Coping with anxiety – sugar-free poster girl comes undone
I have a confession: I am no sugar-free poster girl. Not for this past week at least. I hate to think of the volumes of sugar I’ve consumed this week in ice-cream and chocolate. There are several sources of blame to which I could attribute this total abandonment of will, but two truths remain: one, I am in control of my body and mind – my body and mind will not control me; and two, this sugar hangover is absolutely wretched and I want it to be over – now!
I quit sugar at the start of 2013. I’ve been going great guns with the occasional slip up here and there. But something happened recently. Not sure what exactly. I found myself in a constant state of stress or anxiety – or something. Whatever it was, it resulted in me binging on sugar like it was going out of fashion. Like an alcoholic seeks the drink, I was seeking chocolate and ice cream to make myself feel better. Turns out it was prolonging my agony and now, not only do I have my own self-depreciating habits to contend with, but I also have a re-emerged sugar addiction to kick. I guess life is trying to teach me a lesson? I am trying. And I’m going to tell you how. First, there is one thing you need to know: no matter what you’re going through right now, sugar – or any other form of addition – will not make things better. It might make you numb, but the negative feeling is only going to come back twice as strong and will be twice as hard to rectify.
Step 1 – Let yourself reach rock bottom
It’s OK to fail. I’ve had to come to terms with this a couple of times in life. And it’s OK if your life is spinning in a different direction to that which you had planned or anticipated. I’m sure it simply means the universe has plans for you that you can’t quite see just yet (that’s what I’m telling myself). In order to recognise the need for/identify/be willing to accept change and soldier on, it is sometimes necessary to experience the full extremities of “failure” – by that I mean deal with crap however you feel appropriate (within reason, of course). Me? I ran away (to the coast). I secluded myself for a while (at home). I ate crap (chocolate and ice-cream). I stopped working out. I was sick – like, literally vomiting throughout the night. My body ached all over. Soon you realise that the numbness and/or aching you feel is just a distraction from what’s really going on.
Step 2 – Identify the problem
Rarely do we ever know how to answer the question, “What’s wrong?” Sometimes we’re so good at hiding the fact there is even a problem to begin with. Even from ourselves. I recently went to see a kinesiologist after a friend recommended I see a naturopath about my Raynaud’s diagnosis, but having failed to find one in the area. She discovered through simple discussion and muscle testing that I had quite a few unresolved issues from my past – as early as my pre-school childhood days – that were causing me immense stress which were manifesting in other areas of my life. Sometimes, having someone else tell you what’s wrong is far better and faster than discovering it for yourself. So reach out if you need to.
Step 3 – Take control of your life
Grabbing Chinese on the way home from work or reaching for the Tequila bottle at the end of a tough week may initially seem like the easiest way to cope, but there are far more positive and holistically beneficial alternatives.
Meditation/yoga – take the time to make a conscious effort to focus on nothing but your breathing and your body. Yoga and meditation are great methods of relaxation and help you focus.
Keep a diary – pour out your pain and suffering on the pages of a good old-fashioned diary and be done with it. Once it’s on the page, it’s out. Gone. Let it go.
Give yourself a project – when you’re feeling down, you tend to lose all interest in anything you once found enjoyable. Distract yourself and give yourself some purpose by assigning yourself a project – something you’ve never done before. Whether that’s a weight-training program or writing a book, allocate some time at the same time every day to doing that one task. It will provide you with a certain sense of control over at least one small period of time throughout your day.
Step 4 – Just deal
It’s a day-by-day process. You don’t kick bad habits or bad thoughts overnight. But if you consciously make an effort to take control of your life by following steps such as those outlined above you may just start to feel empowered again. Empowered to say no to sugar. Empowered to work out each day. Empowered to do your job to the best of your ability. Empowered to take up the things/hobbies you love once again. Empowered to follow your dreams.
I realise this post is pretty limited in terms of hardcore advice, but it’s what I’ve been doing and I hope it’s working. I think it is. So I’ll just keep on keeping on, and if it helps you to do the same, well, then it’s all good then.