I just came back from a walk with my dog. It’s something I don’t do often with him. I either let him out in the backyard and supervise him, or walk him in the front yard when it gets late. These walking duties are split with mom 80/20 (that is, probably 80% her, 20% me), who is more likely to take him up the hill and to the park nearby our house, where he quite frankly has the time of his life running and prancing around, smelling new smells, encountering different people and dogs. But I’m usually not down to walk him because I’m afraid people will stop me and ask about him, wanting to strike up a dialogue about his undeniable cuteness, “what breed is he?”, etc. It’s small talk, pleasantries, and overall socialization I want to avoid at all costs, mainly because when I go for my walk I have headphones in; I’m studying production / meditating on music, I’m grappling with any personal issues I may be having with myself and/or others, I stick to a pace so I can get some steady physical activity in my life. It’s this whole total introspection exercise for me (with a physical benefit). And by bringing the dog (who is also a puppy and runs all over the place), I can’t accomplish this tried and true exercise of mine. Because it works! I always feel better when I go for a walk; I feel better because I got some exercise and broke a sweat, and maybe got some clarity on an issue I was having, or least of all, I listened to some good music and really got in the zone. All of this has a role in alleviating the anxiety I find myself plagued with from time to time. And boy, has it been bad lately.
I feel like I’ve been struggling with a slow and painful crescendo of anxiety for the past three weeks or so. And when I say “struggling” I completely mean it. It creeps up when I wake, is present when I drift off to sleep and is at varying levels throughout the day. It hasn’t been feeling like it’s been getting better, but continuously building to unbearable levels. And anxiety is something I’m no stranger to. I’ve struggled with it since I child, though never medically diagnosed, and it has continued to plague my adult life as well. However, within the past 5-6 years or so I’ve worked on ways to keep it at bay; “change my relationship to it”. And this has been accomplished through writing (songs or otherwise), meditation, most recently yoga, also reading and devouring the ideas of Carl Jung, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Campbell, as well as watching The Power of Myth, etc. And honestly, just being open and honest with my feelings with my parents and friends. Crying also helps sometimes. I’m still struggling to attend yoga classes at the frequency I was a few months ago, so this morning I made myself go to a restorative class my friend was teaching, and within the first 5 minutes I felt a tear start streaming down my right cheek simply because I started to feel an alleviation of anxiety, mixed with the promise of peace.
The thing too about my anxiety is that sometimes its not clear why I’m experiencing it. It seems to just appear? And it’s not until I really start to deconstruct what’s been going on in my life, am I then able to follow the thread down to this root of anxiety. I have a bunch of ideas why I’m currently experiencing it (work, my EP, making plans I’m also starting to realize makes me incredibly anxious, there’s also a small voice about future just underneath the din; There so much more probably). I also think I set expectations for myself that I’m just not able to meet and then I get upset and hard on myself about it. Not that they’re unrealistic, but I just think I have to structure my time differently and not be so mean to myself. I think I’ve blogged about this before, but I was reiterating this idea to my mom this morning about how this self-governing principle I have, that grew and grew while transitioning from child to adult, to the point where I now have no sympathy for myself, and how I tend to treat my actions, inactions, and mistakes in this very cut and dry militant way and how that’s really not good for my mental health. In this conversation I also touched on this need to please others that has also migrated over from my childhood (constantly trying to please my dad in academics and extracurriculars) and into adulthood with these self-governing principles making me feel like shit when I can’t accomplish that completely unrealistic mission of pleasing everyone; Like a fucked up, perverse muscle memory that harms myself and helps no one.
But to get back to the beginning of this post, what I wanted to touch on was that halfway through this short little walk my dog I took, I realized how nice it was; There were quite frankly not that many people at the track. There was a woman and her granddaughter whom I said “Hi” to. And it was good chunk of time where I could focus on the playfulness and excitability of my dog, the nice day outside, my own breathing and sense of gratitude. I was a period of time spent away from screens, spent away from my phone. My ears open to the sounds of the park. And it was calming. There was a part of me that did want to stay and walk longer, but not wanting to push my pup too hard, I opted to come home, where I am now writing this, getting all these ideas out, telling this story that is giving me peace of mind and clarity somehow (that I hope perhaps gives you the same). And I will now continue to enjoy this day off, make some cold brew, take a shower, and enjoy the house with my dog. Another thing I was saying to my mom this morning was the older I get, the more I realize that I am 100% introverted, I just tend to act extroverted in social spaces to better get along with people. And while I don’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing, I just think I need to be more cognizant of that and what that means for my overall mental health and how I choose to spend my energy.
Yoga (and the dog walk) was so necessary this morning and I was so glad I made the time. It’s complete transformative magic I need to prioritize more. I also need to start eating better and going on more walks. Last time my anxiety got like this was when I was in a “physical activity” slump. But once I got on the elliptical machine, I could feel it all start to melt away. One of my frustrations is that it’s been difficult lately to make the time for this due to my sometimes early mornings and then late nights, requiring me to sleep in to get the rest I need. But I’m all about finding balance because when I can balance, everything becomes Zen. If I can find balance, I can see clearly and accomplish anything. And because of this, it is something I must continually strive for.