In this What’s On My Mind episode, I share my thoughts on living and thriving with anxiety and panic disorder and my personal process for dealing with it all.
As of this writing, I am in day three of an extended social media break. Why? I simply couldn’t breathe. I was losing it, and losing perspective, something I value and require as a creative small biz coach and empowerer.
As a leader, perspective is so incredibly important for you to have. It’s defined as “the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance”. And OMG how easy it is to lose in the era of social media.
“In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Bertrand Russell
Let’s begin at the beginning. If you know me, you know I LOVE social media for it’s ability to empower creative humans; to build relationships, deepen understanding, create connections, and grow businesses. But, and this is a big BUT, it can also be exhausting, anxiety producing and one of the best ways to lose perspective if you are too deeply engaged.
The last few months have been heavy, with what seems to be gut wrenching suffering, pain and bad news. For some of you, like me, it’s become too much to process. There plenty of proof on the internet today that show the effects of social media on mental health. Check out this article.
Self awareness is key here. If you feel yourself getting more anxious than normal, angry, resentful or out of fucking control, it may be a sign that it’s time to take a break.
So what do we do? If you have an online business like me, how in the world do you disconnect? If you rely on social to build and grow your business, like most of you do, how can you take a break? Here’s how.
This past week, I chose to take an extended break (at least 5 days), and with that, came the question… how will I care for my clients and be offline? Well, it’s been quite simple.
With two Facebook groups and hundreds of clients on Instagram, logging in does not mean I have to dwell in the news feeds, if fact, I have not even looked at them. Instead, I just log on and go straight to my A School and Social Beauty Intelligence Facebook groups, and it’s business as usual.
For Instagram, I simply log in and search my hashtag and then am able to engage with those who are choosing to use it, a good reminder of why a branded hashtag matters #passionsquared It’s a listening tool. And on my break I am able to still “listen” a bit and engage with my clients.
So this social media break was not 100% off the internet, this break was about removing myself from public dialogue, news feeds and content creation. Lastly, be sure you post that you are taking a break and how to get in touch during your break. No drama needed, just simple and direct. Here is an example of my post on Instagram, made with the GIFx app. Here is the Facebook post.
This is what I see as maintenance mode. If we maintain a plan to unplug, we are less likely to be at a breaking point and need an extended break. The last year I have done a weekly “24 hours” off the social media. This is a full 24, sometimes 48 hours, in a row. This has helped immensely with perspective and has allowed me to simply take a rest. Try it. Start with 24, then see how you feel. Next thing to do is remember you have a choice on what and who you listen to and follow. Schedule time to unsubscribe from emails you no longer want, from people who are toxic, or simply from noise that doesn’t serve you.
This is the key and sometimes you are moving so fast, you do not even realize what is causing your agitation. In order to listen to your body and mind, you gotta slow down. And you have to take your power back. Drop the phone and pick up a book, have lunch with a friend, go on a Netflix binge, take a long walk, whatever.
Now this may be one of the most important aspects of maintaining perspective. If you have tapped into the power of social media for business, then your primary purpose for being on any given platform is to build relationships and solve problems with and for your target audience, your “people”. And I know how much time you spend watching and listening to people that are not your audience. This is a big problem as your energy becomes focused on what others are doing, then the comparison game begins, and we know where that leads. Most importantly, it is distracting you from your current and future clients. So STOP it. Just stop. You will find so much more joy and value when you refocus your energy where it belongs, on your tribe.
When you put these four steps into practice, there is no doubt you will be able to keep a better perspective on your biz and more importantly, on your life. You will be able to be more present for your clients, team, family and community. You will be able to breathe again.
I miss my community.
Going back to the beginning of this blog, I LOVE social for all the good it brings, and a big part of that is community. And I love mine. And I miss you.
I miss listening.
Social listening is one of the most awesome benefits for an owner and leader. Why? When we listen, really listen, we learn. How do you know how to solve problems if you don’t even know what the problems are? How do you celebrate your clients in between visits when you have no clue what they are up to? This is one of my favorite things about social, listening.
Instagram engagement is WAY down
Over 80% drop in engagement in fact, and that’s the risk we take. But I also know that it will not take long to build it back up when I return. And since social is not my ONLY way of engaging clients (email marketing still matters!) this break has given me some time to be more thoughtful about my overall content strategy and how I engage with current and future clients. During this break I am also running a Facebook ad for a NEW class, and thus, Facebook engagement is actually up as is traffic to my website from Facebook.
As a leader, I have a responsibility, as do you, to maintain perspective, stay present and be the best I can be in order to serve you. And if that means a little social media break, so be it.
Thank you for all your love and support of this break, I see you, I hear you, I feel you and I love you. Now go schedule yours.
Love + Gratitude-
PS: As of this blog, I will be sharing some BTS info into how this blog was created. I hope you find value in this as you continue to work on content creation.
BTS for this blog post
Total Time: 3 hours
Writing, Editing, Proofing
The idea came to me a few days ago. From idea, I created a simple outline, about 30 min. From that, I began writing which took about an hour. Editing about 30 min. Graphics about 15 min. Final touches (re-reading, previewing, testing, tags, SEO stuff), about 15 min.
All made with Canva.com (my go to for all blog graphics)
Embedded Facebook post in blog (for WordPress)
Click on the (…) bar at the top right of your Facebook post and select the Embed option, then paste the embed code into your post in the “text” option of your blog post.
“I promise you nothing is as chaotic as it seems. Nothing is worth your health. Nothing is worth poisoning yourself into stress, anxiety, and fear.” Steve Maraboli
(this post was originally published on February 10, 2014. I have gotten so many requests recently to discuss the topic of anxiety I chose to update it today)
Anxiety sucks. And its real. It can rob of us so much joy. It can paralyze us and isolate us. I am continually asked about this topic as I have shared openly that I live with anxiety and panic disorder, and on Saturday, a beautiful member of the Passion Squared community asked that I share some ways that I have been able to deal with it.
First and foremost, I am not a doctor. Duh. But I am in treatment and continue to battle this crippling condition, successfully (most of the time), thus, my ability to speak on the topic from MY experience.
Lets begin with the definition of generalized anxiety disorder explained by The National Institute of Mental Health…
“All of us worry about things like health, money, or family problems. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. They are very anxious about just getting through the day. They think things will always go badly. At times, worrying keeps people with GAD from doing everyday tasks.”
So yes, it is all in our head, and for us, the fear and worry are very real.
The following are the ways that I treat my anxiety today…
I consistently see a therapist. Knowing that I have a mental disorder, I have accepted that one of the best ways to keep my head straight is to treat it. When we have a physical health issue, we see a doctor. Mental health is no different.
2. Eating + Exercise
One of the best pieces of advice I was given that works for me was about keeping my blood sugar regulated, meaning, eating some type of protein every 3-4 hours. In addition to that, I am very mindful of how much I mix caffeine and sugar. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE espresso and drink it every morning. But I do not drink Venti Iced Mochas (sugar mixed with caffeine). Now on the exercise front, it works. And while I am not yet to the point where I do it consistently, when I do, my anxiety is greatly reduced.
3. Vitamin B
Again, I am not a doctor and am not saying what works for me will work for you, but keeping loaded up on B vitamins has absolutely helped me. And when I am not staying loaded up on B’s, I can feel the difference.
Whenever I am absolutely freaking out, I throw in my ear buds and listen to meditation music, Zen type stuff. It seems to really help calm down my heart rate. At the same time, if I am getting ready to present in front of an audience and cannot catch my breath, which is often, I will listen to my fave hip hop song, it seems to work for me as well.
5. Gratitude + Meditation + Prayer
One of the things I have learned about anxiety is that it can go from bad and to worse the more we focus on it and all the things we are fearful of. When I make my gratitude list, for just that moment, I get out of my head. It works. Same goes for meditation and prayer. Now, I am not religious, but I do my own kind of prayer. The meditation thing, I do by listening to meditation music as mentioned in #4.
6. Take A Walk
I know, I get so angry when people are like…”Just take a walk, you will feel better.” OMG, do you have any idea what I am going thorough right now? But in all seriousness, removing myself from the current environment, just for a few moments, helps. So if you are at work, walk outside. At home, move to another room. Anything you can do to change your environment can help.
7. Give Someone A Hand
This is a big one. The more we focus on our fears, the more fearful and anxious we become. So again, like the gratitude list, its good to get out of our own heads. Helping someone out, a co-worker, a boss, a friend or neighbor helps me get out of my head, and move past the anxiety I am feeling in that moment.
Now again, I am NOT A DOCTOR. I am only speaking from my experience and plead with you to go back to point 1, see a mental health professional and together, decide what the best treatment for you is. I have chosen not to be consistently medicated. Reason being, I tried, and I had disastrous results. My choice has been to work my ass off to battle this disorder the most natural way I can. However, I do have a prescription for a medication that I take ONLY when I am in a serious and debilitating attack. I am proud to say, I only have to take this 1-2 times a month, at most. And it is always a last resort for me.
9. Healthy Boundaries + Creating Space
Last but not least, I have created a space of peace and calm in my world. I have removed toxic people, toxic places, and most toxic things. I have sacrificed a lot to do this, but as an adult, I get to choose. And so do you. This could mean saying NO more, pairing down that to-so list, removing projects that are overwhelming you, staying offline from time to time, etc. It is a choice. As hard as that is to grasp.
Living with anxiety blows but we do have a choice of how we are going to let it control our lives. And like anything worth having in life, it takes work.
A big shout out of love + gratitude to Duke Strange, who inspired this post.
If you are looking for some daily inspiration and help with keeping you on track, sign up for my Awesome A Day text coaching program, one of the most loved services I offer.
Love + Awesomeness-