Anxiety and Mindful Self-Care

I have an anxiety disorder.

“I take a problem and chew on it until all the flavor’s gone. Then I stick it in my hair.” -Rebecca Wells, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

“Cast all your cares upon the Lord.”

“Instead of worrying, pray.”

I have an anxiety disorder. This means that I am extremely likely to follow neurological ruts of worry. It means that my body can respond to everyday worries with a reaction that would be more appropriate if my ice-age ancestors were being attacked by a sabertooth tiger. This is not healthy.

I work on it. I actively practice observing my thoughts and shifting them to different topics when I notice anxiety rising up. This book helps.

But one of the best things for me to do is stop and pray. Ask for help. Make a gratitude list. Check out some funny cat videos. Think happy thoughts—on purpose. Make an anxiety busting Pinterest board! And do what makes you feel cared for. For me, I love alone time with books. Or the ritual fun of crafting a new mocktail in a sparkly glass (recipes here!).

Sometimes it feels like like I’m tackling a calculus problem (actually, calculus was a lot easier for me than dealing with anxiety)… But it’s worth it. Because winning small battles against anxiety adds up to winning the war. But a little humor and prayer go a long way.

And the books and mocktails, of course.

Namaste, Darlings! 💜

“Everything Waiting to Grow”

I sat in my back yard looking and actually took the time to STOP and LOOK. What had just been a green space to step outside and take a breather from work became so much more when I let go and let myself become fully present in my garden moment.

I reflected on the changes from the cold winter, when I sat under the February Stars and watched the cold, naked tree limbs extent toward the inky blue sky. The world–my world–had transformed.

Now there are green leaves everywhere, wildflowers, grasses, soft moss. A squirrel was working in my favorite tree. A butterfly flitted by me, and a hummingbird hovered. A red robin looked for worms. Even the insects had come alive! But the winter didn’t show it.

One of my favorite songs is Catie Curtis’ “Everything Waiting to Grow,” about the beauty underneath the surface. In season, over time, after we work on it, our lives will sprout new growth.

It has been waiting, under the surface, for the spring to come.

Whatever season you are in, keep working, keep waiting. You will bloom in time.

Namaste, Darlings!💜

Self-care Isn’t Selfish

Protect your alone time.

I have a hard time with this, sometimes, because I want to be there for everyone alllllll the time. To be the friend who says YES instead of no. And when I keep a realistic view of my timetables and my boundaries intact, that’s okay. But sometimes, I get really tired.

That’s when I have to remember, repeat like a mantra: self-care isn’t selfish.

So I turn off the ringer. Enter Airplane mode. Soak up some sun, read a book, have a cup of tea, and just chill. Or put on some cute shoes. Whatever it takes!

Recharge.

Relax.

I consider it a duty—to myself, my higher power, and even my community. Because no one can pour from an empty cup. So fill it! Self care isn’t selfish, it’s critical to our own health and well-being.

On Rumination and retrospective

The Anxiety Toolkit says that anxious people are more likely than folks without anxiety to ruminate on past events and worry about future ones. Well, let’s triple that for the anxious alcoholic…

Guilty. I wonder, sometimes too much, about the what-might-have-beens. Perhaps I should take the easy way out and blame the classical cover of Adele that came up in a piano mix in listening to. But it’s honestly not that simple. And Adele bloody rocks.

For me, Rumination is the state of dwelling in the dark shadow of memory; it’s the negative side of the retrospective. Now the positives can be amazing. Beautiful memories and nostalgia, taking stock of how far we have come–these things rock. But worry, not so much. Worry can control my day if I let it. But today, I’m not going to.

Whatever may or may not have been, I’m here now. I can’t control yesterday, or tomorrow. What we can all do, though, is take the action available in this present moment, the one that will help accomplish our dreams. Even if that action is as simple as noticing the anxiety thoughts and queuing up a Netflix comedy to drown them out. It’s science—laughter really can be the best medicine.

For me, sometimes the right action is to drink a cup of coffee and relax while I read morning meditations. It’s not building the Eiffel Tower, or landing on the moon. But coffee, a smoothie in a Harry Potter glass, and sitting down to write is enough for me, right here, right now.

Namaste, darlings!

When the Vet Prescribed More Yoga for the Hooman

My computer, the one that works because of tech support and mindful breathing, has just reminded me that I need to do a yoga video. Funny thing about that: I was just going to blog about how I need to do more yoga. Okay, universe. I get it. I’ll do it after my coffee break with my friend, who is a hooman nurse.

Mentioning excellent medical care, my dog’s veterinarian, Dr. Zen-Fabulous (literally nothing fazes this woman) is awesome. I love her, her staff, and the world map of doggies in Mister Winnie’s favorite examining room. This is the only place in the whole world where my little fur-diva will allow his toenails to be clipped. She’s just the best vet ever.

So when Mister Winnie developed anxiety, he got a fancy new pheromone collar that makes him feel happy. But she also prescribed yoga. Not yoga for him, but more yoga for ME.

Now, I should mention that my dog’s vet is also my friend, and I consider her to be quite wise, (even though she consistently refuses to vote for MY favorite candidates for office…the NERVE…haha! ;). Dr. Zen-Fabulous knows I do yoga, and that it helps my anxiety.

And my dog, in all his fluffy empathetic adorableness, will apparently benefit from my doing more yoga too.

Meds AND mindfulness: a winning combo.

Namaste, Darlings!

And fellow hoomans, our fur babies have super-powers of emotional empathy—so take advantage of good advice from the vet.

🐾💜 🧘‍♀️

Maggie Yancey Happy Winnie

Think of Your Happy Place

Andrew Harrell Beach PhotographyPhoto Credit: Andrew Harrell

One of my besties sends me beach pictures most days. He lives in sunny Florida, and he knows I love the sea and sand and sun. So sometimes, if I’m stressed, I just look at the pictures, imagine the waves, and zen out. It’s like meditation for dummies, without the mala beads and the mantra. But the affect is the same: space, light, stillness. A slowing of the breath, and an easing of my soul.

So go to your happy place today, even if it’s just a mini mental vacation.

Namaste, Darlings!

Sobriety is hard– But Recovery is Soooo Much Gentler Than Oblivion

Maggie Yancey Spring Garden Flowers

Today, I noticed that I have not slit a hole in any of my contacts since getting sober. My fingernails are the same–simply manicured by ME–but my hands don’t shake, so I don’t poke the contacts accidentally. And, I clean the contacts better, exactly as my eye doctor taught me, every night. 

I floss daily, so I don’t have the nicotine and coffee stains along my gemlike that used to be so embarrassing—I thought it was because I had entered my thirties. It wasn’t that; it was the passing out after all the Malbec, because the day was too much for me to handle. 

Now, the things that used to cause huge emotional overwhelm can be handled. I may still feel anxious about them, but I have the courage and confidence to push forward. Five hours with apple support, and my computer is like new. In the past, that would have brought on a meltdown, tears, frustration, fears of the end of the world as I know it, and panic followed by days in bed.

But this time, my computer crashed. I let it go when I couldn’t fix it myself, turned it off, and went to sleep, knowing that I couldn’t do anything about it when it happened, because what I had thought would be a simple operating system update had turned into a total computer failure. It had to be erased, and rebooted from the cloud.

But thank God for the cloud, and the serenity to know that whatever came with the computer, I could handle it. And handle it I did—with the help of three brilliant and affirming women in tech support, and a lot of prayer. And okay, some coffee and nicotine.

I’m not perfect. But I’m making progress. And that’s the whole point: I can see clearly through the eyes of recovery, and not just because I’m no longer slicing my contacts in half with my nails and dropping them in the toilet by accident. Recovery allows me to access the peaceful, serene space within that says: this is okay. God’s got this. 

I breathe through it, ask for help, and tech support and my higher power save the day. Recovery makes that possible. Doing the work of recovery makes that possible.

And the flossed, bright white smile at the perfectly working computer, too, was brought by the miracles of recovery.

Namaste, Darlings!