Princess Peach, my 6-month-old Boston Terrier puppy, has her spay surgery today. To say I'm anxious would be an understatement. There are so many things that could go wrong, so many possibilities, and so many bad outcomes that my brain has a hard time seeing all of the benefits of this potentially life-saving surgery (we know that dogs who get fixed before maturity tend to have a lower overall cancer risk, tend to live longer, in addition to other benefits). I was a nervous wreck all weekend, and it wasn't until I finally gave up trying to fight the anxiety and listened to it that I figured out what was going on.
In the face of stress and anxiety, our instinctual response is often to suppress or ignore these uncomfortable emotions. However, what if I told you that by allowing ourselves to sit with anxiety, we can discover a powerful source of personal growth and mental well-being? Today, we will explore the transformative effects of acknowledging and embracing anxiety. By tuning into our emotions, feeling the anxiety, and practicing mindfulness, we can cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves, find solace in the present moment, and develop the resilience to navigate life's challenges with grace.
Anxiety, though uncomfortable, carries valuable insights if we are willing to listen. Instead of fearing or avoiding it, we can embrace anxiety as a messenger. It is a signal that something within us requires attention. By allowing ourselves to feel the anxiety and sit with it, we begin to unravel the underlying causes and triggers. This self-reflection enables us to gain a better understanding of ourselves, our needs, and our aspirations. Rather than suppressing anxiety, we can transform it into a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery.
When I finally allowed myself to stop fighting and trying to ignore and suppress the anxiety, I realized that I was so nervous about this surgery because as a brachycephalic dog, she has an increased risk of complications in general, but with our last dog, She-Ra, we had such a traumatic 6 years of health problems that started to manifest just before she had her spay surgery and lasted for the entire 6 years of her life. I have been anxious and "what-if-ing" over negative outcomes as I still process that trauma from She-Ra, who was a beloved part of our family, and who we still honestly miss every day.
Suppressing anxiety often leads to a disconnection from our bodies and minds. When we allow ourselves to feel anxiety, we invite an opportunity to reconnect with our physical and mental selves. Anxiety often manifests as physical sensations in our bodies, such as a racing heart, shallow breathing, or tense muscles. By acknowledging and observing these sensations, we become more attuned to our bodies. This heightened awareness allows us to take proactive steps toward self-care and provides valuable insights into our overall well-being.
Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present in the moment, is a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and promoting mental well-being. By consciously focusing on our breath, we anchor ourselves in the present and quiet the mind's inner dialogue. Deep, intentional breaths can help us regulate our nervous system, activating the body's natural relaxation response. Regular mindfulness exercises, such as meditation or gentle movement practices like yoga, can gradually reduce anxiety over time. By incorporating these practices into our daily routines, we strengthen our ability to stay grounded and find inner calm amidst life's challenges.
When anxiety arises, it often feels overwhelming and uncontrollable. However, by allowing ourselves to sit with our anxiety and examining it compassionately, we can realize that anxiety itself is not dangerous or harmful. It is merely a response to perceived threats, whether real or imagined. Through this compassionate observation, we begin to dismantle the fear surrounding anxiety. We gain the confidence to face our worries head-on, knowing that we possess the inner strength and resilience to overcome the challenges that trigger anxiety.
I sat with my worries, my anxiety, my fears. I did some breathing exercises and allowed myself to gently stretch and release tension in my body. Did it solve everything? No, but it did help a lot. The risks are still there - no one can predict the future - but I'm feeling more aware of what my body and mind are doing and why. I now know how to help myself in this time of stress.
Embracing anxiety is a courageous act that holds the potential for profound personal growth and enhanced mental well-being. By allowing ourselves to sit with anxiety, feeling its physical sensations and acknowledging its presence, we establish a deeper connection with ourselves. This connection enables us to be more present in the moment and approach anxiety with calm and compassion. Moreover, incorporating mindfulness and breathing exercises into our daily lives empowers us to reduce anxiety over time. Remember, anxiety does not define us, nor does it have the power to hold us back. Embrace it, listen to its message, and discover the strength within you to thrive in the face of life's challenges.
And as for Peach, the vet just called and said that all is well - her surgery went perfectly, she handled sedation perfectly, and her recovery and wakeup are going perfectly. I can pick her up in a couple of hours and take her home to snuggle and try my very best to keep her very wiggly and active self quiet and calm as she recovers over the next couple of weeks. The anxiety wasn't for nothing - it taught me a valuable lesson, and I'm glad I allowed myself to learn it. I hope you allow yourself to sit with yourself as well the next time you notice you are stressed or anxious and allow yourself to learn and embrace the knowledge. You're always worth it!
Cheers to your good health,