real. What we think we feel, and what we feel we think.
The reason we feel like we need to rush to the bathroom when we are nervous, or when we feel a pain in our stomach when we are afraid, is all relative to these homeostatic relationships within our bodies.
I have a borderline obsession with researching the topic of physical and mental health correlations, and the knowledge I have gained has me often wanting to scream the benefits of proper nutrition and lifestyle from the tallest mountain. Sometimes though, these basic humanistic necessities aren’t enough to balance our inner beings, and we need a little help from external sources. My hormones have been out of whack for an unreasonable amount of time, and I recently decided to experiment with a herbal hormone balancing blend.
I am blown away by the results.
For the first time in what feels like lightyears I feel balanced. I feel stable. I feel less anxious and less “down.” I’m not saying this is a magic bullet, but I do believe in the power of nature helping to bring us back to our factory setting. My mood the last month has been lighter, I have been more sociable, I have been more empathetic, more compassionate. I have been more…whole.
My fear is still hanging around, but most of the scenarios in which I feel fearful are realistic.
Examples of appropriate fear I have recently felt are: not wanting to drive in the snow, and challenging the idea of a hike in the snow. Snow and I are not good pals. I once got lost for hours on a hike because of snow, and I have slid too many times on the roads because of snow. Examples of inappropriate fear I have recently felt are: fear of rejection, and wanting to cancel on friends because I fear being a burden. Spoiler alert – a worthy friend will never make you feel like a burden.
With downs come ups, and it feels good to be on the other end of this yo-yo. I know the downs are inevitable, but I’ll take the ups for as long as I can. With the shift in my mood I have had more of a desire to be social, to get out of my comfort bubble of isolation and spend more time with others. I am thankful to have met new pals who enjoy hiking as much as I do, and each “yes” I say when I am invited on a hike helps propel me further forward.
I turned 32 last week, and while I had big plans of spending every year of my 30’s in Europe, Covid had other plans. Instead I went for a hike with three new pals. A snowy, wet, adventurous, new to me hike. I swear I just turned 30, yet here we are already at 32. The older I get the more I reflect on my life in my 20’s. Somedays I feel I have made zero progress in my life, but each year I make moves in the right direction. I no longer feel the need to “fix” my problems. I am content in diving deep to the roots of what I am feeling.
The beauty of change.
It’s ok to feel fear. It’s ok to feel anxious. What’s not ok is letting these feelings control you. The beneficial fear is directly related to physical safety, while the rest of it is a result of over thinking, societal conditions, and unresolved trauma from earlier in life. I am finding joy in this process of working through the weeds I have grown in my mind. For so long I have avoided my own mental garden, but how freeing it feels to be so in tune with myself.
What would happen if we looked at the bigger picture of our lives? If we are feeling more anxious, more fearful, or more down than normal. Are we taking care of our physical body? Have we allowed ourselves to work through any weeds in our minds? Are we spending time with others, in whatever manner works for us with the current state of the world? This is a classic case of what came first, the mental or physical ailments? Small changes in the things we can control have the power to make large changes in the things we cannot.
I am one year older, but I feel multiple years wiser. I can only imagine this continues to get better as I continue to age.
To anyone out there who feels paralyzed by fear, you are not alone. I challenge you to question the root cause of these feelings, and to filter out what is true and what is conditioned over years of imbalances. Say yes to something that scares you, tell someone how you feel about them, value your worth because you only get one shot at this thing called life.
We can choose to stay stuck in the shadows, or we can learn to dance in the sun.
Q: How do you deal with fear?