There are a bazillion and a half things you can do to heal anxiety.
Mindset practices, movement, nutrition, vagus nerve activation, meditation, letting 20 labradoodle puppies climb on you.
The list is long, and you could spend years learning to heal anxiety holistically.
(I should know, it took me years to learn what I know now. But if you’d like to speed up the process for yourself, checkout my online course, Healing Through Anxiety. It’ll teach you the most potent practices I know to rewire your nervous system for less stress and anxiety –puppies sold separately.)
But there’s just one strategy you need to start with.
And it’s so important that without it, you’re never going to heal anxiety.
What am I talking about?
Not sleep. Rest.
You can’t just go to bed at midnight, wake up at 6, hustle through your day and call it good.
If you think that’s working for you, then your brain is so cloudy from the lack of rest that you’re not seeing the situation clearly.
And you know what?
It’s making you anxious.
Sure, the type of rest you’re getting may be enough for you to do your work and drive your car (but on less than 8 hours of sleep you’re not doing either of those as well as you think you are). 1
Functioning is not the same as thriving, folx!
If you want to heal anxiety, you need rest that refills the deepest wells inside of you.
I’m talking about the type of rest that leaves you feeling as self-satisfied as a house-cat who spent the whole day on a sunny window ledge.
Sleep along isn’t going to cut it.
You want the type of rest that leaves you feeling as energized, excited, and enthusiastic when you spring back into action as that same lazy cat becomes when it sees a mouse scurrying across the kitchen floor.
And this rest is only found in settling into the moment that you are in, without resistance.
There’s rest to be found in this moment when you allow yourself to be free of to-do lists and obligations.
There’s rest to be found in turning down the volume of your mind and settling into your body.
There’s rest to be found in hanging out with nature.
Another aspect of this is allowing your activity to flow naturally, rather than trying to force it.
When you push too hard in any one direction, anxiety is going to kick in.
Because anxiety only shows up when something needs your attention.
And often that something is your need for a different type of rest.
I’m talking about the rest you get when you just allow yourself to be, as you are, whether you’re doing something or nothing in particular.
Different moments call for different activity levels.
Flowers don’t bloom all year, their energy goes in cycles.
The bloom comes up for a short while, but most of the year you don’t even see that the flower is there because all of the energy is in the roots.
Whether you realize it or not, your energy cycles too.
There’s this assumption in the modern world that you’re supposed to be in go-mode all the time, pushing with the same amount of force every day of the year.
But that’s not how it works.
You need time to build up your energy before you can spend it.
And if you try to spend energy before you have it, you’re going to feel anxious.
Want the confidence of a blooming poppy?
Then you have to let yourself nourish your roots every once in a while, resting and gathering energy beneath the surface.
You’re not meant to bloom exuberantly all year long.
Anxiety happens when you try to force yourself to bloom all the time.
To heal anxiety, you need more than just sleep.
You need to give yourself a break, too.
Instead of pushing yourself to do, allow yourself to be.
The doing will spring out of it, and it will carry you all on its own.
But only if you rest first.
So allow yourself to rest.
And watch your energy shift as you do.
Want to learn more about harnessing your energy?