Why does anxiety come out of the blue? Or does it?

how to deal with a panic attack

Hello my friends! After a blogging hiatus I am BACK and refreshed and ready to write. I’m working on a new post for you now and it’ll be here on Honest Mom next week after the long Memorial Day weekend!

First, though, I have a special post from my friend, Jodi Aman. I’ve known Jodi since we went to the same summer camp, and a year or so ago we unexpectedly reunited on Twitter. Jodi is a psychotherapist who helps people with all kinds of challenges, and her work with people who have anxiety and depression is how we rediscovered each other.

Jodi shows people how to shift their thinking, change unwanted situations, and stop the out-of-control downward spiral by releasing their internal self-critic. She is wise and kind, and has all sorts of excellent advice on her website and her YouTube channel.

Jodi has a great new book out called You 1, Anxiety 0: Win your life back from fear and panic to keep calm in a crazy world which I can honestly recommend. I think it’s really great — and said so in my own review of her book!

Without further ado, here’s Jodi explaining why anxiety seems to hit you out of nowhere…

Jodi Aman - You 1 Anxiety 0

Why, oh why, does anxiety come out of the blue?

You are going along just fine, and bam! Anxiety comes out of the blue.

Your heart is racing and it’s hard to breathe. You look around, pace, and search for something to stop it. “I must really be crazy!” you think. “There is no reason for me to feel this way.”

That good-for-nothing anxiety has you all up in arms. Tied in a knot. Fumbling and immobilized. Discombobulated. Turned so far upside down, you don’t even know what hit you.

I used to think I was totally losing touch with reality when this happened to me. It was out of control, having no warning like this. I blamed myself and felt like there was nothing I could do to change it. I was in a no-win situation.

Thank goodness I figured out what was going on so I could stop thinking that I was insane in the membrane! I can’t wait to tell you about it so it can soothe your heart and mind, too.

So your anxiety is not your fault, it is biological!

Anxiety is never out of the blue. There is always a trigger.

Like I said, you have to do the heavy lifting here to change this. You have to un-trigger yourself to free yourself. But knowing what is going on will give you the advantage and help you not to feel so out of control all the time!

Be gentle with yourself. This is not the easiest problem to have and you have been through the ringer. Give yourself a hug. Have confidence that people get better from anxiety all the time. And so you can too. Even if you’ve had it forever. Even if you’ve tried everything. Anxiety is curable. You’ve got this!

If you need help, I go into all of these in depth in my new book You 1, Anxiety 0: Win your life back from fear and panic to keep calm in a crazy world.

Tell me, what does it feel like to know anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue?

[Tweet “Why #anxiety seems to come out of nowhere and what to do about it! @JodiAman explains on Honest Mom”]

Jodi Aman wrote the bestseller, You 1, Anxiety 0, to help people WIN their life back from fear and panic. From the garden she started when she was 8 years old to the baby ducks she found a home when she was 10, Jodi has always been passionate about nurturing life and helping people overcome pain. Find Jodi on her website, Instagram, FacebookTwitter, and YouTube — and check out her great video on how to calm down during a panic attack:

homepage photo credit: DSC_06571 via photopin (license)

7 tips for managing depression, anxiety and stress during the holidays

Like most moms, my stress level skyrockets during the holidays. Don’t get me wrong. December can be fabulously fun. But those of us with young kids know it can also be fabulously stressful.

Shopping, cleaning, cooking, decorating, wrapping, helping with special school homework projects, planning, donating time … AHHHHHHH!!!!

No wonder we’re all feeling like we’re going to lose it.

But for me and others who manage depression and anxiety, this time of year can be even tougher. And though I have been really good over the last several months (YAY), the holidays can trigger me.

In the past I’ve had to work really hard to fight off the feelings that can creep in. I really want to looooove the holidays like so many moms do. My kids are little. They love Santa and Christmas and decorating and making cookies. They want to be around me. Near me. Cuddling with me.

I know they won’t be little for much longer. So I want to enjoy my girls, their holiday wonder, and the fact they still think I’m the BEST THING EVER and still want to be around me all the time.

Because someday I’m going to ask them to bake cookies, and I’ll get some big eye rolls as they continue to text their friends while never actually looking up at me.

I am not looking forward to that day.

Every year, I look back at my list of ideas on how to navigate this potentially tough time. And when I follow my own advice, things go well. And last year I did loooooove the holidays! Well, mostly. 😉

If you deal with depression and anxiety, or if you’re a person who always gets really stressed during this time of year, I hope my ideas help you, too. Here we go…

Honest Mom’s tips on how to (successfully) manage depression, anxiety, and stress during the holidays

1. Do just a few things well. Or maybe even just one thing. Especially during the holidays, we moms put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything and do it all perfectly. Lighten up on yourself, mama!

Don’t decorate the entire house from head to toe if it stresses you out – just focus on the living room and make that one room beautiful.

Do you really like sending out holiday cards? Or do you do it because you feel like you have to? If it’s the latter, save yourself the time and money and don’t send them this year. Aunt Edna will survive. Or she can get on Facebook like the rest of the world and see pics of your kids there.

Another idea: Now instead of baking dozens of cookies from scratch, I buy pre-made dough. My kids only care about the part where they cut out the cookies and decorate them, anyway. Less effort for me, more fun for them.

Give yourself a break and take a few shortcuts. It’ll definitely cut down on the holiday stress.

2. Skip the “obligation” parties that stress you out. You know the party that a certain mom throws every year that everyone seems to go to? The one that requires you to dress “casual chic,” bring a Yankee Swap gift, bake six dozen cookies for an exchange, and bring a bottle of wine and a homemade appetizer?

Yeah, that party. Skip it. Along with any other parties that aren’t actually fun. Parties should be FUN, remember?

3. Don’t overcommit to volunteer activities. Sign up for one extra activity. Volunteer at the food pantry. OR your kid’s classroom holiday party. OR the community Santa parade.

Remember, you are not the only person in your community who can volunteer. You do not have to carry the load. Pick one and feel good about your contribution.

4. Don’t make any big changes. Now is not the time to try a new antidepressant (unless your doctor really recommends it), paint a room in your house, or get a pixie haircut. For the love of God, woman, don’t set yourself up for disaster. Wait until a much less stressful time.

5. Get some alone time. And I’m not talking about going to the grocery store alone. Or holiday shopping for anyone (who isn’t you). I’m talking about plopping your butt in a coffee shop and reading a book for an hour.

Ask someone, anyone who is remotely trustworthy, to watch the kids – and get out of your house and away from all your obligations so you can decompress for a little while. This is good for everyone, but especially depression sufferers – it can really help to reset your mood.

6. Try to turn a sad moment into a nice memory. This one is hard, I know. But here’s my experience. A few years ago, I was feeling really down about my dad’s death and him not being around. He just loved Christmas so much. I was dissolving into tears when I noticed the bowl of walnuts I had out – and remembered how my dad loved cracking open walnuts with me when I was a kid.

So I poured myself some eggnog (his favorite), cracked open some walnuts, and listened to Christmas music for 10 minutes while my kids went sledding outside. It eased the sadness to do something that reminded me of my dad, instead of just sitting on the couch and bawling.

7. Exercise and sleep. No, I’m not kidding. I am 100% serious, mama. I know, I know, how is there time to sleep, let alone exercise? But if you are dealing with depression and/or anxiety, sleep and exercise are CRUCIAL.

It’s hard to drag my butt to yoga on a weeknight after the kids are in bed. But I really try to do it. I’m also power walking a morning or two with my neighbors. And I can tell you – it helps me feel so much better. You know, exercise, endorphins, blah, blah, blah. It’s true.

Sleep is no joke, either. Put down the laundry basket, stop wrapping gifts, and enough with cleaning the kitchen. (Or if you’re me – step away from the Internet.) Just Go To Bed. It’ll all still be there in the morning. And no one will be the worse for it if it doesn’t get done – except you.

Are you doing anything these next couple of months to ease the stress of the holidays? What ideas can you add to this list?

this post was originally published in 2012, which is why there are some pretty old comments!

9 things I wish I’d known about postpartum depression

Well, hi there! I know it’s been a little quiet here on the blog. You know how it goes: new projects at work, kids’ schedules, life, craziness, blah, blah, blah. Plus I’ve been a little unmotivated, to be honest. I even started wondering if it was time for me to quit blogging, and though I decided I wouldn’t, I still haven’t had the drive to blog late at night or early in the morning.

But then I got a phone call. I was away on vacation with no internet service. When I landed in Boston, I dreaded checking my email and voicemails, but one message caught my attention: My friend Brenna from Suburban Snapshots, telling me that the Today Show’s website was looking for me.

Huh?

So I checked my email and quickly got in touch with the editor who was trying to find me (shout-out to another awesome friend, Suzanne from Toulouse & Tonic, who told the editor I was on vacation and to please wait until I got back!). The editor wanted me to write a post about PPD, since it was a relevant topic with Hayden Panettiere checking herself into a clinic for PPD treatment. One thing led to another and now…

I have an article on Today.com! It’s called 9 things I wish I’d known about postpartum depression and I hope you’ll go read it.

If you want to show your support, you can comment on the Today Show’s Facebook page and/or Today Parents’ Facebook page. (As you may know, the more people who comment/like, the more people will see the post. And given this topic, the more women who see it, the better.)

Being on Today.com is kind of a big deal for me, professionally. Being paid to write for a major website is awesome resume fodder, and hopefully I will get to write more for Today. But what’s really exciting is that the Today Show is an incredible forum to reach more moms who may be suffering in silence. That’s the whole reason I started Honest Mom: to help moms dealing with depression and anxiety know that they are not alone and they do not need to be ashamed. And that’s why, even if I take a blogging break here and there, I’ll keep writing here on Honest Mom. I’m re-energized now and ready to rock!

I have 40-50 Honest Moms Speak Out essays waiting in the wings, and I’m looking forward to bringing a new one to you each week. So many women want to tell their stories, and now I just need to publish them! I’ll keep blogging about parenting and mental health and bringing you good stuff on Facebook and Twitter — so I hope you’ll keep following along and sharing the posts that you like. The more women we reach, the more we’ll chip away at the ridiculous stigma attached to mental health.

Have a wonderful week!
JD, aka Honest Mom

 

photo credit: “Mother and Son” via photopin (license)