I’m feeling a bit anxious lately, but it’s a mild anxiety. It’s the grumble and groan of an unhappy belly. I’m at work but I have down time and that makes me tense. It’s nibbling on my nails or cuticles or the tapping of my foot. It’s the constant hand raking through tangled hair and checking my phone every few moments, hoping for a pleasant distraction.
A few years ago the anxiety was bad. I had a lot going on at the time, and it’s better now, but I knew it was irrational when Kid3 wanted to snuggle and I nearly flipped out. It wasn’t about being busy, but being touched by his little hands was freaking me out. I wanted space and I needed distance.
Sometimes my anxiety looks like rapid breathing and headaches. A few times it has felt like chest pain and dry heaving when I just wanted to puke. I’m usually aware of the stress seeping out in a raised voice. I try to avoid yelling at the boys and I’ll say mom needs a time out and lock myself in my bedroom for a bit to stay still and focus on what sounds I hear. It helps.
Sometimes it helps to do something physical and exhausting. Sometimes it helps to very intentionally and slowly go through the motions of an activity. Piecing jigsaw puzzles is also soothing and relaxing for me. Or I’ll just write out each letter of the alphabet in capital letters and slowly. I’ll focus on the scraping of the pencil across the paper and vary the pressure I use.
My daily relaxation looks like blowing bubbles. I keep a butterfly shaped bottle of solution in my car. On my lunch breaks I pull a waterproof blanket out of the trunk and spread it out beneath a tree right outside of my job and I blow bubbles. It’s a place that is on the way to a designated smoking area, but it’s far enough that the smoke never bothers me. It’s the slow and intentional blowing but it’s also the bubbles. I like watching them float up and away. I enjoy seeing where the wind will blow them. I lay under this tree and the warmth of the sun on my face makes me smile.