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!

How to go from feeling overwhelmed to feeling accomplished

 

The other day I finally I figured out the source of much of my stress. It’s something so simple that you might roll your eyes at me when I tell you what it is. But it dawned on me while I was loading the dishwasher.

I was staring at the sink, annoyed that I couldn’t fit that one last cup and bowl into the dishwasher. If I could fit those in, and if I could find ten more minutes to get those pots cleaned, and if I could manage to wipe down the sink, I’d be done. Finished. Something would actually be accomplished around here.

But I had run out of time and space. So my task was unfinished. And I felt unaccomplished because I couldn’t check it off my list.

This small thing annoyed me and frustrated me more than it should have. Why? Why was this small, silly thing so bothersome to me?

I leaned against the sink, sucking down my iced coffee, looking at the dishes, and holding my list of to-dos in my other hand.

And then BOOM. It hit me.

My to-do list was sabotaging me. It was making me feel stressed out and like a big failure. And there was an easy fix I could implement right away.

How to go from overwhelmed to accomplished: Using lists the right way

But let me back up. I do have a system and it does (usually) work really well.

Truthfully, I have several to-do lists. I used to have one, huge, loooooong list that was immensely stressful to look at. I kept it on the computer in my iCloud notes so it would sync across my laptop, phone, and iPad. The syncing was nice, but the list was scary and stressful.

So I changed my system. I went back to using my trusty notebook and I broke my to-do list into several master lists: Home, Kids, Work, Blog, Personal. One on each page of the notebook.

On Sunday night of each week (ideally) I make a single, less overwhelming list of to-dos for the week. I’ve found this to be WAY less stressful for me, and keeps me out of my habit of endlessly going over each of the lists, wondering what I’m forgetting. If it’s not on the week’s list of to-dos, I’m not thinking about it. Done and done.

However.

I’ve been doing two major things wrong:

1) I add things to my master lists that are, by nature, things that will never, ever, ever be done. Like doing laundry. Washing dishes. Yard maintenance. House cleaning. Putting away laundry. (And am I the only one who has baskets of clean laundry that sit around the house for weeks on end?)

2) I add things that are enormous projects that will never get done in one sitting. Like sorting through a year’s worth of school papers. Creating my media kit. Culling through and printing all our pictures from our 2013 Disney trip.

So what am I doing about it?

Making more lists, of course.

I have two new master lists: “Ongoing” and “Bigger Projects.”

And I’m being more realistic about what should go on those lists. For example, I wrote a blog post for another website and it took several sittings to finish it. I knew it would. So that post should have gone on the “bigger projects” list, because it wasn’t something I could get done in one day. Instead, it sat on my weekly list for several weeks in a row, stressing me out.

The Ongoing list? It’s got the tasks that need to eventually be attended to but will never be totally done: Laundry. Dishes. Yard work. House cleaning. It’s there just to remind me that those things exist. Maybe most people don’t need that reminder, but I do because my brain works like this.

If I really think I can accomplish a certain task related to one of those two new categories, I put it on my weekly list. Like “trim bush next to front door.” That’s a doable task. “Do yard work” isn’t.

So that’s how I’ve dialed down my stress and created a sense of control in my very out-of-control life.

What do you think? Are you a list maker? Do you like the idea of master lists and a weekly list? Would this kind of system work for you?

Note: This is a revised, previously-published post, so that’s why some comments are from a while ago.  🙂

photo credit: Hammonton Photography via photopin cc