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Hello everyone! Today I am writing about something near and dear to my heart and a recent theme popping up in my life lately: how precious life is. Some of you may know that four years ago I lost a very dear friend and soulmate. His passing planted a very deep desire to live my life to the fullest every single day, something that has gotten increasingly hard between Crohn’s and the coronavirus.
In the last few years, this urge grew beyond a reasonable driving force to create my dream life. I noticed it when I started thinking in absolutes and suddenly everything I wanted in life needed to be achieved immediately and when it didn’t, I felt really guilty and angry at myself. I didn’t really understand why and I didn’t notice for a long time. It crept up on me. I became panicked when things like traveling weren’t possible and hearing about my Crohn’s diagnosis sparked a panic attack because I thought I was condemned to live a very sad and unfulfilling life and couldn’t live for Sam anymore.
A part of my healing and grieving process has been learning to separate living for passed loved ones and living for myself in their memory. While I think having a sense of urgency in life can be very beneficial and make sure life is fulfilling, it’s also important to watch grass grow and reflect on progress. Just because you’re in a slow or seemingly restrictive part of life, doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing life moments to be had! Moving in with my parents has allowed me to heal, spend time with them, be close to the horses I grew up with, ride, be outside (my parents live in a beautiful rural area), and invest more time into myself and building a dream career.
If you’re grieving, I see you and you’re not alone. If you feel anxiety about life, the best thing you can do is not let it stop you from doing things at all. Anxiety and grief can be so crippling, but the best choice I made was to break it all down into bite sized chunks. I started by writing all my thoughts into a journal until there was nothing left. Then I meditated and asked what my grief and anxiety was trying to show me. The realization I was left with was that I felt guilty. From here I made a flow chart and just scribbled into my journal all the reasons why I felt guilty and talked about it with my therapist. I do this all the time. Anytime I feel triggered I go into my journal, meditate, and get to the root. Doing this has cultivated compassion for myself. Know that you’re strong and working through these moments will make you so much stronger!
Ways to cultivate compassion for yourself in hard times:
Fuel your body with nutrient dense foods.
Your body is constantly going into the stress response, or fight/flight, when anxious. Eliminate foods that keep the body in fight or flight like caffeine, refined sugars, and alcohol.
Do gentle movement.
Hard workouts can raise cortisol, which can be good for some people, but hard on your nervous system when already in fight or flight. Gentle movement like yoga sends your body back into rest and digest.
Breathe into your belly.
Diaphragmatic breathing massages the heart with each breath and stimulates the phrenic nerve, which coaxes your body back into rest and digest.
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