Anxiety and depression are a tough thing. Before this year, I’d never experienced any bouts of depression myself. I’d dealt with my fair share of anxiety, years ago, but figured I was past it when six-years went by without a panic attack.
My name is Paige Schmidt, and I am the coach behind Healthy Hits the Spot. I coach women to eat intuitively, so they can feel great in their bodies, make peace with food, and ditch diets for good. You see, I have my own history of extreme dieting. For six-years of my life, I counted calories, over exercised, and controlled most things in my life. This caused a multitude of problems: feeling anxious, limited, restricted, and most of all – distracted.
When I first began to experience healing in my relationship with food, and how free I felt, I wanted to share what I’d learned with anyone who would hear it (I’m still this way). My goal in starting my blog was: If I can help just ONE woman by sharing what I’ve learned, it’ll be worth it.
Having peace with food and my body has given me so much space and freedom to enjoy and get in tune with so many other beautiful parts of my life.
So, as I shared, I figured that along with diets going out the window, my anxiety did too… I thought that since I’d learned to control panic attacks, and had rid myself of my main source of anxiety, I just wouldn’t have to deal with it anymore.
Until this year, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. For a while there I kept things together pretty well. It kind of felt like I had done so much self-care, that I had plenty of “capacity to deal” in my self-care savings account. I now refer to this as my “reservoir self-care-tank.”
I could just be flexible, put my normal practices aside for a bit, and direct my energy where it was required. Until that tank began to get low. I had pretty much depleted it. You see, it’s okay to redirect your energy for moments at a time, even days, a couple weeks, or maybe even a couple of months. But for a large enough chunk of time (8 months for me), eventually, your tank is going to get low without consistently adding more to it.
I had been relying, for most of this year, on my reservoir tank of feeling good. Most of my self-care had gone out the door in order to juggle all of the things I thought life was asking of me: taking care of mom, taking care of my house, running a business, maintaining a nurtured marriage, exercising, having a full fridge, cooking, etc…
So, instead of continuing to care for myself by consistency making the things that fill my soul a priority – slow mornings, long walks, coffee dates to discuss life rather than just work, journaling – I dipped into all of the good that I’d saved up, and let my normal routines fly out the window.
I began working more on the weekends. Checking email in the early mornings and evenings. I began fitting in all that I could each day, living in fear that I wouldn’t ever have enough time to get it all done. I began speeding up, and struggling to slow down.
And eventually, it depleted me.
All the emotions I was holding on the inside eventually began to show up on the outside. I found myself in the ER with chest pain, which manifested into GERD (acid reflux disease). I found myself with the return of anxiety, and I thought to myself, “my capacity is shot.”
I was left with moments of feeling discouraged, depressed, and emotional. Like I was trying to hold it together, and at the same time that any little thing could get me really low – like a cloud had just sunken into my shoulders.
It wasn’t until all of this happened though, and I ended up in the ER, that I recognized how much it was NOT working for me to put self-care, not quite on the back-burner, but to the side.
I’d do “self-care things” every once in a while (like getting my hair or nails done), but wasn’t in touch with a daily practice. So here’s what I want to share with you based on all that I’ve learned through my own experience and what’s immediately helped me to feel better (not 100%, but better)…
Self-care isn’t just a hair appointment here, and a nail appointment there.
Sure, it includes these things that make so many of us feel good, but self-care at it’s roots has to go deeper in order for you to continue to feel strong, even during life toughest moments (and ladies, life gets tough sometimes – this isn’t something wrong with your life, this just IS life).
In order for you to not go down that path of anxiety and overload… In order for you to not go down that path of depression and letting it impede on your life… Self-care is considering how you feel and responding to it.
It’s slowing yourself down so much so that your health is a top priority – not something you obsess over, but something that you make time for. It’s an act in which you’re creating awareness around what you need.
It’s asking for help, lightening your load, slowing down, and recognizing, girl, that you don’t have to do it all. You don’t even have to get this whole taking care of yourself thing down perfectly. Even just a shift in the right direction of how you’re caring for yourself will help.
Ask yourself some questions & get curious:
Are you feeling burnt out? If so, what are you doing/thinking when you feel most burnt out? What can you take off your plate? Where can you ask for help? Where can you have a boundary?
Do you feel like you need a break? What are the things/activities (or absence of) that give you a good, honest break?
Do you need to have fun? What kind of fun? Do you need soul filling fun, like a good belly-laugh and deep conversation?
Do you need to get out and go dancing with friends? Do you need to watch a funny movie and tune everything else out for a couple of hours?
What is it that you need? What will allow you to feel cared for, and fill your tank?
It’s also getting to know yourself.
For example: when do you need to check out, get some rest, and take a nap? When do you need to NOT take a nap (though you may just want to crawl in bed), but rather, get out. Sit in the sun, and run an errand or two to make you feel normal… Call a friend, etc…
Self-care is really just one life-long experiment of learning more about yourself, becoming your own best friend, getting to know your patterns, and honoring your needs.
Remember our “reservoir self-care-tank” only lasts so long. So be sure to continually care for yourself as a daily practice. Keep filling that tank, so that when life throws it’s challenges your way, you have the capacity to get through them.
And when life isn’t very challenging (you’re in a good season), let that tank overflow and celebrate. Be thankful that you have the capacity to feel so good.
You are stronger than you think. AND, you don’t have to do it all.