I had a mild anxiety attack today. I am completely fine now and it was very mild in terms of what it entailed. It actually happened while I was lying down and resting. The past two days I have actually taken time out of my day to do this because the truth is I have been spreading myself just a bit too thin lately. On top of that, my child's new normal in terms of sleep seems to be to wake up around 4:30 or 5am and while I am an early riser myself, this has just been a bit too much.
So, the last two days I have given myself some space in the afternoon to lie down when she does. In truth, my amazing husband, while being completely loving about it, has more or less made me. He actually said back to me so many of the things that I am sure he has heard me say and write about when it comes to the importance of self-care....it was annoying and oh so necessary.
So there I was lying down, somewhere between awake and sleeping and my heart started to race, my mind began to run and I was overcome with this huge sense of fear and anxiety. It was strange because I had already been lying down for quite a bit so I couldn't figure out why all of a sudden I was having such a hard time settling myself. It wasn't until later when I was on my way to go teach that I really thought about why it occurred that way. When things finally have a chance to slow down, when we finally slow down, sometimes it leaves an opening for what is unsettled within us to arise. It actually makes so much sense to me as to why I often see so many of my students struggle when it comes to the slower, and more still part of a yoga practice. For many of us, it is actually easier to just keep going and keep moving so that we don't have to sit with what is lurking beneath the surface. And of course, this is where I say that that only means stillness and rest is exactly what is needed when this is the case, because in order for things to get out, they must first come up.
For me, I had to deal with the reality that I was feeling overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with work, overwhelmed with motherhood, overwhelmed with responsibility, overwhelmed with lack of sleep and just feeling supremely disorganized in my brain. And here is what I did:
First, I sat with my breath. I took three deep breaths and I tried to do nothing but just watch my breath. This helps me to get present with what is and out of the persistent train of thought that would take me in a million different directions if I let it.
Then I reached for my oil. Thankfully I keep my peace roller right by my bed, I rolled it on my wrists and over my heart. Then I put some in my hands and took some more deep breaths.
Then, I talked about it. My husband was thankfully in the other room and so I called him in and told him exactly what I was feeling and he listened. When I was ready we then talked about some ways that I can take action on the things that are really taking up the most space in my brain. If he hadn't of been home, I most likely would have reached over again to my bedside table and grabbed my journal. This is a go to tool for me to get what I need to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper. It makes a huge difference, so even if I am not yet ready to articulate it, I can just write and write what comes up.
A little while later, I meditated. This shifts everything for me. Through meditating I was able to see clearly that my overwhelm was a state of my unfocused brain more than anything and that I really just need to take one step and one task at a time and continue to offer myself as much care and love as possible while I am doing all that I am doing.
These are my tools and they are incredibly effective. I am a yoga teacher and practitioner and I teach about essential oils and yet I still get moments of overwhelm and anxiety. And this is exactly WHY I talk so passionately about all of these amazing tools that help navigate the ways of "Humanhood". It is important that we have tools, because we all face these emotions at one time or another. None of us are immune.
And as I was teaching tonight (another great tool for me actually), I also found myself saying to my students, "giving ourselves the space for things to come up,, no matter how hard they can be to feel, is a great act of self-love." This is how we learn to truly love ourselves and not shame ourselves for being human beings. This is the lesson of unconditional love and it will always begin and end with ourselves. I am grateful that over the years I have learned to love myself in this way. It does not mean that the anxiety doesn't happen and I don't fall out of balance from time to time, all it means is that when ultimately these things do happen, I am prepared to love myself out of it rather than shame myself or even distract myself further into it. Because the only way out is through, and I choose to move through as much of life as possible with love.
is a Mama, Wife, Teacher, Writer and Creator of One OM at a time. She has been teaching and studying yoga since 2008 and has taught at studios in Syracuse, Boston and New York City. For two years her hOMe was wherever she, her husband Justin, their daughter Audrey and pug Oscar find themselves as they traveled for Justin's job on the national tour of Matilda the Musical. This way of living has really taught Sara that yoga and mediation requires nothing more than some time and a space for your mat. You can find Sara teaching regular classes in NYC, workshops and retreats all over the country as well as in her very own online studio right here!