It’s been awhile since I checked in on here and wrote a long-form post, so I wanted to catch you all up on what life has been like for me lately. Anxiety hit me hard these last couple of months, as I’m sure it did for many of you too and I knew that I needed to make some major changes to help get me back into a better headspace. I was losing sleep and feeling extremely irritable and exhausted every day. I started to lose motivation to create content and share with all of you. More often than not my thoughts left me feeling sad and worried. My energy was depleted.
It’s difficult to understand anxiety if you haven’t personally experienced it before. I think it started happening to me more when I moved to NYC on my own and felt the burden of everything falling solely on my shoulders. Last summer is when it hit me the worst. I actually wrote a post about 5 things that helped me back then, which you can read here. Truthfully though what helped me the most was my solo trip to Amsterdam and Belgium. Since I’m not in a position to travel this time I knew that I needed to find better ways to manage my anxiety.
This year has been a whirlwind and the pandemic has affected us all. Being alone for so long, not working, struggling financially and losing my grandpa heightened my emotions a TON. I allowed an influx of thoughts to run rapidly through my mind, worrying about every possible scenario that could happen to me. I don’t know exactly when I had that mental shift, but last month I decided to take back control. I am feeling better than I have in a very long time and wanted to share some of the things that I have been doing. My hope is that if you are also struggling with anxiety, that some or all of these things can help you too.
Let me preface this by saying that I have never been a runner. I did run a 5K back in 2010 for colon cancer to support my father, but that is the extent of my relationship with running. One of my close guy friends just moved into my neighborhood (two blocks away) and he’s been running for years. I started chatting with him about getting into it and that’s honestly what sparked my initial motivation for it.
Last month I was staying at my mom’s for the weekend and decided to go for my first run in years. It was definitely a struggle. I could barely run a mile without having to stop a bunch of times and walk in-between. I noticed the things that I was saying to myself like, “I’m so tired. I have to stop.” or “My body hurts. I can’t do this.” Those were not exactly words of encouragement for myself.
I let about 2 weeks go by before my next run and that’s when I ran with my friend for the first time. I fed off his energy and felt this new sense of motivation. Ever since then I have been running a couple of times a week and have built up my endurance, improved my pace and hit my first personal goal of 3 miles. I still have a long way to go, but I have already come so far in such a short amount of time. Consistency does that for you.
I’ve changed the way that I speak to myself by saying things like, “You got this. Don’t stop.” and “Take a break if you need it, but then get right back to it.” or “You can do it.” The way that we speak to ourselves is SO important. Our minds believe whatever we tell it and that’s when I realized that running is actually more mental than it is physical. It has helped with my anxiety so much because it’s such a release from everything that is happening in my life. I am sleeping so much better and waking up earlier. I look forward to running every week and I just have to keep up this momentum. I’ve been sharing my journey on IG stories and am so appreciative for all the encouragement and support. You have no idea how much it means to me!
WORKING OUT EVERY MORNING
The way that we wake up and start our morning truly sets the tone for the rest of the day. I did not have the best morning routine before. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that I wasn’t working and it became so easy to get caught up in unhealthy habits.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working out every morning (just 15-20 minutes) to get my body moving. I can’t even express how much it has helped. I’ll wake up and do the typical morning things (make bed, brush teeth, have coffee, etc.) and then exercise. I’ll either do a HIIT full body workout or something that’s less intense. Yoga could be a great option too if you’re looking for something calmer.
Doing it in the mornings has been much more effective for me than doing it later in the day. It’s become my new routine that I now get excited for. Even though it’s a quick workout, it’s enough to give me the movement that I need and it gives me that little mental escape every morning. Instead of waking up and having all of these anxious thoughts, I now have such a positive shift in my energy that carries out into the rest of my day.
CUTTING OUT ALCOHOL
I drank a little too much wine at home during quarantine those first three months. I’m sure that a lot of us did, but I got to a point where I realized that this wasn’t healthy for me. It would interrupt my sleep, cause me to wake up feeling sluggish and overall I knew that I wasn’t being my best self. My last drink was on July 14th so it’s only been 3 weeks so far, but I definitely want to cut it out completely for awhile. Once I start drinking again, I only want to do it when I’m out with friends/family. I’m not saying that I won’t ever get wine for my apartment, but moving forward I will make sure that I have a better balance and don’t overdo it. I actually haven’t craved a drink at all during this time and I notice a difference within myself for the better.AFFIRMATIONS
I’ve said daily affirmations before, but I never stayed consistent. In order to hold myself accountable I’ve written them down on post-its and spread them around my apartment so that I remember to say them everyday. Apparently 21 days is the sweet spot because at that point you’re saying them daily and you start to believe and visualize what you are telling yourself. I’m such a firm believer that the energy we put out is what we are attracting back into our lives and I am trying to be much more mindful of this.
Whenever I get an anxious thought, I say, “No. I don’t want that energy.” and I release the thought. It’s so much easier said than done, but the more you do this the more effective it becomes. One negative thought turns into another and then before you know it you’re caught in a downward spiral that can be difficult to come out of.
PROTECTING MY ENERGY
This has meant so many different things for me. It’s taking time away from social media and breaks from watching the news, creating boundaries and taking a step back from people when needed. It’s also remembering to put myself first, prioritizing self-care, learning how to say “no” and not feeling guilty about it.
This has always been the most challenging for me because I’m such an empath. I feel everything so deeply and because of this I take on other people’s energy, which often leaves me feeling drained and anxious. This year in particular there has been so much happening all at once and I definitely carried all of it with me. I came across these 5 words that are very powerful, “Care, but do not carry.” It’s something that I am constantly learning to do!
I’ve had a lot of conversations about anxiety over in my Instagram DMs so if you ever need to chat, please feel free to send me a message. I’m no expert, but I definitely love sharing the things that work for me especially when I start seeing progress. Let me know if any of these things help you! What are you doing to better manage your anxiety?
I also wanted to give a quick update that a homepage refresh is coming soon to Naty Michele! Over the last couple of weeks I have been working on a redesign with Chloé Digital. I’m not in a position to do the entire site right now, but felt that it was time to revamp at least the homepage. I haven’t made any design changes in years, so this is long overdue. I wanted to better streamline my content and highlight some of the topics that I’ve written about more frequently, like solo travels, life chats and self-improvement. I feel like this is the direction that I have been taking with my blog. Can’t wait to share!