I will be the first person to admit that I am not tech savvy. I call myself a caveman with an iPhone all the time. Like everyone, I’m kind of hooked on my blinking rectangle. Between Facebook and texts, I’m inundated with reading crap. One day, I actually realized it makes my anxiety worse. I have this need to respond to texts right away, or I feel rude. I hate being so accessible, but we kind of all are. I look at everything in life as a tool or a weapon, depending on how it is used. When it comes to my phone and technology in general, I decided I had to overhaul myself.
It’s incredible the access we have to information and knowledge. It also opens the door to me meticulously analyzing myself, Dr. Googling and diagnosing myself, and distracting myself from my emotions. It’s much easier to put everything in a bucket of anxiety versus looking underneath to see why I am anxious. Instead of distracting myself with social media, I’ve turned to communities like this one to help me better understand myself and mental health, as well as finding better coping skills. I have been using Facebook to share my experiences with Yoga and meditation, and get new ideas from my friends.
YouTube has given me access to Yogis from around the world, which allows me to try so many different routines. It also has given me healing music, and I would have poo poo’d this not that long ago, but I swear these healing tones/anxiety relief/chakra healing, etc. have helped me in every way. I realized one day that I tend to stay in the same songs on Spotify or Pandora – ones that mimic my emotions. If I’m happy, that’s great and let the Katy Perry blast, but more often than not, I’m moody and listening to depressing music. Or, I’m blasting some amazing metal and thrashing my head. None of this is bad, but when you are struggling with emotions or anxiety, I find that I usually make myself worse. The healing tones have helped me free up my mind, because there are no lyrics for me to focus on, so I find my brain gets quieter and calmer by simply not being focused on anything in particular.
Mindfulness and meditation as a practice and habit, allow me to come out of my busy beehive of a brain more. Even when I am not meditating, I am finding myself better able to select the thoughts I think. I finally learned that, while my brain might be chattering away at everything and anything, I don’t have to follow it. Ironically, a video on YouTube for my kids – Zen Den by Cosmic Kids – gave me the most simple, beautiful illustration. Thoughts are bubbles, and you can simply let them float by or pop them. This has helped me manage anxiety and even depression remarkably well.
I’ve also downloaded so many different apps on my phone to help me. There’s a meditation suite you can get on all smart phones – it’s fantastic. I think it’s $15, and there are so many different options. Walking meditations are one of my favorite – you can pop your earbuds in, and walk for 15, 16, or 18 minutes, while you are guided through being present in nature. There is another for deep relaxation, and this was how I started meditation. I would almost never make it to the end, because I would find myself so peaceful and relaxed, I would pass out. There is also 7cups, which is a fantastic resource of mindfulness routines, as well as a support function – with different groups for your needs. Lastly, if you have an iPhone, you can download iTunes University. If you search for mindfulness, you will find MARC – which does mindfulness for 30 minutes every Thursday and posts a recording. They are phenomenal, and there are so many – they have been doing it for years!
Spotify itself has a wealth of awesome music and guided meditations – you can just search. If you search for Zen music, there are great nature tracks that absolutely help me stay in the moment and breathe. For my sons (both have ADHD), there is a playlist on Spotify called “Deep Focus” and it helps them get homework done so much faster. There are also different Kundalini tracks that can help with mantra recitation and focus. I have built myself several playlists specifically for relaxing, sleeping, or meditation. I love meditating to Pink Floyd, because I am super cool. haha.
My newest addition to my wellness journey is a FitBit. I am not focused, really, on any sort of weight loss. I have struggled with eating disorders my entire life, so I focus completely on accepting and loving myself “as-is”. I try to avoid scales at all costs. I’ve found with every diet or exercise I did before, if I didn’t “see results” I would lose interest, so everything – yoga, eating healthier, etc. is done solely with the focus of being healthy and happy. This is 101 obvious, but I’m telling you, I have to re-iterate it to myself constantly. Anyway, I got the Fitbit to help me with awareness. Part of Yoga is connecting with your body, and now that I’m firmly back in my own skin, I started feeling my heart start racing, or when I’d get sweaty, or other early signs of anxiety. My Fitbit is helping me be aware of my heart rate with visual confirmation of how I feel. The Fitbit also reminds me to get up and move every hour. It feels weird to think I need a watch to tell me to move, but it is so easy to sit for hours without thinking about it. The last and coolest thing about my Fitbit is it is reminding me to breathe consciously. If my heart rate starts going up, my Fitbit buzzes and tells me to breathe. It’s a little friend to help me manage my anxiety better. My psychologist was really excited about this and said she’s going to tell her patients; she never thought of a Fitbit for mental health. (look at this caveman being all savvy) There are also apps you can download on your phone, to set breathing alarms with exercises. It’s amazing what regular conscious breathing can do.
When I began suffering panic attacks, they would be full blown attacks before I’d realize there was a problem. Thanks to everything I’ve described, I’m manage at the first sign of anxiety. This time last month, I was having panic attacks almost constantly. I had to take Ativan about twice a day to help myself, which I hate doing. I’m terrified of benzo’s, because I struggle with addiction as it is. I finally realized that I had to get back to caring for my body, mind, and spirit if I was going to manage. Since I came back to regular routines of Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness, and all of the amazing technology we have to help me versus distract me (I’m lying, I still watch too many cooking videos…), I haven’t needed the Ativan, and I’ve been smiling a hell of a lot more. Hope this gives you a couple ideas or inspirations to help!
Yoga on YouTube:
This gave me a lot of happiness and energy – fantastic way to start the morning
This had me sweating and happy this morning
This focuses more on breathing and meditation – huge help for anxiety
Great for sleep & relaxation!
Love this for background during the day, very soothing
Lastly – Conscious Breathing:
The 4-7-8 breath is a TREMENDOUS help!!!!
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