TWERK for Anxiety

“Who are you? What words describe you? What do you wish people knew about you?”

Three questions, short in length and large in significance.  These were the ice breaker questions of a small breakout session during last year’s Women’s Fitness Summit.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love ice breakers?  So awkward!  So uncomfortable for me!  So full of growth opportunities!

And because I’m super great in front of new people and also super lucky, I went first out of our group of about 15 women.  After flushing completely and wiping my palms, I stammered out something along the lines of this:

“I’m Amber.  I identify as “the mother”, not just of my own children but for other people in my life.  I try to love people unconditionally.  I’m sometimes the life of the party, [side note truthbomb: This is a way I sometimes deal with my insecurities in groups,  usually with the help of booze].  I talk about feelings a lot, and try to say things other people are afraid to say.  What I’d like people to know about me is that I am scared pretty much all the time.”

The last sentence strangling out of my throat sounding more like a subversive sob than something I meant to say.

And then I apologized for the outburst.  Because you know, shame on me for feeling feelings.  [This exchange was the final one in my history of apologizing for my tears, which I wrote a newsletter about last fall!]

But what I didn’t say? Is that I’m still afraid that I don’t actually belong in this space, or most spaces to be honest. I’m scared that once people get to know me they’ll be let down and/or see the truth.  And that the reason I am included in these events and groups at all is because I have value as a customer. Yes. I’ve managed to convince myself at multiple points along this RRM project that the reason there is room for me at these tables has more to do with my pocket book than my person.

Oh, the crazy stories we tell ourselves.

I’ve learned as an adult (after diagnosis, medication, and therapy) that this is the voice of my anxiety in action, always threatening to rise above the constant whisper of “what are you DOING?  You suck!  Here are all the reasons you were awful yesterday/last week/last month/4 years ago.  Why would anyone want to hear from you?”

Now when those whispers turn into a roar I have some strategies to meet and move past it.  And because my heart is light by nature but I sometimes need a reminder to lighten up, I’ve named this system working my TWERK.

If I start to feel like my anxiety and/or depression is going to swallow me whole I check into my twerk:

Talk – Shame stories can’t survive in the light, and talking about them shines a spotlight right on them.  So reach out.  Call a friend or loved one.  Write a post in your journal or in your corner of the internet.  We live in a world that allows us to connect in ways never before possible.  Use them!  Your people are out there and waiting to support you.  Find them!  Hit comment and tell me.  I am your people.

Work – Sometimes this means writing.  Sometimes it means moving my body.  Sometimes it means cleaning my house or fixing something.  Sometimes it means shaking my booty and actually twerking.  Just a little action in any of these parts of my life can give the confidence boost and momentum needed to start feeling better.

Eat – Vegetables.  Come on Amber.  Coffee is not a food group.

Rest/Recovery – Elevated cortisol levels from lack of time spent sleeping and recovering is a huge factor hampering healthy living efforts.  So while our first instinct when the unworthy voices creep in is to DO ALL THE THINGS EVEN HARDER, it is entirely possible that we actually need to sleep and recover more, not less.

Kindness, always.  If I’m struggling to be kind to the woman in the mirror, I focus it outward.  Because you can’t lift another person up without gaining a little boost yourself.

This system is easy to remember with it’s silly name, and it works as a touchstone to ground us back in our best lives.  It’s fairly simple to determine which area is lacking and focus some intention there. If I find myself unwilling or unable to address any of these TWERK points, I know it’s time to talk to my doctor about some additional resources and support.  There is no shame in my mental health game.

If you’ve stuck with me during this wordy post that took me an impossibly long time to write (we’re talking weeks here), I thank you and would love to hear from you if you have a second and are into it.  Hit reply on my Facebook page or comment here and tell me your answers to the icebreaker questions:

“Who are you? What words describe you? What do you wish people knew about you?”

Looking forward to learning about you.


1 Comment

  • Erica

    July 21, 2017

    Thanks for sharing!

    Who am I? A super sensitive deep thinker.
    What words describe you? Quiet, but outgoing in certain situations. A people person who loves to have deep conversations. I also can be awkward in certain situations.
    What do I wish people knew about me? My anxiety can sometimes take over my life in negative ways.