The biggest lesson Anxiety taught me in the past 6 months


This article was initially written for my newsletter tribe, but I received so many nice comments from them that I decided to turn it into a blog post.

I'm looking out of my window at the sun that just came out after the rain and feeling grateful, and I hope that wherever you are, whatever you're doing you're also appreciating this moment as it is.

I checked back the last time I wrote you a letter and it was back in March ! During these past few months I've been wanting to write a few times but everytime this newsletter fell lower in my list of priorities and that's fine, we do what we can and what I did was enough for that moment . But I'm happy to be back !

If I had to summarize a lesson I learned in this first half of 2019 is the one I just mentioned, that it's ok not to get at the end of your to-do list today because you have lived another day in this human body, done your best and that's all you had to do. So why not enjoy it anyways ?

This year I felt an inner shift that I've been wanting to experience in the previous years but for some reason it didn't happen before. I've always wanted life to feel more like a gentle flow and be more in my feminine energy, because the moments that felt like that were my happiest.

When life slow down I can finally breathe, awaken my senses, notice the little things, I'm able to laugh more and have more patience and connect more deeply with others and myself, and I feel radically more beautiful.

But then every year, after writing down this desire I would still add on goals for my personal and professional life, work on myself very hard to improve, and basically DO a lot of things that would fill up my days leaving no space to BE.

I didn't feel like I could be satisfied from not achieving that specific goals and I became very clingy on them, my brain becoming over active and my body rigid and in my masculine.

I pretty much never got bored in my life as there was always something going on in my over active brain. 

Even if I knew all the tools to meditate, breathe, do yoga etc... they were often other things to tick off my list and I felt very guilty during the empty spaces.

And then something happened last year that was a wake up call to actually finally implement my desire.

I became very anxious last spring while moving home 5 times in 5 months plus a lot of stress coming from my evolution in career choices and living in an intense city like Paris. My nervous system was a mess and I remember a few weeks I could barely function last summer. I would get up immediately switched on and tense and having a very hard time getting anything done and feeling guilty about it. I remember seeing a naturopath and other specialists and they all told me was that I had to review my lifestyle otherwise I would keep on going through cycles of depleting myself and burning out every couple of months. Which wasn't a fun way to live at all, I wanted to thrive not just survive.

It just wasn't sustainable anymore and so in the following months I decided to start putting myself first , no matter what. It wasn't a negotiable choice anymore but it scared me so much because it required some serious lifestyle changes and probably letting some people down in the process. 

I had to sleep better, take supplements, eat regularly and listen to my needs much and drop my habit of placing other people's needs first. I had to say NO to some opportunities, friends and events and learn to be ok with people's reactions when they were not understanding. I had to learn to be fine with replying messages after few days or weeks, seeing people less often, and achieving less by the end of the day.

It was very challenging and there was a big sense if inadequacy in not being able ( in my eyes) to do as much as other people, often asking myself "Why can't you have more energy?" "Why are you so sensitive to any kind of sollicitation all the time?" "Maybe by pushing you'll just get used to it?".... 

If I have to give an advice to someone having a friend, sibling, partner experiencing a period of anxiety is to never tell them to "calm down" , that's the worst tip you can give them because trust me, they want nothing more than to calm down. It's much more effective to aknowledge the way they feel as real and legitimate and remind them there is nothing wrong with them.

Over time my self-acceptance grew little by little and the guilt decreased.

I napped unapologetically
I rested in between work tasks to recharge
I saw a therapist specialised in anxiety and traumas that awknowledged how I felt and showed my strength through it all ( I had learned like many of you can probably relate to take everything on me in order not to bother anyone and feeling exhausted afterwards)
I started to give less importance to my external goals
I released expectations on myself to be a certain way 
I set new boundaries with people, even very close ones 
I was inspired by some people around me that actually had experienced how I felt and made me feel normal

And the side effects were quite surprising :

I got new opportunities that I had not planned about but felt RIGHT
I implemented new projects without overthinking them ( like my Women's Circles ) 
I simmered in the small daily pleasures more often ( like talking to my flatmate, lots of tiny karaoke moments and dancing in the kitchen , testing a recipe…)
I went back to my yoga practice just for pleasure and did only what my body asked, that very often was the simplest postures and slow moevements
I accepted my own rythm without making it a comparison tool
I showed up to others as a more relaxed human being
I took better care to dress up and do my makeup and it felt great 

Overall I learned to accept my sensitivy because I realised it doesn't define me. I can still be a badass doing great things in life while also requiring a whole lot of self-care for my nervous system and that doesn't make me less worthy than others.

And with that I opened the pandora vase on many other parts of me I used to hate and that I'm committed to learn to accept and eventually fall in love with.

I realised that in order to show up as my best self to the world I had to accept my own rules and not the ones that worked for other people !

So I leave you with a challenge today :

Fall in love with 5 parts of yourself you hate.

Write them down and every time you give them hate, try to infuse some acceptance into them, try to give them a voice and lots of compassion. Can you imagine loving your whole self ? How cool would that be !

Make it an ongoing practice for the rest of the year if you can, and of course you can add more things along the way, but for now start with 5 things you want to hide, that feel unlovable and give them love back. 

Alessia Gandolfo