What Anxiety Feels Like Plus Guided Meditation (10 minutes) (video + resource links)

In today’s video (below), I said I’d link to a handful of resources that have been exceptionally helpful to me in learning how to work with anxiety in my everyday life.

Resources that helped me with anxiety

The first is a book that’s sold more than 1 million copies and is its sixth edition. It’s the Anxiety & Phobia Workbook, which I read some time around 2009 when I was finally coming to grips with the fact that my anxiety needed real, constant resources. It has medical advice as well as cognitive exercises that help bring reality, facts and tangibility to ongoing anxiety-provoking issues. Highly recommend it.

The second resource I want to share is a tremendous video on vulnerability. I think a lot of my struggles in the early years of my diagnosis revolved around this sense of not wanting to be labeled or seen as weak or unfit. These are all pain points that zero back (for me) to the topic of vulnerability. Brené Brown is the bomb.

The medical community has also been a huge part of my “tribe” of resources for working with my anxiety. I have had experience with counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists alike. They have been a constant source of advocacy in my life and wonderful sounding boards as well. If you have ever wondered about how to find a good therapist, feel free to reach out on this blog or in the video comments. In conjunction with these books and medical professionals, I’m also daily supported by an anti-depressant. It took several years to find the right medication, which was admittedly, very, very frustrating at times. It takes so much courage just to ask for help — and then to find the right help is another task that can seem pretty unfair. I think that medication is a wonderful option for anyone and there’s no shame in staying on it for any length of time.

My throat gets tight, my heart races, my mind plays scenarios over and over again.

Fifteen years ago I finally started to get help for my anxiety, and today I share about what anxiety feels like and one of the many resources that has done so much to help me relate more peacefully to anxiety.

Video Transcript

Hi everybody. Today I want to offer you a 10-minute guided meditation but first I want to talk to you a little bit about anxiety. The title of this video is "What Anxiety Feels Like," and I felt like this might be something that could help people who aren't sure what they're experiencing. So I wanted to offer my personal experience with having generalized anxiety disorder and what it looks like to me. Basically, for me, anxiety can look like swirling thoughts, obsessive thoughts, this seeming inability to let go of something that I'm really concerned about.

I remember when I was in my 20s, I worked at a law firm and it was pretty high stress and I would lie in bed at night and I would think through all of the conversations I had to have the next day with some of the partners. And I would do that on repeat, over and over again. And that's one way that anxiety sort of "grips" me. There are other times when anxiety is more like a really quiet onset of like physical experiences. Like I don't have big thoughts in my mind but all of a sudden my throat gets really lumpy or my heart just starts racing and I'm not quite sure where it's coming from. Can't quite pin point it. Sometimes anxiety comes on for many people without a logical reason. Sometimes lying in your bed at night worrying about hard conversations, that seems fairly logical that you might feel a little anxious.

And so that was my daily life .. growing up as a kid I was always very anxious and it wasn't until probably about 15 years ago that I started to really seek out help for it and resources. So I think one other thing I wanted to mention ... I have a couple notes here. I hope you don't mind I'm gonna look at them a couple times probably. I think that there's a lot of messages that we're sent about what anxiety is and what it isn't and sometimes just in general around mental health. One of the things that I had to deal with coming from a pretty rigid religious background -- I had to come to the realization that anxiety wasn't a punishment for some sort of deficiency in my spiritual existence. That I was not being punished. My body is just reacting to things in a different way and over the last 15 years (I sound so old!), I came to realize that my anxiety is part of a packaged deal of how I operate in the world. I feel very deeply, I observe lots of things and I take in all of these data points and my body processes them differently than other people. And that manifests a lot as anxiety and learning to accept that and not fight it ... I feel like for a long time I had to fight the feeling of anxiety or be really aggressive and tell myself, "You need to stop thinking..." or "You need to stop doing these things." Actually, anxiety really needs gentleness. And if you give it space to work itself out, if you give your body permission to work through what it's going through, it's actually a much better sort of way to live.

So in this video, I wanted to offer one of the resources that has helped me. About halfway through my journey I discovered meditation and became a certified meditation instructor a few years ago. And I have found meditation to be a way of working with myself, working with my life, in a more gentle way. I'm not interested in and I'm not seeking out ways to get a quick fix. I think anybody who offers a quick fix is just selling something for a dollar. And so that's what I want to explore today. I'm gonna link to a blog at the bottom of this video that has a couple other resources that were hugely impactful for me in the last 10, 15, years. Some of them are books. I talk about how medication has been part of my journey. Books have been part of my journey. Meditation has been a huge part of it as well. And so today, I'm sitting at my desk today because meditation can be done from anywhere -- from a cushion on the floor or a desk like this, a chair like this. So, I want to offer 10 minutes of guided meditation. If you've never meditated before, it's no problem. There's no experience necessary. You don't even need a dog tail wagging in the background. But I hope we can sit together for this 10-minute guided meditation and if you have any questions about meditation or managing anxiety, feel free to drop something in the comments below. All right babies ... all right sweeties ... let's go night night ... let's lay down. We're gonna do our meditation now. OK? Come here ... alright. lay down ... there we go. Thanks for your patience, guys.