Anxiety and self care

Today was my first day at a new job. Having worked from home since I became pregnant with my oldest child, it was also the first day in eight years that I have stepped into an office as an employee. (Not counting my stint as the front desk girl for a yoga studio, when I checked in students and folded towels and sprayed mats clean and wore stretchy yoga pants and tops and long, dangly earrings for fun. Let’s not count that as an office job.)

The day went well – I love my job description and my colleagues are smart and friendly – but I came home feeling anxious. Of course I did. Our brains and bodies are smart. They are evolved to be wary, especially of change, yet it is the ability to adapt to change that allows them to survive.

So how do we get from anxiety to survival and, in time, wellness?

We take good care of ourselves.

After work, we walk with our children to the park, in the sunshine. We take off our shoes and walk in the splash pool. We feel the cool stones beneath our feet, and we breathe. All the while, the kids are talking talking talking, always with the questions, ohmylord so many questions. The toddler looks directly at you, hears your “No!” and throws her new shoes into the pool anyway, giggling. And we breathe again.

We take them home and bathe them and put them to bed. Tired and irritated and with fear in our throats, but we keep breathing. We cry with our spouse, because tears are a form of stress relief. We listen to a favorite album. We call a friend. We make plans to go to yoga class tomorrow. We light candles and break out the special lotion – the one we spent too much on or is hard to find or otherwise reminds us of happiness – and rub it in and feel loved.

And we breathe.

“Our breathing is a stable solid ground that we can take refuge in. Regardless of our internal weather- our thoughts, emotions and perceptions- our breathing is always with us like a faithful friend. Whenever we feel carried away, or sunken in a deep emotion, or scattered in worries and projects, we return to our breathing to collect and anchor our mind.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh. Read the entire passage here.

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