So as some of you know, the middle of 2013 was cause for much stress in my life. It was the end of June, just before my birthday and all the stress that was building up from the year and the anxiety I tried to ignore about the upcoming summer plans got the better of me. I was full of worry about work, and I was more than anxious about going home for the summer – my first time back to the US in 8 months and the first time I was seeing most of my family again in 8 months.
For three days I was in such pain – and I couldn’t eat anything. Crackers, bananas, oatmeal, bread – all of them gave me sharp stomach pains. Long story short, three and a half months later, after an endoscopy, we found out that I had damage to my stomach lining and severe heartburn. They think the cause was a combination of stress, anxiety, and eating habits. I was put on medication for my heartburn and I have had less pain and am able to get mostly back to normal. The problem is that I am still struggling to manage my anxiety. Still – 7 months after all this started. Constantly I am filled with fear for unknown things – worry that everything will go wrong – stress of not being good enough in my job, trying to keep up with my ever changing schedule – and unnecessary fears about getting in car crashes, having a major health problem, or something, no everything, going wrong. These irrational morbid fears need to go away – they are clogging my thoughts and causing me physical pain.
I decided that something needed to change. I had to make managing my anxiety my priority – to help my health, my sanity, and my soul.
So, when Melyssa over at the Nectar Collective announced a project to help focus the year I knew I wanted to take part. What you do is create a word – or a phrase that will be the focus of the year. Melyssa’s idea was to put those words into an art form and hang in the house or office to remind you of your goal. So, I created my word art to act as a constant reminder to re-frame my mind and my way of thinking. To remind myself that I have no need to worry until there is a time for worry.
So, here’s my word art for this year:
Whenever I tend to worry I think of what my parents taught me. As a child, while in middle school I had terrible nightmares and would go to sleep full of worry and anxiety. During those times my mother and father would come into my room and pray with me. My father would buy me small angel figures and ornaments to hang around my room to remind me that God is protecting me. My parents would remind me of all the good in my life, of my safety, of all those that love me. Each night I still do these things – pray, reflect, appreciate – and my worries are put into perspective.
My mother at times even did relaxation techniques with me – and there is one I still use to this day. She would tell me to close my eyes and picture an open field full of butterflies as she gently rubbed my back. In my mind I saw tall green grass with fluttering purple butterflies and sunshine, lots of sunshine. Even now I still recall that place in my mind. Sometimes I ask Scott to gently rub my back and recall all the places we have discovered through our travels – peaceful places, calming places. For example, there is a lake in Pokhara, Nepal (as seen in the picture above) that brought me the kind of peace my soul needs. It was surrounded by the Himalayan mountains and the top of a nearby hill had a Buddhist Stupa at the top. The Adirondacks in New York is another place, as well as a fish pond we found in Thailand. When I feel my heartburn start, when I feel my head and heart filling with worry about doubt, I go to these places – the field, the lake, the mountains, the fish pond. They remind me of when I was peaceful, calm, and my soul was quieted. They remind me that I am safe, loved, and have no need to fill my body with such anxiety.
My mantra for 2014. My promise to myself to resolve my anxiety issues so I can be more thankful, more peaceful, and more relaxed. If you have ever had issues with anxiety I would love to hear how you worked to resolve these issues – leave me a comment! Right now one of the best things I’m doing is getting monthly massages – stress and anxiety aren’t good for back knots! The massage provides me with an hour of pure relaxation. So, here I am toasting to my 2014 chapter – a journey that is rid of worries and fears and full of peace and quiet . . .