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How I navigate Anxiety with a busy schedule: 6 ways to reduce anxiety no matter how busy you are!

If you're reading this - you're probably a lot like me! You may be busy with all the things in your life and experiencing anxiety may be impacting your ability to function. Now I wanted to start off this blog post by reminding you that there are NO quick fixes for anxiety. I've seen far too many online courses and ads trying to convince you that anxiety can simply be fixed by taking a certain supplement or their expensive 'quick fix' courses. I do want to highlight there are amazing supplements to help you improve your capacity to handle stress and support your nervous system, but these won't solve the anxiety you experience overnight!


BUT - there are ways to continue healing and move forward on your journey with anxiety no matter how busy you are!


The first step is DEDICATION. Nothing changes if nothing changes. If you're experiencing anxiety, there is some work to be done and things to unpack to help you heal. It doesn't have to be multiple hours every day, it can be a few minutes throughout your day, or it may be using a certain coping skill during the day. Whatever healing looks like for you, the first step is always WANTING to heal, and understanding that healing will take time and it will take work, but it will be SO SO worth it.


Now that we have discussed a little bit more into what it takes to heal, no matter how busy you are. Lets start diving into the specifics of how you can incorporate healing into your busy life.


  1. The power of pause: If you're running at 110% all the time, that may be your first focus. There is SO much power in pause. I used to run at 100% 25/7 (yes I said 25 hours a day because I was just that busy!) and this was a HUGE contributor to my first panic attack and burnout. We MUST incorporate rest into our schedules. Not just when we 'have the time', ALL. THE. TIME. Now immediately when I mentioned rest you may have shut off and thought 'rest isn't going to help me, I feel more anxious when I rest!' and I want to add that we often feel more anxious when we rest because our brains FINALLY have a break, and this is when our dysregulated nervous system can begin to impact how we're feeling because we finally have a moment to breathe. The power of pause is all about finding moments during your day to simply be. This is often where I will pause to look out the window, or describe in detail my surroundings. Try taking 30 seconds 5 times per day and just be. Notice how you're feeling. Check in with your needs and begin to reflect on what YOU need in that moment. Rather than what everyone else needs from you. Use this skill in conjunction with the others below to begin really tuning into your emotions.

  2. Allow yourself to feel your emotions: When we're busy we often will neglect out feelings because they may get in the way of 'all that we need to get done'. I personally lived this for MANY years, I thought the only way to show up 'perfectly' all the time was to deny any difficult emotions that came into my life. After many years, I started to FACE those emotions and create space for them. The first step in feeling your emotions is recognizing how you respond to them. Are you judgemental? Angry? Or are you kind and compassionate? It is so valuable to begin with practicing self compassion and to remind ourselves that our feelings ARE valid and deserve to be felt. After we begin to practice compassion (if you'd like to learn more, check out my free resource here), we can then begin to create opportunities to express those emotions. For me sometimes its journalling, and sometimes its watching happy videos on social media that bring a lot of emotions out for me. Give yourself a time during the week to begin writing down how you're feeling and lean into those feelings. It doesn't have to be for long, and it may take time to practice but creating this space can make all the difference.

  3. Lifestyle Factors: Now I don't want to overemphasize lifestyle factors because they do have a large contribution to our wellbeing, but even when we practice our 'ideal' lifestyle it doesn't make us any less human! We still will continue to experience different emotions, but there are a few things that can help us to nurture ourselves the best way possible. The three principles that I always lean on in lifestyle are (1) movement, (2) caffeine and (3) sleep. Movement in any way, shape or form can help us dissipate a lot of the excess energy that may in our bodies when we experience anxiety. There is NO one way to move your body. Sometimes its simply taking the stairs at work, or school. Maybe its going for a walk during your lunch break. However you incorporate movement into your busy like - your body will thank you! The next focus is caffeine. Now I totally understand caffeine may be something you enjoy and is a non negotiable (it is for me!), but there ARE ways you can still enjoy caffeine without the high levels of anxiety. You could try cutting down to one cup in the morning, only drinking it when you're really fatigued, or switching to matcha or a tea blend that may be less strong! All of these alternatives can help to lower levels of stress and anxiety. The last but arguably most important factor is SLEEP. Rest is VITAL to our wellbeing, and if you're not getting a good nights sleep it may be time to check in with your night time routine and see how you can optimize your sleep. I have a whole blog post dedicated to sleep that you can read here.

  4. Asking for help: Now this point may be difficult to consider if you've always been the one who 'has it all together' like me. Even after years of practicing coping skills, I still fall into the trap of thinking I am a burden for asking for help. If this is you, please know you are ALWAYS worthy of reaching out for help, and you can share as much or as little as you'd like. I think there is often the misconception that if you ask for help you have to explain EVERYTHING before someone would help you. This often isn't the case AT ALL. You have the right to share as little or as much as you'd like. What is valuable is that you reach out for help when you need it. It may be a friend, a family member, a coworker, whoever it is. It's important to remember that you are ALWAYS worthy of asking for help or assistance.

  5. Setting boundaries: Boundaries can often feel selfish and uncomfortable, especially if we fear what others may think, but in reality boundaries are the most effective way for us to improve our mental wellbeing. When we begin acting in OUR best interest, and in ways that protect OUR peace we begin taking the next big step in healing. What can be helpful is to simply start small. Start with a boundary with saying no to an extra task, or setting a bedtime for yourself. As you implement boundaries continue to look back and see if they are working for you. If you continue to feel fatigued and anxious, it may be time to rethink those boundaries and see how you can better support yourself. Its all about trying to find a balance of what helps YOU be your best self.

  6. Grounding practices: One of my favorite techniques if I feel anxious at work or school is to have coping skills that I can use ANYWHERE I need them. Now there are a TON of different coping skills that you can use. Here is the link to an instagram post I created a while ago that really dives into the different kinds of grounding techniques. It can sometimes feel overwhelming to try to choose a few that work. MY best advice is to simply try a few out, see which stick and which may not work.


All of these practices have changed my life. Not just from a perspective of anxiety, but also from the perspective of my overall wellness. I hope these resonate with you and you can find ways to apply these to many aspects of YOUR life.


Your mental health matters more than your career, more than your productivity, more than that promotion, more than that event, more than that exam.


You matter. Your needs matter. Never forget that.


Sending love,

Carly



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