my 20s

30 mins a day keeps the anxiety away

today i am going to chat about something that has really helped me combat the typical overwhelming feelings of post grad. aaaand you’re probably going to hate me for this post because you’re not going to want to do what i tell you i’ve been doing.

been there, felt that hard.

but it’s W O R K I N G. you know me well by now. i don’t recommend unless i am 100000% behind it.

and i am so behind this!

so what am i talking about? i’ll start from the beginning.

about three weeks ago, i had what i called a anxiety attack but after researching, i don’t really know what to call it because it doesn’t align with what an anxiety attack is. so i’ll call it a “live large attack.” because i think that’s what best describes it.

it was a Sunday night. my roommate was out of town for the week and i had spent majority of the weekend alone. i spent a lot of time on social media and researching photography websites and looking at (expensive) new cameras and thinking of travel plans and it was all very exciting in a good way!

but then Sunday night, i started to feel this tightness in my chest and i felt really sick, really anxious and i don’t feel like that very often. i am honestly not really a worrier. i get overwhelmed because i just love to do so many things and do them big but never to the point where it feels scary. i am honestly just a very excitable person so it’s easy for me to get worked up about something. 🙂

i texted my sister and mom crying, feeling like i was losing it because there was really no reason for me to feel so overwhelmed. i had had a normal weekend and it wasn’t because of work so why in the world did i feel like my world was falling apart?

i got to work Monday morning and the tightness was still there. i am uncannily good at pretending nothing is going on even when i am internally falling apart. i used to be oddly proud of this. but really, i have realized that i have a tendency to feel very lonely because i would rather listen to you and your problems than talk about mine and worry you. so i just passed through the morning like i was fine.

but i still felt sick. my chest was so tight and i felt nauseas. i had no appetite. i texted my mom to call me, something i never do during the work day, and she called me from work. i sat outside and tried to hold back the tears as she felt awful being so far and not able to do anything. i also think she was genuinely freaked out because i have never call her when i am  stressed. i usually move easily from starting to feel the beginnings of stress and i switch into go mode, getting a start on things instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

then she said something that she gently reminds me, as do my close friends, when my creative juices get flowing to the point where i get overwhelmed.

she told me, gently, that i am in a unique spot. that yes, i have to work 9-5 right now because there are bills to be paid and a team i really like being a part of. but that i have the unique opportunity to grow slow, to be picky about the photos i shoot, and the trips i take. that she was proud of me for choosing to work again at Anthropologie once a week and reaching out to photographers/creatives to grab coffee or shoot together. that there is not right path and that this has always been fun for me, so try not to ruin it with the view of other girls i follow on IG that are able to do it full-time.

the golden ticket of that conversation was when she reminded me that these feelings i had of being disappointed of not being able to capture all the ideas in my head or pursue some creative arenas more full time were all placed on me…by me.

i had essentially put myself in this state of panic and overwhelmedness (aware that that’s not a word). this happens to me kind of a lot. i just get really excited about life and all the opportunities for creativity and travel and photos. i literally am sitting in bed right now in California with like 83925209 ideas for photos just around town and mentally planning 4 trips. and i wouldn’t change that part of myself for the world! but those thoughts had overwhelmed me instead of motivated me as i realized i couldn’t do all those things in a week or pay for all those trips or get the camera right that instant (although i was able to a month later!).

i have only ever felt this way once before. it was sophomore year of college and i was director of recruitment for my sorority. i had gone from an extremely busy summer, to helping with new student move-in and straight into practices every night for recruitment. i sat down in the library and felt the same state of “i don’t even know what to do next,” called my mom, walked around campus and felt better the next day.

these intense feelings of anxiety lasted for about 5 days. i just did not feel myself. as you can tell from my Instagram or here on the blog, i am a pretty happy person. i of course have days where i feel off but i am usually searching for something fun or adventurous to do when that happens. i really don’t like to sit around moping for that long. because obviously that’s not going to help me!

this episode really freaked me out and i told myself that it was up to me to be proactive in not letting that happen again. i do a couple new things like reading my devotional, setting aside time during the week for rest and eating well but the big change was committing to running most mornings.

you have probably seen on my IG stories when i say “something is better than nothing” over my tired, sweaty face after getting up at 5:45 am to run. i do not do this to lose weight or to have a bikini bod or to burn calories.

i run because i know i am a better coworker, dreamer, creator, daughter, sister and friend if i do. i feel more clear headed. i have better energy and don’t have to rely on caffeine or turn to sugar for a boost. i am not perfect at this. i’d say i am at about 5 days per week and most days i’m trudging through it.

here are the lies though that i was telling myself and you probably are too: i am not cut out for morning runs/workouts. that if i can’t run a solid 4 miles, it’s probably not worth it. that i am tired and hey, those people working out are probably entrepreneurs who can get up at 8. they have energy, i don’t. they have a personal trainer, i have the cement sidewalk outside. oh, and 30 minutes of sleep is definitely better for me. because did i mention i am tired? like really tired. also i don’t want to shower in the morning. ugh, i would never be on time for work. yeah, i am just not going to.

but those are truly lies!

here’s what i have realized since running in the am: 

  1. it’s true what everyone said: you feel amazing the rest of the day. i make healthier choices, i drink more water and less caffeine, and i feel more motivated. aka less overwhelmed and more apt to realize when my dreams need to be put into smaller, doable chunks.
  2. 30 mins of sleep does not make a difference vs. getting your body moving. movement wins every time.
  3. something is better than nothing. i started VERY small. i ran pitifully and was at first just relying on an afternoon walk after work. but then it was hard to have energy after a full day to do much of anything. BUT i was getting moving and starting somewhere. be gentle with yourself!
  4. it’s also true what those crazies said aka my mom: you’ll crave it. you’ll get used to it and you’ll want the endorphins to jump start your day. moms are always right.

the reason this post is called “30 mins a day keeps the anxiety away” is because i heard recently on a podcast that if you do 30 minutes of physical exercise 6 days of the week, it’s the equivalent to taking an anti-depression medication. i don’t suffer from anxiety or depression and would never want to sound like running could cure all, but i can see how this would help from my own personal experience. it has helped me tremendously to just feel better about myself and my progress in work, my dreams or my travel plans. i am home on vacation and still running when i wake up!

i am not going to tell you it’s easy. but what i will say is that it’s not easy for that fit girl you saw at Trader Joe’s or your coworker or your friend. everyone is busy. everyone is tired. everyone has things to do, people to see, work to do. most people our age don’t wake up ready to run. if you do, let me know what you’re doing that i’m not. 😉

the choice is whether or not you want to be proactive or reactive. those feelings of anxiety scared me. i didn’t like the person i became that week. i felt scared, paralyzed and overwhelmed. i had to be reactive to those feelings and there wasn’t much i felt i could do other than wait for it to pass.

so i am being proactive. the same way i am with the food i eat or the books i read or the friendships i have. i am making moves to make sure that i don’t have to be reactive in moments of overwhelming Sunday nights.

i am running and moving and choosing the stairs instead of the elevator and trips over clothes and small steps over giant leaps. i really hope this helps someone who needs a gentle nudge to get moving. the next time you want to treat yourself, choose a yoga class or a long walk in the park or a new fitness routine like orange theory or pure barre. choose something that will clear your head, helping you and helping others who know and love you!!!

as i trudge on with this challenge to myself, i will share little tips and realness over on my IG stories. but here’s the true bottom line: if your motivation for working out and moving is for your own mental health, it will motivate you to get your booty out of bed every. damn. time. seriously it does without freaking fail. the perfect body or the cake you ate or whatever will not motivate you every time. you’ll find an excuse — or at least i did. so get a playlist loaded and get moving — it just takes 30 minutes a day! 🙂




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