Thursday, April 16, 2009

Check Engine Light

I have waged a lifelong battle with anxiety. It was my constant companion; so constant, in fact, that for years I didn't know that anxiety was optional. I thought it was just a part of me - a core part. Turns out, it can be optional. Over the years I've learned some tools to combat the anxiety/stress that was so ever-present. Or more precisely, I've tried to unlearn some of the unhealthy behaviors I'd adopted over the years to combat that inner-core anxiety. I took up overeating; I took up smoking; I took up yelling. And probably some other stuff as well. I'd do almost anything not to "feel" the anxiety. Including prescribed meds (btw - I'm not anti-meds - if you need them, take them).

Over the last few years I've learned some new ways to cope. First and foremost, an ounce of prevention REALLY is worth a pound of cure. Learning to say no and not taking on things that aren't mine were big steps to not making it worse. Exercise came in there somewhere and was vitally important when giving up the smokes. Couldn't have made it without the stress release that exercise provided. I also took my first meditation class about that same time. Also important in giving up the stress.

I KNOW (but often forget to practice) that I function best when I've spent some time each morning getting centered - through yoga and meditation. And if yoga and meditation sounds as foreign and scary as curried eyeball soup, then think of it as gentle stretching and some deep breaths. Nothing to be scared of, nothing to be afraid of. I do practice as a part of overall spirituality, but that's a personal choice I make. The physical aspects alone won't keep you from being a (insert whatever denomination here).

I'm trying to come to the place where I view an onset of anxiety as a check engine light. My body is trying to tell me that something is wrong, something is out-of-balance and I need to figure out what's triggering such a response. Chances are, I"ll never stop having the anxiety response, that may be a core value, but I can choose how I react to it. If I can get myself at least once a day to a present, calm and reflective state of mind and body, then I am more able to return to that state at other times of the day, during stress. I'm less likely to just "react", or in my case, overreact - and do those not-so-great-things in order to cope.

Take good care of yourself. Be kind to others. What's causing your Check Engine Light to come on?



  1. A most excellent post, my dear. I love yoga but still feel so clumsy when I try it. I keep thinking when I get some more weight off I'll be more balanced (well, physically at least, lol)

    The meditation part I would like to fit in daily. I think it would help with my engine light.

  2. Great post. I am a ball of anxiety most of the time myself. I think your right about exercise though. It always makes me feel better. I try to get straight spiritually in the AM too. I don't do it everyday, but the days I do I feel much better. That is another key to keep myself low key.

  3. ... "I didn't know that anxiety was optional. Wow... what a great statement!

    My check engine... is set off when my expectations aren't met. A big lesson in refraining from having the expectaion in the first place. Nobody cares if I don't get my way, now do they?

    I gotta get on this yoga thing or else!!

  4. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. That's how I found your blog, and I am really enjoying reading some past posts.

    I think anxiety is the flip side of depression. Both are helped by all the things you mentioned... stress management such as exercise, eating right, and listening to our minds and bodies. My "check engine light" was on all the time for many years but I ignored it... I'm just starting on my journey to love and take care of myself.

    I tried yoga a few times but felt clumsy and awkward and hated seeing myself in the mirrors. In retrospect, this was in large part probably a by-product of my distorted body image. Maybe I will go back & try yoga again.


We'll try this for a while.