A Recipe for Tackling Anxiety

Oh Spring, you crazy bitch. We’re barely a week into your tumultuous frenzy and already I feel like I’m losing my mind. Of course it doesn’t help that my book is in the hands of beta readers (mostly strangers!), and the reality of purging, packing and moving a household of six people is looming. Am I unsettled? Yes. Anxious? Oh gods yes. Am I drowning in a sea of unknowns? Uh-huh. So what can I do to make sure the next few months aren’t a living hell for everyone near and dear to me? Here’s my recipe for tackling anxiety.

Structure. Lots and lots of it. Just before the end of my work day, I write up a schedule for the next day, complete with a time slot for each item on the to-do list. This isn’t rigid, but if I don’t do it, I lose myself to the Interwebs as I try to quiet my swirling brain. Then I get eff-all done, and feelings of worthlessness start to creep in. I’m not type A, honestly. I’m a B plus at most.

Vitamins/Nutrition. This crazy-making time of uncertainty and change can lead me down that path to the badlands of my mind. One of the easiest ways to combat that spiral is by taking care of what I put in my body, and remembering my supplements. Eating an LCHF (low carb, high fat) diet, helps me feel better, sleep better and perform better. I fight the urge to just let it slip, and try to be mindful because I know how easy it is to start feeling lousy.

Substance Avoidance. One glass of wine or a small cocktail in the evening, sure, but not every night and no evenings out to party. Right now I’m looking at a worrisome time that spans several months, so it’s likely that I will imbibe a bit. I hope it is anyway, because sometimes it’s fun to go out for a few drinks, listen to music, enjoy good food. In these kinds of times, however, I try to take it easy. Nothing triggers those shitty feelings like making my liver have to work too hard or messing up my brain chemistry.

Self-Care. This one is super important, hence the title. When I feel like I’ve lost control of life (yes, I DO realize I never really had it to begin with, but I sure like to pretend.) my instinct is to clean house, work like a maniac and just do things that make me feel like I’m getting something, anything accomplished. Even now, I have an hour to kill and I’m technically working. At the end of each work day, I’m going to try to relax. I say ‘try’ because I’m frankly not very good at this. But I’ll splash about for an hour or so in the tub and just try to enjoy what it means to piss off from responsibility. I need to make a point to do this a little bit each day. Something that’s just for fun.

Gratitude. You know how your problems feel enormous until you pop over to the BBC site? Then you’re like “Holy shit, who cares if I have to pack up my whole house over the next few months?” The world is full of people moving through hell. Does that change how much our circumstances affect us? Briefly, and for fleeting moments. If I can take time each day to think of all the things that are going right (my book is in the hands of my final round of betas! I get to organize and purge and start fresh in a new home! I can afford to find a new home!) it really truly helps me to keep things in perspective. Especially when I’m taking care in all the other ways I’ve mentioned. I don’t say this to be a self-righteous or preachy twat. I’m just telling you what works for me. I assume you care, because you’ve read this far.

Sleep. The need for adequate sleep is no joke, and science can back me up here. I slept like a boss last night. I even had a dream that I was the newest member of the X-Men team. I woke up feeling like I could take on the universe, and it’s totally worth going to bed at 9:30 to recreate this approach to Monday mornings. I’m even reading real, live books to fall asleep.

What are your go-to methods of dealing with anxiety and uncertainty? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.



Exercises to Relieve Stress

This post is a guest post from our dynamo fitness expert Oonagh Duncan. and she’s bringing us some exercises to relieve stress, and talking about the many benefits of exercise when we’re stressed out. There’s a video link at the end, but be patient because the audio is rough until about half way through.

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Avoiding Cranky


The Noodle rocks a beet and kale shake moustache.

On Thursday I was a cranky, stressed-out grumpy pants, feeling frustrated with our lack of routine and our inability to make a schedule, even though we’d moved only less than a week ago. Sometimes I’m pretty unreasonable. I was short, weepy, and so wound up that I had to check the calendar to see if PMS was the cause. It was not.

In a moment where I perched on the edge of losing my temper, I suddenly changed direction and sent myself upstairs for a nap with the Noodle. That blissful hour of quiet, free from childcare responsibility and the chaos of setting up a home was heavenly, and I realized how essential it is to take time out.

These last couple of months I’ve been spoiled. My mom has been making the drive to Toronto once a week to spend the day with the Noodle while I get some work done and she would often sleep over and give me another half day of support. First my focus was on tax preparation, then on moving, but it was wonderful to just be able to switch off and know that baby was in good hands. I’d like to continue this awesome tradition and focus now on my writing, and homeschool prep because there just isn’t time in this busy house unless I carve it out. We now live much closer to mom, but I’m housebound, so I wonder how best to make this work? Maybe I could have a very early start with Mama S once a week where she drops me off in Hamilton for the day? Perhaps there is transit available to Hamilton? Maybe Daddy can zip me there? Man, I need a driver’s license, now more than ever!

My point is, everyone needs time alone to pursue their own interests or their burn out factor will be high. I need to know that there is space for me during each busy week to do whatever I like, and I don’t mean laundry, cooking, meal planning or chores. This isn’t selfish, or indulgent. It’s practical self-care and it makes me better in all of my roles.

When is the last time you took even an hour for yourself to just do something entirely for your own pleasure? Make it happen, even once a week, and tell your partners you need their support. Alone time is essential for recharging your batteries, and you’ll feel so much more capable. What are your favorite ways to spend your time alone?

Swiping at the Firmament

Photo by Ryan Visima

Photo by Ryan Visima

Today was a very, very challenging day at work. I tried to hold tightly to the high from last night’s successful show, but with the collective stress of my office-mates as we banded together to trouble-shoot, it was more than challenging. I want so badly for this to turn out well, because so many people have worked so hard. I’m blowing on the dandelion fluff of prayer right now…

Arthur left tonight, which I’m usually ok with, but this time it feels a bit heavy. Despite a snoring Toulouse, my apartment feels really empty without him. I’m trying to sit with my loneliness, and sadness, and stress. It’s easy to crave a distraction from these things, but I’ve learned the value of being comfortable with these less than stellar feelings. I’m still not great at this, but it gets better each time I feel this way.

I had ambitions of putting my house back together after a whirlwind week, but all I could manage was a sweep of the floor. It still looks like a panty factory blew up. A panty factory full of colourful chickens, and stockings. I will compromise with myself by putting fresh linens on the bed, washing the dishes before I sleep, and quickly cleaning the bathroom in the morning. I’ve also discovered the glory of the wash and fold laundry service around the corner. It sounds decadent, I know, but in a moment of desperation, I filled a large garbage bag with the rubble of Mt. Laundry and hauled it over. It cost $2 more than usual to have the lovely couple who own the joint do it for me. And it was done by the time I got home from work.

Today, a beautiful new friend responded to a Facebook message I sent, telling her that “the sky was falling”. She said, “Good luck catching it.”

I was struck by this.

The idea of the sky falling immediately makes me feel like I should be doing something to hold it up, which in turn feels impossible. Catching pieces of sky seems like a less monumental task; like catching snowflakes, or raindrops. Do what you can. Collect bits and understand that they will melt, or evapourate because the sky is nothing we can control, or contain, or even begin to hold on to. Before you kick in to Henny-Penny overdrive, remember this. Sometimes when the sky falls, its a reminder that we never should have assumed it was going to stay overhead in the first place.

And sometimes, to lift our hearts and remind us that everything is cyclical, we get a rainbow. Or two.

(and all household chores are waiting until the morning. who am i trying to kid?)