When in Doubt, Dance it Out: Breaking Free from Anxiety

I just got back from an amazing vacation in GORGEOUS San Jose Del Cabo.  Actually, gorgeous is an understatement.  The view that greeted me as I woke each day was nothing short of breathtaking.

I was immersed in clear blue skies, beautiful turquoise water, friendly faces, and delicious food for a full seven days.  Talk about a heavenly experience, right?

It was, in fact, heavenly, but probably not in the way you imagine, and definitely not for the reasons I just described.

I was indeed able to appreciate the magnitude of beauty around me, but my well deserved vacay was rudely interrupted by some pretty heavy anxiety.

Before I get into specifics, let me just say that I never realized how much anxiety showed up in my life until this trip.  Of course I've dealt with it on occasion in my past, but I had absolutely NO idea it had snuck it's way into so many areas of my life. #rude

So back to my trip...

We touch down in Mexico, and I'm incredibly excited about what the next seven days would bring.  We arrive at a fabulous resort, and I'm awe struck at the views, five star penthouse suite, and impeccable service.  Then we have an amazing ocean side dinner at a restaurant that serves some of the BEST food EVER!

I mean, I was floating on cloud nine.  And then the storm came...

Not literally (not yet, anyways), but figuratively.  

It wasn't drastic, but little by little my experience began to change until I woke up one day, and everything was different.  Really, it was me that was different.  The view was still breathtaking, and of course the food was still banging, but somehow my rose colored glasses were nowhere to be found.

I was so in my head that I felt as if my vacation was being snatched right from under me.  I've actually written about this quite a bit on The Working Dancer, about being in your head, changing your focus, etc., but what I was experiencing in Cabo was on a whole other level.

I guess that saying about idle minds being the devil's playground holds some truth because when we were busy, I was able to stay somewhat present.  In fact, towards the beginning of the trip, we took a zip line excursion through the canyons in Cabo.  I did some major hiking and faced my fears by courageously walking across a shaky wooden bridge that extended across the canyon (which took some serious prayer...lol) and by zip lining solo across some monster lines.

But I hit rock bottom shortly after that.  One particular night, I felt myself sinking, and I knew the break was coming.  When I'm feeling low, I turn to the shower to talk to God, to cry, to sit with my thoughts, to be renewed by the water...pretty much for whatever spiritual refuge I seek.  A nice, hot, candlelit shower is my prayer closet.

That night, once I got into the shower, that's exactly what happened.  I released whatever had me all worked up, said a prayer, did a few affirmations, and then resolved to take my vacation back.

For the rest of the trip, I stayed close to the water.  I walked along the shore line with my feet in the ocean, I took naps in cabana beds on the beach, I finished a book while sitting in one of the lounge chairs facing the beach, and I meditated to the sounds of the waves.

In those last few days I spent at the Pacific Ocean, I just took in the waves and listened for wisdom regarding my anxiety.  I sought answers to how I arrived at such an overbearing experience that week, replayed the ways anxiety has likely shown up in my life masquerading as something else for so many years, and waited for guidance from that still-small-voice within on what to do next.

And wouldn't you know, I got exactly what I needed.

In the past, anxiety has generally surfaced in my career pursuit,  and it's started making appearances in my personal relationships lately.  What I realized though, is that I get wrapped up in anxiety when I don't trust myself, my choices, or the promise that I'll end up where I'm working so hard to get.  

I remembered that I'm not alone, that there are many others who share in this experience.  While anxiety shows itself in different ways for different reasons, the experience of it is likely the same.  It's uncomfortable, unsettling, and a real peace-snatcher.

And finally, I connected with that place deep within myself that knew everything was going to be okay.  I felt a peace that surpasses all understanding and a knowing that all things are working together for my good.  

To put the icing on the cake, on one of our final days there, confirmation came by way of a rainbow.  I'm sure you can already tell by my relationship with water that one of the ways I experience God is through nature.  Rainbows have always been symbolic to me.  I see them to be a sign that God sees me and will fulfill His promises in my life. When I saw that rainbow, tears welled in my eyes at the certainty of my breakthrough.

If you're experiencing anxiety in your life, just know that you're not alone.  Also know that anxiety does not define you, you define you.  Make the choice to take your peace back.  

Not sure where to start?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Take deep, centering breaths to get out of your head and in to the present moment.
  2. Meditate for a few minutes daily.  This will bring a calm and confidence to your life.
  3. Affirm your wholeness.  Affirmations like "I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.", or "I have control over my mind, not the other way around." will do wonders to kick anxiety in the behind.
  4. Talk to someone about what you're experiencing and where it's coming from.  This helps you get out of your head, and it also places you in a supportive environment.
  5. When in doubt, dance it out! Another great way to get out of your head is to get into your body.  While many people exercise to release tension, I find healing in dance.  Not only are you getting a work out, but you're also able to express your inner most thoughts and feelings through the movement.  It's a double whammy...healing for both your mind and your body.

I previously mentioned that this trip was heavenly for reasons other than the obvious splendor of the location.  This trip was heavenly because of the growth and spiritual healing I experienced.

I was able to recognize and call anxiety out for the thieving distraction that it is, I was able to find the strength to choose peace and work my way back towards it, and I was able to leave Cabo wiser, stronger, and more confident in my wholeness.

I know that if I can break free from anxiety, then you can too. #breakfree

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