If you have been following me or my past blogs, you may already know I had open heart surgery soon after graduating from college on June 1, 2015. I had an overwhelming amount of anxiety, which began to hit me soon after finding out I needed surgery in January 2015. Luckily I had my final semester of college, a part-time job, and awesome friends to keep my occupied and keep my mind off my impending fate. However, it felt as though the second I walked across the stage and grab my empty envelope (because they mail you your real diploma months after the ceremony), I was overcome by the anxious feelings.
I survived the surgery. I have gotten through recovery. I lost some friends, went through some drama, and became much closer with the people who truly care for me. It was a very difficult time in my life. That summer was awful. But now I am preparing for a new summer and I want to enjoy it. I want to spend time with my friends, go on adventures, meet new people, and fully live out an amazing summer.
Unfortunately, I have found that the feelings of anxiety have not fully left me. I no longer get anxious every day or even every month. I no longer have huge, blown out, over the top anxiety attacks. But I do still feel anxious at times. Whether it is because I am meeting a new person, or going to an unknown place. It may even just be that I am having a bad day. This sucks. Because having anxiety or depression of any kind sucks. And I know it is a very real thing that many people battle every second of everyday. It can be very difficult at times. But I urge all those who struggle to never give up and to always appreciate the good days and the good moments. Live fully in those moments when you feel okay, when you feel slightly up. Because even the smallest feeling of light within your heart is a true victory when dealing with a mental illness.
For me, I found a ray of light in yoga and meditation. It always me to take time to appreciate myself, my family and friends, the earth, this beautiful world, and to forget about the negatives. It just gives me a moment to breathe in this chaotic life we live. Yoga is truly a full body and mind practice. It is something that shouldn’t be half-assed, but fully embraced. Not only can it put your mind a ease and allow you to calm your nerves, but it is also a great work out for your body. When I begin to feel anxious, I sit up straight and begin to practice my deep yoga breaths. If it gets worse or seems to need a bit more relief that day, I will open my laptop and go to Youtube on a search for an instructional yoga video that will take my mind off of my anxiety. I also try to make it to my local gym/yoga studio and do a class at least once a week. Not only does going to a class teach you about proper form and allow you to ask questions, but it is also a social experience and you are able to connect with others who embrace the practice.
Some avoid yoga because they feel it is too hard or they are not flexible enough, but if you are suffering with anxiety I would recommend trying yoga at least once or twice. You do not need to worry about how far you can stretch or how long you can hold a pose. Yoga is a work in progress and a personal journey. It is not a race or competition. You simply need to try and embrace. If you can’t perform a pose, no worries, do an easier version or simply sit and breathe. It is more about embracing the practice and connecting with yourself and the earth spiritually than it is about doing every move exactly the right way.
If anyone has any other suggestions for dealing with anxiety or depression. Or comments about the practice of yoga, please feel free to add to the conversation. I am always open to new ideas and I would love to hear the stories of others.