Last night I wrote and published a blog post about fear titled, Fear can suck my chocolate, salty balls as part of the ChicagoNow Blogapalooza challenge. The challenge was to write and post within an hour of receiving the challenge. Despite receiving what is a typical number of page views (people reading the blog), I received an atypical number of messages, tweets, emails and responses to the post, so I decided to write a follow up.
“Tell me how you deal with fear.”
“Where do I start?”
“Please write more about this topic.”
“How do you keep fear at bay? Where is the map for where to send it?”
“I really needed this today, but I need more. Can you write more about it?”
I’m plunking out a quick follow up and I promise to write more about mental health issues like managing fear and anxiety, because it seems that people really want to read more about this topic. Obviously, I can’t cover everything or answer all of your questions, but I’m going to throw out a little “let’s get this party started” ditty about managing fear and anxiety.
Fear can suck my chocolate, salty balls part II: Electric Boogaloo and brushing your toofs!
Change is a process, not an event. I didn’t wake up one day knowing how to conquer all my fears and experience 100% success in doing so. I still don’t, but more often than not, I’m in pretty good shape with regard to keeping fear and anxiety “at bay.”
I did, however, wake up one day about thirteen years ago experiencing a feeling of dread that had to be addressed, because it was debilitating. It was the first day that I did something different in response to fear. It was the first time I was successful. It was the first time I used the information and tools I had learned to cope with my feelings.
For the first time ever, it worked.
As time went by, I had more and more success in coping with anxiety and fear. I learned more ways to think and act and BE with my feelings and myself. Today, I'm sharing a few key things I started doing then, and that I do now, everyfuckingday, in order to stay grounded in the present and keep my fears in perspective and my anxiety low.
Every fucking day this alarm goes off. I feed my body and dance like nobody is watching, and nobody is, which is a bummer, because I am a very good dancer and this song is the tits, yo. But I digress.
Now let's talk about those key things I do and how they apply to YOU.
First things first. Quite simply, you must take care of your body. Stay hydrated, don’t skip meals, and eat what makes you feel good and don’t eat what doesn’t. Wear what makes you comfortable and don’t tolerate physical discomfort to if you don't have to. Be gentle with your body, treat it kindly. Make schedule for the day and keep it to the best of your ability. Prioritize sleep and exercise, even if that exercise is five minutes of stretching and dancing around to some of your favorite songs.
We can’t control much in life, but we can create a physical climate that lends itself to comfort and health, whenever possible. This is the very simple stuff, but in a complicated and fast moving life, it doesn't always seem so. This is where I can help you start learning what it takes to face and conquer your fears.
If you simply begin to prioritize the act of taking care of your body in the most basic way, as if you are an infant, tuning into what is going on at the most basic level, this task should not overwhelm you. When your body is calm and comfortable, your mind has a better chance of following suit.
How can YOU do this?
This is the challenging part. The first step to being able to attend to the simple stuff is learning to slow…the…fuck…down. Slow down and then let yourself just stop for a minute.
For example, start with your daily tooth brushing time. When you are brushing your teeth and thinking about everything but brushing your teeth, stop.
Take a deep breath and begin brushing again. Slowly. Slow…the…fuck…down…and just brush your teeth. Think about only what you are doing. Brush. Your. Teeth. Plain and simple.
Feel the foam of the toothpaste feels in your mouth, the texture of the brush on your teeth and tongue. Be right fucking there, at the sink, holding your toothbrush, brushing your goddamn teeth. Give every tooth the attention and focus. What do you feel? Just be right there, right then, doing just what you are doing and staying focused on only that. When you have brushed well and feel done, be done.
Celebrate yourself at that moment. You brushed your teeth and that’s good. It’s not like you do a better job brushing when you multi-task by using your mind to worry about other things and people. You did something for your health, for you. You completed a task that is healthy and calming. You did something that will keep you comfortable, because taking care of your body is the best way to prevent it from falling apart and making you miserable.
You done good, Grasshopper! For a short period of time, you stayed in the moment. You did it once and you will do it again.
This is where you start.
It’s called mindfulness. It’s a simple concept, but a difficult skill. I know that sounds weird, but think about it. Brushing your teeth is something you do every day (I hope) without giving it much thought. You go through the motions, right? So, stop doing that.
Two times per day, when you are brushing your teeth, practice this mindfulness technique. Be in the moment, mindful and focused on only your toofs! You brush everyday, so just start doing it a little differently. Little things make a big difference.
Don’t tell me that you can’t do this, because you can. Maybe not right now, and maybe even not a month or a year from now. Eventually, you will be able to do this and you will be able to apply this mindfulness technique in any situation. When you feel yourself spinning and stressing and worrying, you will slow the fuck down, even coming to a complete STOP sometimes, if necessary. Eventually this will come naturally. I promise.
Taking a few minutes to ground yourself can prevent you from having a full-blown panic attack/meltdown. Just fucking STOP. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, just stop. Start today. Start trying to slow the fuck down and then just stop.
Once you have stopped, take a few deep breaths, drink some water and pay attention to exactly what your body is doing and how you are feeling physically and mentally. Identify it. Be right there, right then and stay with it. Don’t go back. Don’t go forward. Be present.
As I said earlier, change is a process, not an event, but it’s the events that make up the process. So just for today –
I couldn’t resist. Not sorry.
Yes, I will write more about this and thank you for asking me to. If you subscribe to my blog, you'll know when I'm writing these "Trust me, I'm a professional" posts. Please enjoy this recipe for chocolate salty balls I found on a website called Munch, Munch, Munch!
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