Relationships

How Are You These Days?

How Are You These Days?

You guys. If we were in the same place, I would come flop on the sofa and say, “Bah, I am so overwhelmed.” How are you doing these days?

It’s no secret on this site that I have generalized anxiety (Exhibits A, B and so on…). It ebbs and flows, and sometimes it almost fades away, but lately I’ve been feeling extra frayed for a few reasons. Of course, everyone has ups and downs. “There are years that ask questions and years that answer,” said Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God.

I read a quote on Pinterest (naturally) the other day:

Two things to remember in life:
Take care of your thoughts when you’re alone, and
Your words when you’re with people.

I’m definitely the worst at thoughts when I’m alone. I remember going to the beach when Alex and I were first dating, and he left to go on a little hike, while I was reading magazines, and by the time he got back my thoughts had spiraled into an anxiety tornado. (Sexy, right? Haha)

Anyway, slowly but surely, I’m trying to get better at it (as my mom always says, “Take gentle care of yourself”). In the meantime, here’s a comic for those of you who may feel the same.

How Are You These Days?

And that funny video, if you haven’t seen it yet, of a baby leading a modern dance class:

Hope you’re having a good week, sending you a hug either way! xoxo

P.S. On happiness.

(Mindy Kaling photo just because I love her, with cutie Danny Castellano. Cartoon from Toothpaste For Dinner.)

  1. Stacy says...

    This is the first opportunity I’ve had to sit and thank you for this post. I couldn’t have said how I’ve been feeling this summer any better. Thanks for always being so easy to relate to – ups and downs! Two boys 2 & 4 make it tough to sit and thank a fellow mom in the same trenches!

  2. Heather says...

    I was misdiagnosed with GAD when I was in my teen years and discovered that I actually have OCD when I was in my mid-twenties. I understand wild and rampant thoughts!!! I’ve had everything relatively under control for years now, but have just started doing Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” which includes doing “morning pages” every day. I love the idea of meditation but could never really get my mind to quiet. But these morning pages are like meditation for people with anxiety!!! Every day I write three, long form pages of the gibberish that is running around in my mind. I purge my brain. It is literally nonsense and makes no sense, but it’s just every thought that my brain is thinking. When this book is full, I plan to burn it and start a new one. Oftentimes I come up with resolutions to problems that have been causing me anxiety without even trying to. I understand that when you’re exhausted from anxiety that you really don’t want to do ANYTHING, let alone write things down or read a damn book about it, but if you can find it in you to get on board, I swear it will help!

  3. julieanne says...

    Hey Joanna! I’m feeling you! I’ve been in therapy for about 6 months now & it’s helping, very slowly but surely, there’s also a good book by Sarah Edelman ‘change your thinking’

    Sending love from Australia xx

  4. camila says...

    Hi Joanna,

    I feel like you’re an old friend, and we’re so much alike. It’s nice to know that people like us can appear so normal and cool on the outside.

    love your posts!!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks for your sweet note. it makes me think of that line, “everyone is normal until you get to know them.” :)

  5. Jaimi says...

    I just attended a session on mindfulness during faculty orientation week at the school where I teach. The facilitator said this thing that has been with me all week: When you feel like your thoughts are a runaway train, remind yourself that just because they’re your thoughts doesn’t mean that they are true.

  6. Joanna, it’s so refreshing that you write such honest posts. I can definitely relate to what you’re going through, and often find myself being horribly self-critical. When I’m feeling down, I try to remind myself of two favorite quotes of mine:

    Theodore Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy” – with social media these days, this is becoming more and more of a necessary mantra!

    Oscar Wilde: “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance” – you seem like such a kind person, so remember to be kind to yourself :)

  7. Joanne says...

    Anxiety has always been a big problem for me, but my anxiety has been off the charts this past month, with a big change in my responsibilities at work, as well as a car accident. These days, I’m overwhelmed and anxious to the point that my back muscles actually feel like hard, twisted knots and I’m always tense. Surprisingly, the mindfulness meditation app, Headspace, has been very helpful for me and it has been making it a little bit easier to be gentle and kind with myself. I’m still awed by the fact that there’s even a meditation app around these days, but I’m so grateful for the relief (however temporary) it has given me. I wonder if anyone else here has tried it out? :)

    • I second the Headspace recommendation. It’s wonderful. I hope you feel better soon.

  8. Thank you for this, it’s just so nice to hear about others that go through the same thing. Dave (my husband) definitely had to learn how to react to those spiral moments, he’s totally my pillar in those moments now. Therapy has helped me be strong in those moments when he’s not there, my mantra:

    “this is how it feels now,
    it’s okay that I’m worried,
    I will feel better tomorrow or maybe the next day,
    I can make it until then.”

    Be well.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that.

  9. I totally feel you on the anxiety front! I have to fight it all the time too. It’s been extra hard to battle lately. Great thoughts in this post!

  10. Erin says...

    I love your frankness about everything. My anxiety has been at bay recently but we all get there! I would give you a hug and share a glass of wine if we were real life friends (is it creepy that I feel like we are?) sleep always helps too. And that cartoon is too funny!!

  11. Jessica says...

    Oh boy, have I ever been feeling anxious lately. And a bit helpless, which contributes to the funk. My grandmother is not doing well and I’m visiting again for the 3rd time in as many weeks because we don’t know how much time she has left. And I’m currently between jobs, finally got an interview set for what I hope is a dream job, and trying not to get my hopes up too much while also not fretting about paying my bills on unemployment (don’t get me started on trying to get insurance through the government!) But I’m also trying to be grateful for the fact that my open schedule allows me to spend more time with my family right now, and that they live close enough to see them often. I’m grateful for a wonderful and understanding boyfriend, and I’m looking forward to the trip we’re taking in November for my 30th birthday. Oh yeah, and I’m turning 30. So there’s all the (self-imposed, no one is directing it at me!) pressure, seeing my friends getting married, buying houses, having babies…and I’m just planning a trip to Disney World here.

  12. Laurie says...

    Love the cartoon. I could recite for you every “wrong” thing I have said in my entire adult life. And I’m sure no one else noticed any of them.

    My anxiety came on with the births of my 3 children, beginning 25 years ago. The good news is it has lessened as I get older, and as my kids get older. I can now comfortably spend time in high rises, ride elevators, and drive on highways. Still contemplating flying – I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to that. It’s crazy and unexplainable, but acupuncture was a big help to me.

    In a sea of similar, and often pointless blogs, yours stands alone. I follow a lot of blogs, and I’ve never seen another like it. Akin to a newspaper column. Anna Quindlen, Jeanne Marie Laskas, (both columnists I loved!) and Joanna Goddard :) Keep it up!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my goodness, laurie, your comment made my day, my week. thank you so much.

  13. Mikkele says...

    I’m reading this in the wee hours of the morning because I couldn’t sleep. I started a new job this week and I feel like I’m never going to understand everything or even remember people’s names.

    The times when I’m the most anxious are the times I forget that I have a lot of people in my life who love and support me. Sometimes it’s enough for me to spend some time picturing the people I’m closest to and how they would have my back if anything terrible were to actually happen.

  14. Mette says...

    Thank you for being so honest- a rarity in these Instagram/Facebook-fueled times where everyone’s lives seem so “perfect”! It’s what keeps me coming back to your blog.

  15. Lauren says...

    I read something recently about anxiety that made me think. It compared humans and animals and said that while both feel fear, only humans feel anxiety because they have the capability to anticipate a real or perceived threat that may or may not actually take place. So, like animals, may we all live in the moment, and not waste our precious lives letting the fearful part of our imaginations get the best of us.

    For me, when I start to feel anxious, I like to quiet the voices in my head with happy distractions — cooking, watching a familiar TV show that brings me comfort and makes me laugh (30 Rock, Sex and the City, Broad City), reading, or exercising. But usually my anxiety gets especially out of control if I’m not sleeping enough and/or well. Sleep is SUCH an important tool in keeping your mind calm throughout the day.

    The world is full of so many anxiety-inducing worries and events, and I try to ignore those as much as possible. That may make me ignorant, but ignorance really can be bliss!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s fascinating! also, great tip about watching a tv show. 30 Rock cures all ills. :)

  16. Rachel says...

    I know what you mean. I just started back at work after being home with my baby for the first 5 months. It’s been hard to leave her, and to get back into the groove of work. Anxiety is a struggle and my mantra is “just breath.” Reading the blog always helps me. I especially love that baby modern dance video!

  17. Shay says...

    Thanks for sharing your heart. It’s comforting to hear about others with similiar struggles who still find a way to make it. I’m reading a couple books right now that have been really encouraging in these areas: Self-Compassion and Anxious to Please.

    I’ve been struggling with thoughts and feelings I don’t want to have. My therapist told me that it’s impossible to unthink thoughts or unfeel feelings (think the ‘don’t think about a white polar bear’ example). He said I can acknowledge them (not feel guilty for them) and re-focus on something else. Easier said than done, yes. However, it has been freeing to know I can have the thought and acknowledge it, rather than eliminate it. I’ve been imagining a clothes carousel at the drycleaner. Yep, there’s that thought again- ok, let’s move on to other things. :)

  18. The alone with your thoughts issue really rings true. For me the worst time has often been when my boyfriend has fallen sound asleep and I’m still awake with time to worry. Every once in a while I would get so antsy I would suddenly turn on the light and get out of bed and put my coat on.Inevitably he would wake up and I would say I needed to go for a walk or something. Most times I just needed some reassurance and would go back to bed. We affectionately refer to these moments as ” putting on your coat”, so after I started taking a supplement that helps with PMS related anxiousness he said, “Hey you haven’t needed to put your coat on in awhile!”. Having this joke between us makes me feel less embarrassed about it. Sometimes just being able to acknowledge those feelings to other people makes a big difference.

    • Ali says...

      What supplement do you take? PMS relaxed anxiety has become crippling for me. Thanks.

  19. Kristina S says...

    Read about taking Niacin (Vitamin B3) for anxiety

  20. Jess west says...

    Every now and then I used to have anxiety days, my husband suggested I make a note in a diary of when they were to see if there was a pattern (hormones)… One day in bed he turned to me and asked how my day had been how was I feeling in general? He had worked out it was due to be one of my anxious days but I hadn’t called him at work like I usually did. Strangly I hadn’t felt at all anxious for a while, it seemed that by acknowleding the anxiety it had gone away. I also bought myself one of secret holidayclubs amazing “it’s ok ” banners which hangs in my wall as a daily reminder that it is actually all ok. Xxx

  21. Nikki says...

    Hi also a silent reader of your blog for some time now. I suffer from anxiety about being good enough, when I was a teenager it was a lot about my looks, then in my 20s about being nice/good/kind all the time and having recently turned 30 it is my work, so I have become a workaholic. At each point I have thought that something external- boyfriend, particular job, money, apartment would solve this anxiety, but I always end up back with my own same thoughts. So really rings true- the importance of your thoughts when you are alone and being gently kind to yourself. Thank you for sharing, makes me feel less alone in this struggle today.

  22. Thank you for being genuine and sharing your struggles. Us moms often feel like we have to do it all, while keeping a big smile on our faces. I’m overwhelmed all of the time and we have to keep sharing that with each other so we can help build each other up and not fall into the trap of breaking ourselves down. I’m feeling down and not happy with the direction my day is taking and I know there are others out there feeling the same. So, as I tell myself this I am sending encouragement your way … You are loved! You are worthwhile! You are amazing!

  23. I had one of those days too! So hard on myself, so busy, need to be more perfect, better, faster, stronger, skinnier, smarter, sweeter blah blah blah, its exhausting.

  24. Stephanie says...

    Hang in there, Joanna! For what it’s worth and from this side of the screen, it looks like you’re doing a beautiful job with your family and your career. Thank you for being so honest with us. Xoxo

  25. Isabel says...

    That comic, that’s me! You’re definitely not alone on this one. I hate the fact that I’m blushing, especially at work. So when I had a stressful day, full of awkward moments I just can’t get those thoughts out of my head. I still don’t understand why I care that much, and how do I know what people think about me? There just thoughts. It’s funny that when I told my friends about it, they had exactly the same experience especially at work. We were just to embarrassed to talk about it. So it’s good to share, we must be proud about being sensitive and caring people.

  26. Hi Joanna,

    I completely relate to what you are saying! I’m constantly feeling overwhelmed and this is definitely a “asking questions year” for me. I just turned 31 and I feel like I haven’t acommplished anything in my life, especially careerwise. Time seems to be passing super slowly as if it’s trying to tell me how long is taking me to do stuff or to make something happen, but the more I feel this way the harder it is to move forward or even toward something that feel right.

    Anyway, I think I’m using this space/time to open up a bit.

    I love your blog and how open you are about both the good and bad.

    kisses from Brazil

    Mari

  27. Anonymous says...

    I have to say it is really nice to see everyone sharing their experiences and advice :)
    I will share a few things that helped me and my anxiety:
    – unplugging
    – getting rid of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. (I was overwhelmed by the bombardment of other peoples lives leaking into my own)
    – stopped watching, listening or reading the news
    – reading: Amy Poehler, Maya Angelou, Augusten Burroughs, Pema Chodron, Tiny Buddha
    – set a standing worry appointment for myself…I could worry all I want at 6 o’clock everyday but at 6:15 I have to stop and save the rest for my next appointment.

    Good luck :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this is great advice all around, thank you so much! and oh my goodness i love your worry appointments. that is too sweet. (and awesome.)

  28. I’M OVERWHELMED. I started to write more but trying to think of the right thing to say was stressing me out. Now I’d like a nap.

  29. maria says...

    I’ve been a silent reader of your blog for a couple of years now and i have always though of you as a great mom and writer. i am now a mom myself with an 8 and a half month old that lately started to climb up on sofas and coffee tables and has stop eating and drinking his milk. God we ADORE these babies, but yes, sometimes can be a little stressful being a stay at home mom with no family or friends in the same country… yesterday i had my boiling point and i burst into tears out of frustration. When finally in bed at night i started thinking about all things with led me to a couple hours of insomnia…
    I guess sometimes we just need to think about how good we actually have it compared to the rest of the world, take a deep breath and pour a huge glass of wine..

    Im with you, sometimes just being a woman alone is overwhelming…these hormones …

  30. Mary says...

    My usual method of dealing with anxiety is to consider what is right. Some days that is not effective and I just have to wait. I also consider that I do not want to embarrass myself with a display of bad attitude. I also think of worse things that could happen but have not which is quite effective.

  31. Maria says...

    Oh Jo, I’m sorry you feel this way! Since having my whole life turned around two years ago (moving countries, getting married and changing careers all within a six-month period) I started having episodes of crippling anxiety just as you describe. After spending quite a long time doing nothing about it (“it will pass, it’s just a phase”), I started doing things about it: eating things that made me happy (and pulling on the pounds haha), trying very different exercises (yoga, pilates, jogging, calisthenics, surfing, water aerobics, you name it), travelling more, travelling less, getting a dog, moving apartments, I can say that all worked and had different levels of success in improving my life quality, but none were incredibly effective in controlling my ever-returning anxiety. For that, what has worked the best was going back to the activity I enjoyed the most growing up: swimming. I know it’s not for everyone (my husband gets super bored haha), but for me it’s meditation, I feel incredibly relaxed and even quite numb (in a good way) after having a few laps. And I feel exhausted in the evening, which helps me have a good night of sleep. I still get anxious these days (early this week, for instance), but now I know how to feel better. I don’t know if this will work forever, but it has worked so far, I feel proactive and better, and that’s what counts, isn’t it? Anyway, all that just to give this tip: try to picture what activity you enjoyed the most growing up, and go back to it (and see what happens – who knows!). I really hope you feel better soon!

  32. Hi Joanna,
    I’m extremely claustrophobic, too. I cannot stand to ride in elevators and plane rides create anxiety for me the minute I book my flight. I highly recommend Dan Harris’ book, “10% Happier”. He is an anchorman who had a panic attack on live morning news and found meditation as a great tool to deal with anxiety. It has helped me tremendously.
    xo – Megan
    http://www.amazon.com/10-Happier-Self-Help-Actually-Works-A/dp/0062265431

  33. Angela says...

    I’ve been doing some reading lately and realizing how social media is a beautiful thing, but has sent so many people into a tizzy trying to keep up with the life that everyone else projects. Most people post the things they’re good at, their Olympic events if you will, and we never see the places they’re messy or failing. So anyway, I’ve started to take ahold of where I think I ought to be, and how I should look, and the things I should do and say. I want to be okay with saying no in each season of my life to everything but where I should really be, who I should really be with, and what I really should be doing.

    And I’ve been working hard to let people into my messy, which is so difficult for me, but I don’t want to hold authenticity at an arm’s length.

  34. Jessica says...

    Erie. I’ve been struggling with insomnia and had a panic attack recently… And reading this confirmed I need to get a handle on this…somehow…

  35. fmk says...

    Maybe you miss some transcendence/God? :D I remember you writing that you’re not religious. It would make interesting series – you going to different churches from different religions and then writing about your impressions/thoughts. Or maybe I’m just ridiculous XD. Anyway, hope you’ll get better :)Cheers!

  36. I hear you loud and clear. I went through a bout last month and I thought, really? It’s summertime! But anxiety has a mind of its own, doesn’t it. My baby is leaving for college in a couple of weeks… it’s no wonder I’m a big pile of nerves.

    I love the Pinterest quote and it’s so true. Take care of yourself. We both know it passes, but it really sucks while we’re living it.

    ox

  37. It’ s ok to feel overwhelmed. I do too on many days but ultimately the most useful way for me to overcome it is to choose to relax :)

  38. Tomomi says...

    I always love and appreciate you share your bad day too. I feel bad about not being able to be confident and always happy, but we hit bottom sometime. Thank you for your post and I look forward to next one.

  39. Cat says...

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Joanna. Yesterday was a high anxiety day for me (that Toothpaste for Dinner sums it up!), so it was a neat little gift to read your post along with the comments from all of these lovely people. Knowing you’re not alone helps with the crazy! A friend once sent me this quote after I had written to her about bad days: “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.” Be gentle with yourself, Joanna and everyone! And I’ll do my best to do the same. xo

  40. Teresa says...

    Wow, sometimes, timing isn’t a bi***. I was just overwhelmed dealing with things at work and a lot of emotions regarding my ex-boyfriend and then you asked, how we were. And it felt as if a friend was asking and it was so good to laugh over the cartoon and the video and mostly over the advice from your mum. Thanks for that little sweet moment.

  41. How good must you feel Jo after reading this out pouring of ‘me too’s’? Hope everyone takes your moms great advice, and you feel better soon.

  42. Excessive anxiety, stress and worry is the main reason I got an autoimmune dissorder that will accompany me my whole life. I am trying to relax but the anxious mind always finds a way to return to its past habits. I am in desperate need of vacation but that’s not happening so I am trying to focus on something else. That usually means housework. I try to exhaust myself during the day so by the time I lay down at night I am so tired I have no time to think. That’s not a solution either but desperate times call for desperate measures. Thank you for your post. It’s always comforting to know you are not alone. Xo.

  43. Hi Joanna,

    You’re not alone. Also super overwhelmed (maybe because I’m trying to start a business with various income streams, have just moved house, resigned from my full time job, am studying an MA degree and developing my freelance career – at the same time ;).

    Thank you for this post. And for this community.

    I love that in this space it’s ok (well, more thank ok) to say “We’re awesome, but we’re anxious. We kick butt and do our best. But we second guess ourselves. Our anxiety doesn’t make us any less successful, but it makes thing harder for ourselves”.

    By the way – two books have recently helped me a lot!
    1) Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
    2) The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabana (especially good for workplace anxiety)

    Good luck all!

  44. Oh my, did I ever need to read this today. Thank you for always keeping it real! This is one of the many reasons why Cup of Jo is my favorite read. Hope the love in your comments has brightened your day :)