Untangling Your Relationship with Anxiety

What if your anxiety wasn’t something to figure out or fix? What if it was… just anxiety

I hear you. I know it’s not just anxiety. I know the pain and paralysis of a spinning mind and panicked body well. This is familiar territory. In fact, I own land there and still go back to visit often!

But hear me out.

For many moms with anxiety, it’s accompanied by this enormous pressure disguised as a little glimmer of hope…

If I can just figure out the solution/answer to this specific thing (my weight, my relationship, this money stuff, that problem with the kids, etc.) then _________________. 

Fill in the blank with some variation of safety or happiness: I can relax, I can do that art class I want to take, I’ll be able to play more… The neverending list of things you would/could/should do if you weren’t so damn debilitated by anxiety. 

Anxiety is debilitating, mama. I hear you.

It’s like a fine chain necklace wrapped around your entire life: tangled, delicate, nearly impossible to navigate without somehow tightening the knots… keeping you from being who you want to be and participating in life the way you want to. 

You’re right. That’s a HUGE problem. 

But… the problem isn’t the anxiety itself. In my experience, anxiety is only the external symptom of some deeper internal experience – usually, feeling disconnected and unsafe (in the body and with people). Disconnection and unmet needs for safety, love, and acceptance are the things that send you into a tailspin in the first place and trigger your people-pleasing or perfectionistic tendencies… which are at the real anxiety-sparkers, right?

Anxiety is what it feels like to walk through life without roots – without an internal source of love, connection, and worthiness. 

In my years as a yoga instructor, healer, and meditation teacher, it’s become so clear to me that the real problem is feeling chronically disconnected and unsafe.

I know that when you’re in it, it doesn’t seem so simple. Seeing anxiety for what it is as you’re experiencing it is kind of like trying to see the washing machine that you’re being tossed around and drowned by. Impossible. 

A Way Out

If you’re flopping around in the washing machine of anxiety, trying to figure it out on your own, I’d like to offer you a hand. Consider this my way of pausing the tumbler, opening the door, and giving you a warm, dry towel to wrap up in.

Come sit on the ground and breathe with me if you’d like. 

Gently press your right thumb against your right nostril and take 10 big slow breaths… in and out through the left side of your nose.

Filling and emptying your belly. Expanding your breath into your side bodies and the back of your lungs, too. Like you’re filling your belly and a little backpack with air. Inflating your life raft, so to speak.

Feel your seat beneath you and let your edges soften around a tall spine.

Just taking some time to breathe and come back home.

When you feel settled, grab a journal or some paper, and write a list of everything that makes you feel good, happy, or safe. The tiniest things, too. Nothing is too small or simple or silly to make this list.

Then tape it to your fridge, desk, or bathroom mirror – somewhere you’ll see it often.

Moving Forward

The next time you find yourself tangling with your anxiety, pause and breathe through your left nostril for a bit, then go do something on your list.

Step out of the cycle. It will feel hard and scary and uncomfortable but do it anyway. Keep disrupting the old pattern.

Do this often and your cabin on Anxiety Hill eventually becomes a place you just visit sometimes – or a lot of the time. The point isn’t staying calm 24/7; it’s knowing your way home. But before you know it, you’ll look back and realize you don’t live there anymore.

One practice at a time, your body and your joy will become your Home again. 
Lauren Venable is a single mama and somatic meditation teacher living in Lafayette. You’ll hear her joke often, “Thank God I meditate for a living!” as she juggles her 2 elderly yet somehow still wild Boston Terriers, navigates the endless chatter and relentless curiosity of her Kindergartener, and brings her own meandering mind back to the task at hand (instead of the butterfly that just passed.) She’s a sucker for spontaneous adventures and is rocking a solid 70% success rate with her house plants. Her struggles with divorce, postpartum depression/anxiety, and the general overwhelm of motherhood have cracked her wide open and offered such rich soil for personal growth that she now helps other moms manage the motherload, too. You can find out more at www.balancedrootsreiki.com or follow her podcast, Homeward Bound: Meditations for Motherhood.