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. 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 :)

  2. Carrie says...

    Joanna, have you checked out the app Headspace? It’s wonderful, and only requires 10 minutes a day of dedicating to meditation and mindfulness. It’s helped me a lot, as has starting up my running again, and doing breathing exercises (to a count of 4 through the nose, then a count of 6 out through the mouth). All of these elements have helped ease my anxiety issues.

    Thank you so much for sharing. I love and appreciate your honesty!

  3. Erica H. says...

    Anxiety is rough, lady. I totally feel you. Humor helps so much, huh? This Onion video made me laugh: http://youtu.be/RIoQARGLY8o

  4. Sharol Flo says...

    I’m overwhelmed. So often that is the word I use to describe my feelings. There’s something comforting in knowing I’m not alone. Thank you everyone for sharing your thoughts. I actually came to Cup of Jo tonight because I needed help unwinding. I think it’s working. Now I’m off to take a relaxing bath while I enjoy some Netflix.

  5. Dylan says...

    I’m starting my 5th year of college and I am SO secretly overwhelmed. I took last semester off as a huge mental health break- actually, my grades forced me too. I wish someone had told me that doing college in 4 years with a 3.0 GPA isn’t an easy thing to do. I have spent the majority of the last 4 years juggling with mental health (depression and generalized anxiety like you, Jo) and academia. I’ve worked really hard the last 9 months to get back on track, and I have real hope that this will be a year that answers. My first day back at school is at 8:30 tomorrow morning, my 22nd birthday is in two days. Thank you for always being so honest, Joanna. I hope your week is good and full of clear mindedness! xoxo

  6. Hillary says...

    (((Hugs))) to you Joanna. We have a lot on our collective plates: children, husbands, big jobs, people who count on us (for everything from employment to emotional support), the responsibility of running households, trying to stay marginally fit and put together, Then you throw in the little daily stuff: making lunches, getting school supplies and staying on top of having enough toilet paper and well it just becomes A LOT. Having a life (even a wonderful one) can just get big and overwhelming. I am not prone to anxiety but we all totally understand being overwhelmed. Thinking about you and all your readers in the same boat. xoox

  7. My sister, who’s now a brilliant and successful journalist, had a nervous breakdown at 25 and has openly sharing her experience on several occasions. This is a quote from one of her articles that resonates so strongly and gives a great tip for dealing with anxiety.

    “I learned that maintaining strong mental health is a lot like maintaining good physical health. I’ve always been conscious of eating well. I love all types of food and my diet is far from Gwyneth Paltrow’s macro-biotic regime but on the whole I try to put more good things in my mouth than bad. I hadn’t adopted the same approach for my mind but it’s exactly the same. If I eat hot chips, chocolate, lollies and fast food for a few days straight, my body will feel awful. If I feed my mind a constant stream of negative morsels – dwelling on all the things I don’t do well, don’t have, can’t do … I will feel awful.

    The most effective tool I was taught to overcome anxiety and the feelings of inadequacy that often accompany it, was also the simplest. It’s this: at night when you put your head on your pillow think of three things you did that day that made you laugh or feel happy, proud or positive.

    Don’t think about the phone-call you didn’t make, or the birthday you forgot, or the words you snapped to someone who didn’t deserve them, or the dinner you didn’t cook, or the email you didn’t send. Instead dwell on three things you did – no matter how inconsequential – that made you feel good. It’s a surprisingly easy habit to develop. Once you turn your mind to it, breaking a pattern of negative thoughts is easy. Until you recognise it though, for many people, it is second nature to beat themselves up daily.”
    The full article is here too if you’re interested: http://www.womensagenda.com.au/talking-about/editor-s-agenda/what-i-learned-from-having-a-nervous-breakdown-at-25/201310103024#.VdPycYu54Q4

  8. What gets you through it, I’m curious? I often gently squeeze or pat my leg and tell myself comforting things. Something I can even do at work, in the face of my mean old boss. ha ha. I think of it as my sweet side comforting my anxious side. Sending you light and hugs, Joanna.

  9. Daniela says...

    I needed to read this, I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed. This month is just crazy for me and I am having a lot of conflicting feelings about what’s going on in my life right now and where I want to be. Just stressful. About to pop down on the couch with wine, popcorn, and Netflix; bliss.

  10. Amy says...

    It’s so good to remember that we never know how someone is feeling inside, despite what perhaps all outward signs point to. :) I took a new job with my company and moved from Boston to Florida in February, after almost 8 years in Boston. The new job is INSANE and completely different from what I was doing, and I still don’t feel like I have a handle on it. And I usually like to be good at things pretty much immediately. Ha. My hometown is close by, so it’s wonderful to be near my family again, but I no longer work in an office, so I’ve lost that social structure. Feeling pretty unanchored, but working to let myself be okay with feeling that way for a little while. We all lay awake at night for a million reasons – wouldn’t it be nice to be able to, like, mind-meld with someone who happened to be awake at the same time? :) Sending zen thoughts your way!

  11. Kaela says...

    I recently started a new high stress position and my anxiety has been through the roof on my days off. Constantly thinking about residents, things I should have said to family members… etc. Your honesty about your anxiety makes me feel less crazy. Thank you!

  12. Karly says...

    Joanna,
    You’re amazing. Thank you. You don’t know how helpful your blog has been for me in recent times. Like you, I have two little ones. After having my second baby (who is 9 months old now), I began having terrible anxiety. I kept trying to shrug it off, but after a severe anxiety attack and many smaller bouts, I knew that something was “not right”. I remembered your post about your postpartum struggles after having Toby. I was still experiencing the anxiety when he hit the six month mark and decided to wean him (so bittersweet) to see if I could get my hormones/body/life back in order… and sure enough, it worked! I visited many doctors, changed my diet, did yoga, got glasses (blurry vision, who knew?!) and the only thing that worked was something that I learned about through your blog! You have such a special space on the internet and touch so many people in a positive way each and every day. Keep doing what you’re doing and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

  13. Jessi says...

    Joanna,

    I can’t tell you what a comfort it was to read that. Lately, I’ve been feeling so completely overwhelmed, and it’s isolating. I’m adjusting to a new grad program, working a job I don’t particularly enjoy, and loving my aging dog and doing my best to nurse her health problems. Some days are just about pulling through, with many ups and downs. I really appreciate posts like this, and the Hurston quote really resonates. Thank you.

    Sending you a hug back.

    Jessi

  14. THAT VIDEO. I literally had tears streaming down my face. So good.

  15. Kathleen says...

    I taped that Zola Neal Hurston line up on my bulletin board years ago. I think it is my favorite first line of any book. It reminds me to try and accept the randomness of when my anxiety rears its ugly head and to truly live when it’s quieted. I hope it brings you some peace as well

    • Tracy says...

      what a beautiful way to put it. thank you

  16. ahhh you read my mind. we just moved out of the city to the burbs and i need to restick all of my fave pinterest quotes back on my new cabinets and my desk area. i just told my husband i need to start working as much as i was before our move b/c when i am not working i am not as happy. what is the deal?! i love your honesty and your voice, thank you for sharing! xo

  17. Christie says...

    I feel you… I suffer from anxiety too and I’m always thinking the worst will strike at any moment. Right now I am agonising over whether to uproot my family and move back to our home in Australia (we are currently Aussies living in the US) so that my daughter can go to school at home near her family.
    Every day I swing between ‘stay in the US, we have a great life here and lots of friends and life is amazing’ and ‘go home – let your daughter experience her family and cousins and the culture of her homeland’.

    I need to make a decision soon. Ugh.

  18. Josephine says...

    Joanna, if we were in the same place right now, I would put out a cheese plate, hand you a big glass of rose, and say, ‘Me too’.
    I won’t go into my own worries, they sound trivial, even in my own head, but regular stuff can often get the better of me. I’ve got two young boys (5 and 3), a part-time job and a husband with a stressful and demanding job, and I’ve been feeling in desperate need of some breathing space! It will come, but right now I’m short-tempered and crankly!
    Big hugs to you. I wish for you the breathing space you need to get back on an even keel!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      aww, i love you guys so much.

  19. Jamie says...

    Ah this is so timely, Joanna. Anxiety is so exhausting. I am feeling tired and overwhelmed today. I’m sorry you’re feeling the same! But it felt better just to read that someone else ‘gets’ how consuming it can be if you let it. I always find your advice on this topic so helpful – I practice dropping my worry into the Grand Canyon all the time (actually, I’m Australian so I use the 12 Apostles). So thank you, and I hope you wake up feeling a little better tomorrow.

  20. Kristen Reid says...

    I feel you in the anxiety dept. – hang in there, surround yourself with people who lift you up (Wise Oprah Wisdom) and remember there’s an inner circle (the things you can control) and an outer circle (the things you JUST can’t control).

  21. ceciel says...

    I know, girl, anxiety sucks. Your mama is right and you’ve got all of us cheering for you. Take gentle care, we love ya!

  22. Emily says...

    I recently found out I am low in testosterone and probably always have been. I’m now doing natural testosterone called BioTe (the little pellet in your bum) and probiotics. I’m seeing a huge change with my anxiety, and I’ve realized my low energy and brain fog was due to my Lexapro!

  23. Jenny says...

    I’ve been trying for years to address my anxiety. It comes and goes. What helps me is knowing how “normal” I am – that I’m definitely not the only one.
    Wishing you generous moments of peace and clarity.

  24. Lee Taylor-Penn says...

    My husband and I just moved from North Carolina to Michigan and I am feeling oh so overwhelmed! Thank you for the reminder that I am not alone, and for the hilarious youtube video. We will make it through!

    • Ali says...

      I just moved, too! Wow, it is overwhelming (Boston to Florida). Exhausting in ways that are hard to articulate. I have a phone interview for a job today and I am so nervous. We should have pen pals via Cup of Jo readers! Maybe that would help!

  25. Rachel says...

    Oh man, I am right there with you. I just had the realization that I have to start being proactive about it. I’ve booked an appoint with a therapist, started taking probiotics, started a gratitude journal. Still a constant daily struggle though. I have to come to terms with the fact that it’s never going to go away, some days will be better and some days will be worse.

  26. Laura says...

    Today was a good day for me to read this! I read your blog every day, but have never commented before. This post really resonated with me because I’ve been feeling the same way lately. I also suffer from anxiety and it’s nice to know that I’m not in it alone! Just reading everybody’s experiences made me feel better. Hopefully we can all be a little easier on ourselves :-)

  27. Erin Cochran says...

    Thank you, Joanna, for sharing this with us. I imagine opening up can’t be easy — no matter how much you love your readers — so I really, really appreciate your courage.

    As someone who has struggled with anxiety my entire life, I am grateful for your courage in opening up about it. I am also very sorry for how overwhelming it makes everything. Don’t you just wish you could lock it in a closet and stuff it away?

    The quote you mentioned – “There are years that ask questions and years that answer,” said Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God — is so apt.

    Wishing you some mindful respite this week.

  28. Michelle says...

    I really enjoy reading your posts they are encouraging and enlightening to say the least. Thank you for being real with us and for allowing all of us in on your life. Sometimes knowing that other people deal with similar struggles shows how alike we all are and by opening up to goods and bads allows balance in life.

    Life is crazy and full of happiness, heartbreak, and confusion, but I look forward to all of it because its mine.

    Sending you smiles.

  29. NIcola says...

    I so feel this! We’re trying to buy a new (our first) house. Lately I’ve been saying to my partner ‘my anxiety bucket is too full’ which helps him understand why small things are just completely throwing me. So right now I’m just focussing on getting through and not being too hard on myself until my bucket empties a bit.

    Also I bought a new perfume that makes me feel powerful xx

  30. Caz says...

    Ah Joanna, this is (one of the reasons) why I love your blog. Too many blogs seem to project these always perfectly styled, perfectly curated versions of life which, while inspiring, can also make you feel a bit rubbish if you fall into the all too easy trap of comparison. It’s nice to be reminded that someone we see as successful and inspiring also has not-so-great days. Thanks for keeping it real.

    If I was flopped on that couch with you (glass of wine in hand) I’d say that I’m feeling a bit lost. I’m having what I like to call a quarter-life crisis. I’m turning 29 in two weeks and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I feel like recently I’ve just been floating, not rowing. I’ve always had the next goal on the horizon and now I’m just stumped. I figure the epiphany will come in the next 6 months or so.

    “I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.” – Augusten Burroughs

  31. Molly says...

    I’m sorry you’re feeling anxious. I hope that you feel as though you have the proper support, whether that includes family/friends, your career, or a professional counselor. I’m a medical student, and one technique I was taught and have subsequently used with patients when they are having a particularly bad bout of anxiety is called grounding. The way I do it is ask for five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell, and one thing they can taste. It breaks your mind out of a spiral and helps refocus. I’m sure there are a lot of other ways to do that, but this is one that’s simple, easy to remember, and I’ve had a lot of luck with.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i LOVE that tip! i’m going to try it. thank you, molly.

  32. Heather says...

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your honesty and the resulting sense of community that comes from it. I hope you feel better.

  33. Nicole says...

    One time when I was chatting with a friend, who happens to be a psychologist, she said some of the wisest words anyone has ever shared with me. ” People who live in the past are depressed, and people who live in the future are anxious. Meanwhile, they are missing so much out of life it’s kind of disheartening.” I know it might not seem like advice but it kind of was for me at that moment, when I was filled with worries and insecurities over the course of my job and love life. So, I encourage you (and everyone else who reads this) to just take a moment to think of all the good things happening in your life at the current moment; i.e. I had the sweetest time at lunch with my boyfriend today, I’ll be publishing in a few weeks in a major scientific magazine, my manicure is on point, etc. It really makes a difference in the way your day will flow, I promise.

    Today, I am feeling happy. There are so many things to do and deadlines to catch up to (!!!) but I am happy. So much to smile about!

  34. Kate says...

    Honestly, not doing too well. I recently graduated with my Master’s degree in art history, had a long internship with a very prestigious museum…..and now NOTHING from jobs. Well, nothing good at least. It’s the first year that I can remember where I’m not excited for fall. I feel like there is nothing left to look forward to. Has everyone had this awful experience when job hunting? It’s incredibly demoralizing.

    • Kara says...

      Oh man, I am in the same boat. >40 job applications sent out and… nothing. I am in a different field (international humanitarian work), but am feeling the same way. Demoralized, frustrated, and questioning whether or not all of this was the right way to go. I liked the quote Joanna mentioned (“There are years that ask questions and years that answer”). This is definitely a year that is asking questions, but we can only hope that soon we will turn a corner and the year that answers will begin. Wishing you (and everyone else feeling directionless) something to look forward to. I’m hoping that someday I’ll look back on this and feel proud at my perseverance through the (deep, heavy, hope-sucking) mud. Sigh.

      Thanks, Joanna, for your warmth, honesty, and thoughtfulness. Your posts always deliver what I need – whether it’s inspiration, a laugh, perspective, new ideas, or (in today’s case) the reminder that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. xo

  35. Megan says...

    I’ve been feeling pretty anxious lately myself. I just found out I’m pregnant and started stressing even more thinking about how the stress is bad for the baby. Oh dear. I had a long talk with my midwife about it and I’ve made a huge effort to adopt some ways to alleviate it. It all stems from my job and that isn’t going away any time soon. So whenever I can I take a long walk away from the office. Today I treated myself to a donut at lunch and read my book and tried my hardest to really focus on that moment and how enjoyable it was. I wish I could say it was working. But I know it will get better eventually and that’s what I cling to.

  36. Linda says...

    I’m starting a new job in September and have been feeling anxious, worried, and so unsure of myself and my capabilities even though I haven’t even started yet. It’s so strange how we pick ourselves apart for things that aren’t true, are out of our control, or are not as big of a deal as they might seem in our heads. I am so glad you posted this today, Joanna. I feel connected with everyone in this wonderful community and this week, am going to try hard to think positive thoughts and work hard on elements of my life that are actually in my immediate control :) Hope you feel better x

    • Ali says...

      I have to start a new job, too. I am feeling the exact same way. Good luck!

  37. If you flopped down on the couch next to me we’d be watching Annie Hall while I post nearly all of my furniture on craigslist, a hugely tedious task, while the list of things to get done in two weeks before I move to NYC grows and grows and grows. So in short, yeah, I’ve got that overwhelmed feeling going on too.

    Hope things slow down a bit for you!

  38. LC says...

    On one of my first dates with my husband, I had an anxiety attack in the movie theater! He had no idea but I spent almost the whole movie trying not to pass out. Curently 40 weeks and 1 day pregnant with my first child and I am waking up at 3 am a few nights a week feeling anxious. All I want to do at this point is save up my sleeps! But nope, gotta wake up and lay around feeling like I had too much coffee. Anyway, just wanted to say ditto….sounds like many have us have been there/here. Loving all these comments…am seeing some great strategies and advice.

  39. Theresa says...

    I enjoyed this post very much…the excerpt on wholeness really resonated with me…needed that today! Being a Mom of a 15 month old, working full time and trying to find “balance” leaves me feeling overwhelmed on the best days….here’s hoping the week gives you some light in the overwhelm.

  40. Shannon says...

    Oh, how did you know this was exactly what I needed today. Hence why I checked the blog to have a little break. From the quote, to your personal experience, to the cartoon, to the pic of Mindy and Danny, and lastly to the video. I laughed out loud! Hilarious. I miss my two year old and can’t wait to get home to do some modern dance with him. Even though he is currently into jumping.

  41. Giselle says...

    2015 is not my year, although it will be better in the long run but at the moment it’s draining me mentally and emotionally. And I’m a bottle-it-all-in kind of person =/ The worst thing about it all though is that I feel lonely and despite having hundreds of Facebook friends, I go for days without getting a text message from anyone. Thankfully I have my wonderful son who is such a ray of light – and I hope not to pass any of my ‘negativity’ onto him.

  42. Alisa says...

    Jo, thank you for this post. Just reading the title brought tears to my eyes (ok, maybe I’m a little emotional this week) – sometimes it’s so simply and beautifully comforting to just be asked how you’re doing! Plus, that reminder of the post on wholeness was a good one for me to read again. Just feeling our feels can be a challenge sometimes, and it’s nice to be reminded that sadness is allowed, and we’re not alone. Thanks.

  43. Laurel says...

    You probably aren’t looking for advice, since you didn’t ask for any. So if you don’t want any, stop reading!

    I’m also on the anxiety bandwagon, and have been on and off medication for a few years. Currently I am off, super pregnant and doing okay. I started meditating in the morning right after I wake up. With a toddler, I do have to wake up a bit earlier to do it but it’s very helpful. It gives me a chance to consciencely acknowledge all the stuff that pops into my head that can lead to becoming an anxious mess and then focus my thoughts on the positive.

    I’m not the most calm mother. I want to be, but my little man is 2.5 and there are times when I want to throw a bigger tantrum than he does. The meditation really helps in those moments; I remember that I can pause for a moment, take some guided, slow breaths and that things will be alright.

    Anyway, I feel for you girl. It’s a tough thing to navigate and even though you may feel alone at times, you certainly are not.

  44. Aga says...

    What has allowed me best to manage my anxiety is meditation and alternate-nostril breathing, called Nadi Pranayama: http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/breathing-techniques/alternate-nostril-breathing-nadi-shodhan
    It balances and calms the nervous systems. I do it in the morning and night but if i’m having a panic attack and I can’t actually block off one nostril at a time because i’d choke, just closing my eyes and imagining the breath going in one side and out the other for a few minutes calms my breathing and restores my heart rate. It’s the only thing that does.

    Other charm-workers are walks in the forest whenever possible and magnesium (apparently most north american women are low in it and our reserves are depleted when stressed) and pre- and/or probitiocs (more and more studies are showing the link between the gut and the brain and mind.)
    http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2014/11/07/weekly_mood_walks_are_an_antidote_to_anxiety_and_depression.html (The Washington Post and the Atlantic have more in depth articles about this but I can’t find them right now)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/04/gut-bacteria-mental-healt_n_6391014.html

    I find doctors are very quick to shove anti-anxiety and anti-depressants down my throat, but i’ve taken it upon myself to research, experiment and find alternative and natural treatments and they are infinitely better. So, i thought I’d share them in case you and/or fellow readers should find them useful.

  45. Hi Jo, sorry to hear you’re feeling blue; but as I’m also feeling a bit wonky at the moment I really appreciated that brilliant post. Here’s a funny saying you might enjoy:
    ‘In life, it’s important to remember that sometimes you’re the statue, and sometimes you’re the pigeon.’
    Emily

    • Megan Lakely says...

      I’m going to remember that! Ha!

    • Neena says...

      Ha, I’m stealing that one!

  46. Amy says...

    I’ve struggled with anxiety myself and I find that a good long run or some stand-up comedy on Netflix gives me a good release and makes the crazies go away for a while. Oh yeah, and some nice wine.

  47. All of these things apply to me, especially today. Thank you Joanna!

  48. Julie says...

    Don’t know how you feel about medication, but my therapist in college suggested that I take some for a few months just to remind my body that it was capable of feeling calm. Worked like a charm. I took Xanax and Propranolol (which is actually a blood pressure medication, but slows down your heart rate) for about six months, five years ago, and have never had to go back. Have you tried therapy?

  49. hang in there. It is the best we can all do.

    I’m having a terrible summer-my wonderful father died a month ago. I still cry every day. I’m trying to do what your mom said: be gentle to myself.

    • Emily says...

      I’m so sorry – take each day at a time.

  50. Dearest Joanna,
    I’ve been reading your blog for years and yet have never commented on anything before. Today however i am feeling The. Exact. Same. Way.
    And wondering – will this ever stop? Or are we worriers-warriors for life?
    Thank you for sharing and making me feel less alone in this.

  51. Dear Joanna,
    I’m reading your Blog for years by now, and yet have never commented on anything. I have silently enjoyed your openness about your anxieties and felt so much less alone when reading those posts. Thank you SO much!
    As for these days, i am feeling The. Exact. Same. Way.
    And wondering – will this ever stop? How do

  52. Ella says...

    I am sending you true love, and light, I understand (which I know evokes the thought ‘but no one can understand’… I also understand that) it will get better xxx

  53. Ashley says...

    I am so sorry you are having a rough time but based on your posts, it sounds perfectly reasonable due to the challenging year you have experienced.

    Have you read anything by Brene Brown? I found it helped me when I was anxious.

    I appreciate your post, it helps the rest of us feel more normal when we know we are not alone in our feelings. Big hugs to you!

  54. Tiffany says...

    You’ve linked to Ask Polly before and I always go back to her when I’m trying to remember that we’re all in this together. I read this quote today which helped me a lot: ” Remember that even reasonably happy people can turn the world into a monster funhouse mirror. You will have to learn how to identify those times when your search for a little love, a little intrigue, a little comfort may curdle into a way to beat yourself up for not being perfect.”
    I so do this and it helps so much to remember that everyone does it!

  55. Henrietta Bancsov says...

    I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while, and it’s been especially rough the past few years. I think my boyfriend (first serious relationship) is trying to understand where I come from and why I bring it onto myself. Just last night I worked up the courage to speak my mind to him about things that have been bothering me or just wanting him to understand and help comfort me through my anxiety. I’m lucky that he’s so patient and helpful when I expected him to think I’m just too emotional. My anxiety has been very bad, not because of the relationship, but because all the little thoughts and worries and voices that crawl into my head while dating. I definitely feel for you and will be keeping you in my thoughts and wish that you find a little peaceful voice to work with you!

  56. Emily says...

    I needed this today, thank you. Two nights ago my 2am thoughts were spiralling so badly that I got up and rearranged my living room furniture. In the dark. My mind is definitely asking questions these days.

    Emily
    xo

  57. Meredith says...

    Valerian helps me with the anxiety snowball when I lay down to go to sleep. It is an herb that you can get at GNC or Amazon and it helps with calming your mind down at night. You can’t take it forever, you should just use it as needed, but it did help me. Also the breathing thing…..Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathing program helps to calm things down. I tried some meds……Buspar didn’t work for me….I experienced weird shock feelings in my brain about 30 minutes after taking it, which just ended up causing more anxiety about what exactly that shock feeling was and when it would stop. Also Ativan, which I love, but can’t take long term. I think you can get a prescription for as needed and sometimes just knowing you have them keeps the anxiety monster at bay.The first time I took one (JFK airport, never flown before, flying to Munich, anxiety verging on panic and running), 20 minutes later it was like somebody flipped a switch in my head and all of the background noise (what if this, what if that, I forgot this, I didn’t say this) just shut off. Just calm. Didn’t feel drugged out….felt fine, its just all the anxiety static went away. It was awesome. And then I was annoyed because I felt like “this must be what normal people feel like all the time”. Sucks that it is addictive!

    • Ella says...

      Valarian root is my best friend though my anxiety, I keep the tablets in my bag if I ever get caught when I’m out and then at night if I feel like I need some help I will have some Valarian tea!

  58. Amy says...

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope you’re able to calm yourself down. This reminded me to take gentle care of myself as well, and reach out to friends for support.

  59. I’m sorry to hear you’re overwhelmed. I’m a bit overwhelmed myself…my first-born is starting Kindergarten. It’s definitely been ups and downs the past couple of weeks and we threw in our annual family vacation in the middle of it all, which was much-needed and wonderful. But at the same time, now I feel out-of-sorts and like I’m behind in the game. My baby is soooo excited to start Kindergarten that I can’t help but be so happy (and relieved) for him. It’s funny how kids are the stronger, braver ones sometimes, most times. I think we feed off each other – they’re reflections of how we are and vice versa. If we’re strong, they’ll be strong. If we’re scared, they’ll be scared. So I’ve been hiding my apprehension and whispering my fears so he won’t know that mommy is, truthfully, kind of sad at the thought of him growing up. It’s so bittersweet. I remember the day I dropped him off at daycare when I went back to work and today, I took a photo of him going into that same daycare for the last time. Time seriously flies. But again, knowing he’s more than ready to go on to this next chapter makes my heart burst with pride and just, love. I’m a mess of emotional contradictions, but one thing I read off Instagram today was totally on-point – so much so that I swear the universe hears your heart call sometimes. The point of the post? Just Breathe. Works every time.

  60. Karen T. says...

    Awww, sending you a hug and the fattest glass of wine…. Back to school, searching for a new house/selling the old, visiting relatives from out of state, two birthday parties to throw for my 9 year old (friend and family)–right there with ya. Instead of tackling any of it, I took my boys to the Shedd Aquarium today and now we’re eating toffee and lounging with the pups. One day at a time, right? Hang in there…

  61. Honeybee says...

    Sally Brown (of the Peanuts) once says: “daytime is so you can see where you’re going… nighttime is so you can lie in bed and worry” . – That’s me more often than I care to admit… Last night I was awake in bed worried that one of the kids could get sick when I’ll have to go to my postgraduate course. Oh, apart from the fact that I worry that everyone else on the course will be so much cleverer than me. Which brings me to another quote which I can’t repeat enough to myself: “worrying is like praying for things you don’t want.”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, haha, i love that quote. :) thank you for all these lovely comments.

  62. Teree says...

    Thanks for this today. I am a naturally anxious person and worrier. My mom is dying and I find myself swallowed up sometimes. It is just nice to, I guess, share this right now. xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so, so sorry to hear that, teree. sending you a big hug through the internet.

  63. We recently moved across the country and I’ve been jobless all summer, staying at home with the kids. Despite loving the free time and our new city, my anxiety has skyrocketed and I feel so irrational! To top it off, I’m a therapist, I should know how to handle this right?

    Well here’s what’s helped: Emotional Freedom Technique (I thought it was a little hooey too when I first saw it), visualization exercises (I like to take myself back to a time in HS when I was floating in a pool, relaxed, care free, feeling the warm summer sun on my skin), and breathing exercises of course.

    Good luck with your anxiety management! Remember, go easy on yourself!

  64. Sending you virtual hugs! (and wine!) That cartoon made me giggle. I’m not sure if you’ve read Amy Poehler’s new book, Yes Please, yet? But it’s a fun read if you’re looking for something nonchalant to read to take you out of your head :)
    I’m getting to that “very pregnant” stage (I’m 29 weeks with my second baby), and last night I had a pre-natal massage. It was lovely. Not sure if you like massages ( I can’t believe some people don’t!), but they’re always a lovely way to relax and something fun to look forward to in the time leading up to it. <3 take care of yourself. xoxox

  65. I have to laugh…I’m reading this as my husband and my father are at our local bank and my dad is signing the power of attorney that will allow me to deal with his finances going forward (since we’re basically providing 75% of his financial support so he can stay in assisted living; he is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s). I too have anxiety all day every day. General, specific, you name it. Right now my main worry is that we won’t have resources when we’re older (see above), but at the same time, I’m grateful that I can help my dad out right now.

    Through the years (I’m 52 now) I’ve learned not to beat myself up because I’m anxious. That just makes the spiral worse. My husband once commented that my anxiety can be positive–i.e., when it takes the form of anticipatory worry and therefore planning against a problem. Maybe yours is also useful?

    And then there’s Winston Churchill…don’t forget, “When you’re going through hell, keep going!”

    Hugs and a glass of wine to you.

  66. Twyla says...

    Have you heard of EFT? It’s pretty simple and involves tapping on your acupuncture points on the meridians of your body. There’s some good tutorials on YouTube. It’s very helpful for people with phobias and I’ve found it very helpful for my anxiety. I also love the phrase “Don’t believe everything you think.” Hugs to you!

    • Megan says...

      I use EFT when I have anxious thoughts! It’s great. I like Brad Yates on YouTube. He has a video for everything.

  67. Hi Joanna,
    I’m 42 and I suffer from GAD too. I have tried different medicines, from Zoloft to Ativan, and different “natural” medicines too. I have to tell you that 8 months ago my doctor advised me to try the medication, Buspar. She said there are barely any side effects at all and you don’t even need to be weaned off it. It is the absolute mildest anxiety medication and it’s old school. I wasn’t sure about it because I couldn’t imagine taking a medication 3 times a day. But it wears off fairly quickly, which is why you have to do that. I also eat all organic and try to live a clean and healthy lifestyle so I wasn’t excited about putting chemicals in my body. But I went online and researched Buspar and it really seemed to help some people. One person said to absolutely give it a good 6 weeks and then you will truly see the difference. So I said OK, I’ll try it and now I take it 3 times a day. I started out taking way less than the recommended dose but it really helped anyway. Then 3 months in it seemed to stop working. So I put it up to the recommended dose and it began working for me again.
    I’m telling you about this because nothing has helped with my GAD more than this, and I have been looking for help and dealing with it seriously since my 20’s. I wish my doctor had put me on this back when I was in my 20’s instead of Zoloft, which was awful for me as I often experience all the yucky side effects with medications. This medication makes life good/normal again. It is awful to be constantly sick. The Buspar also got rid of all my headaches. So, there you go. I hope this helps or at least offers a viable option. I don’t even feel like I suffer from GAD anymore, I just have to treat it each day and it stays away from me now so I can actually function and live my life how I want to. There is nothing worse than not enjoying the best days of your life.

  68. Jessica says...

    Joanna, I am so totally there with you. Sometimes I just can’t get my mind off of the never-ending anxiety train. Thank you for such honest posts that remind me that I am not alone.

  69. Thanks, as always, for your honesty. One day some time ago, my husband and I had traveled to my in-laws’ house about 45 minutes away. I mentioned, once there, that I was afraid I’d left my straightener on…more than being a little itch in the back of my mind, I was envisioning coming home to our apartment burning down (with our cat inside!!!!) Silly, maybe, but these are the kinds of places anxious thoughts can take you.

    My mother-in-law said something so simple–trite, even–but it’s made a difference in how I respond to my thoughts. She said, “You know, there’s not much you can do about it now. Don’t go borrowing trouble, since you’ll have enough trouble just handed to you.” For things big and small, I stop sometimes and consider if I’m simply spinning my wheels by worrying (assuming I can’t do anything to change the situation), and if so, I remind myself, sometimes 10 times, not to go borrowing trouble, since I’ll have enough just handed to me. It’s a simple way for me to refocus and pull myself out of the vortex that can be my thoughts :)

  70. Haylie says...

    Dude, I have never been more overwhelmed than I am this summer. I’m writing my dissertation, getting ready to teach my first class, and preparing for the academic job market (Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here). On my worst days, I feel like a particularly self-loathing hamster on a wheel. But on my best days, I realize that all my hard work this summer actually *has* brought good things to fruition. I’ve accomplished a lot, and so have you! Lord knows why we can’t see it sometimes, so let me assure you: you’re doing great. I’m such a fan. xoxox

    • Ali says...

      My husband is just starting a tenure-track position after over two years on the market. It is a hard road, but I am so, so happy to see him doing what he loves. The university is super supportive and all worked out for the best. Good luck to you.

  71. Allie says...

    I too struggle with anxiety, as does my mom. Her mantra has always been “this too shall pass”…. I think of that phrase during the throws of a full-blown panic/anxiety attack and more often than not it helps. It will pass, and tomorrow will be a new day (hopefully without the anxiety :)!

  72. Leah says...

    Amen, sister. ;-)

  73. I hear ya, girl! I don’t know how you do it. I’m too tired to do much of anything most days. 2 kids under 4, husband at work at least 10 hrs a day, animals, farm, hot as hades out, to do list longer than my arm.
    Up at 4, in bed by 10 if I’m lucky with no time to myself. 6 hours is not enough for me.
    I love to quote you found on Pinterest. By the end of the day (or 9am) I’m too tired to have any spiraling thoughts!

  74. That comic is so me! Every time I leave a conversation with someone I walk away in total anxiety and regret that I said the wrong things, or should have said something differently, or that I sounded stupid. I let it totally steal all the thoughts in my mind for way too long. I have to always remind myself to let it go, that it’s over. I hope you feel better soon, and I love that you are honest with us because A LOT of us feel the same ways. xo

  75. Cj says...

    I’m feeling overwhelmed too, right there with you. I would suggest most any book from Thich Nhat Hanh (Peace is every breath is a good place to start); his writing gives me perspective. I also use a short meditation at night I found on INTO THE GLOSS: How to meditate; guaranteed to calm you. Hope you feel better soon : )

  76. Jessica says...

    Always so nice to read this true post! Thank you for sharing your feelings and knowing that we are always together in this! xoxo

  77. I am right there with you on the over analyzing conversations and anxiety over nothing in particular. Today I am feeling overwhelmed because I really needed to go to the grocery store (or wanted to?) but my car is apparently having a nervous breakdown so now I’m stuck at home trying to pretend to be productive or fun but mostly just running hypotheticals through my mind about what could be wrong with the car and how much it’s going to cost us.

  78. Madeline says...

    This post really spoke to me…so happy to know I am not alone :)

  79. Sheila says...

    I’m struggling lately too! We have a clinical psychologist that contracts with my office and I met with him last Friday. He didn’t tell me anything that I don’t already know, but it was a good reminder that I need to do the following: find a therapist, eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, try meditating, and take time off from work. Easier said than done sometimes, but it’s possible. Hugs to you Joanna, and to anyone else going through a rough patch.

  80. TootieMcBear says...

    My anxiety would present itself at night. I couldn’t fall asleep because of a racing mind. And even if I did fall asleep, if one of my small children woke up, I could never find sleep again because of worry and stress. I can’t tell you what a 3g melatonin pill has done for my life. There is now no door for the anxiety monster to enter. That, and good prayer as soon as I turn out the light. I hope you find relief and I will say a prayer for you tonight.

  81. Your posts are always so timely. I’m a part-time lawyer with two kids under 3 who has been working full-time hours for the past 3 months. I’m constantly exhausted and about to hit a wall. The kids can take care of themselves, but what about my poor abandoned blog? (Kidding!)

    http://www.afriendlyharbor.com

  82. Anonymous says...

    Hi Jo! Thanks for being honest! I have been struggling with a few things the past few years, being miserable in my job, being stressed about money, and infertility. (for the record your blog is always a bright spot in my days!). I did find out that I had a thyroid issue which could affect how I handled everything, since I went on meds I feel a little more peaceful . Anyway, have you ever seen a therapist or a counselor? My counselor gives me great visuals to focus on that help, such as “just focus on one piece of the pizza at a time, not the whole pie.” Anyway, I hope you know you are not alone, I am right there worrying with you (and then worrying about how much I worry! LOL) Take Care!

  83. bridget says...

    I don’t generally comment, though I’m an avid reader. Just wanted to say thank you for your honesty. If I were there, I’d give you a big hug and we could have a good cry together! Anxiety can feel like a really isolating downward spiral. I go through periods where it’s almost debilitating, and it’s been pretty bad lately, as I’ve had some hard life circumstances come up that have brought me to my knees. I came across this blog post a couple weeks ago that I’ve read time and time again; it has a great message whether you’re spiritual or not: http://www.feelingsandfaith.net/not-everything-happens-for-a-reason/

  84. R says...

    You always post exactly what I need to see at just the right time! I’m feeling overwhelmed right now too, with relationship problems (ugh), impostor syndrome at work, starting a new graduate school venture/internship, and, well, general life stuff (money, diet, etc.). I’m also about to have a birthday next week, so I’m feeling extra existential lately :) A couple things that have helped are breathing exercises (simple inhalation through the nose and exhalation through the mouth), and that Grand Canyon trick you posted a long time ago! Also, I am not a religious person really, but I think to myself, “God is only giving me what I can handle”, and that seems to put my mind at ease, if only for a short while. Every little bit helps. Good luck!

  85. Jessica says...

    Just to echo all the other comments – thank you for sharing these genuine moments. It is amazing the community of people who come out of the woodwork and share the ‘me tos’ and their own tips and tricks and beautiful words of wisdom. I needed this today!

  86. Heidi says...

    Yes and yes. Thank you for words it made my day.

  87. Colleen says...

    I find summer anxiety provoking – change of routine, different schedules, long lists of wonderful things to do (its summer, everything is wonderful!) but there is only so much time in one day and in one life people. It used to bother me much more but I’ve learned a lot more about listening to myself. I have a habit of comparing myself and being disappointed in what I’ve achieved so far compared to say someone like Barak Obama, but then looking at the other side of the coin and congratulating myself on where I am, what I’ve done, the differences I’ve made and really focusing on loving where I’m at. Do I really want to be one of those people? No. If I did, I’d be there.

  88. This really spoke to me– I also struggle with anxiety and have times when it’s really overwhelming. One thing that helps me is just to recognize that I’m having a particularly anxious moment, and then to stop and breathe slowly– I take a deep breath in, and then try to “blow out the birthday candles” when I exhale. It sounds silly, but it really works and helps me to calm down and clear my head.

    Keep your head up– I and so many others appreciate and value you. xo

  89. Marianne says...

    I started experiencing anxiety and depression for the first time of my life this spring. And I have to say, that in the middle of a very confusing time for me, you and your blog are always so uplifting to me. The way you are being so honest, so hopeful and just so true is very comforting somehow. So keep on being you!

    What I have found helps me a lot is mainly these three things:
    1. I work on not allowing myself to worry so much. Whenever a worrying thought enters my mind I ask: “Is this urgent and something I need to be addressing right now?” Usually the answer is no, and I have to postpone thinking about it. My worry time is on the bus to work in the mornings. So when I’m on the bus I pick up the thoughts and think them through. Usually the little time that has passed makes the thought not seem so urgent anymore. And strangely, sitting there on the bus, moving forward, watching other passengers come and go, it’s far easier to have a more detached approach to the worries.
    2. Exercise. I can1t believe it, but I exercise many times a week now. It relaxes me immensely. Jogging is almost meditative, focusing on running makes it very hard focusing on much else. I have also started doing yoga.
    3. Time spent alone by myself every day. Like you I have two small boys, and finding time to be alone isn’t always easy. But sometimes all I need is fifteen minutes. Or half an hour on the bed reading a few chapters in a book. Or taking a bath.

    Well, it takes time to find out what works and I’m sure you have plenty great strategies already – just thought I’d share, since you so generously share advice yourself.

    I wish you all the best!

  90. Maggie says...

    Hi Joanna! I hope you’re feeling better!

    I struggle with the same issue. It’s one of the reasons (out of 10000000+) I love your blog. It’s a comfort to know I am not alone.

    For me, it has been helpful to try to bring everything back to NOW (still working on this :P). Not then and not the future but this very moment. Or writing out my anxieties over and over as well as why they are unfounded. Sometimes thinking through them makes it worse.

    I love that quote! My friend just sent me this: “What are the most powerful words in the universe? The ones you use to talk to yourself.”

    When all else fails, an episode of 30 Rock or a walk can do the trick!

  91. Dee says...

    Really loved that quote. Life is funny man. All the ups and downs. Hope things turn around for you and you get the answers your looking for.

  92. Joke says...

    not having the best of days, at all… Frustration galore. Work. My girl. Renovations. This post helped, I’m not alone.

  93. Amy says...

    I wouldn’t say in the grand scheme of things I experience enormous amounts of stress, but in the last year I there have been tougher things to walk through than before. Along with a bit of counselling to work through emotional issues and relationships, I turned to yoga for my physical well being. I normally like to run but I needed something soothing that could push me as well. I find it is helpful to slow me down. To breathe.
    I love that quote you posted. I am definitely the worst with what I say. I kick myself all the time for the things that pop out of my mouth.

  94. Angie says...

    I get you. I’m highly sensitive and prone to anxiety. Worse than that, is my son (age 5) has inherited these traits. Now I worry about that, too. I wanted better for him than these struggles, though there is beauty in being highly sensitive. He reminds me of that.

  95. i was telling my husband last night at dinner that my commute to/from work gives me time to think. like, 40 minutes to think and lately they’ve been angry thoughts. i go through bouts of absolute fury when i think about my family and my general disdain for them, and i think about all the ways and things i could say to them to make them feel as horrible as they made me feel growing up. but when i am with him, or with my friends, i don’t feel or think these things, at least not with such ferocity.
    he, having been to a therapist before, thinks i should see one, if at least to put into words these emotions and to see if what i’m feeling has any adverse impact on how i run my life day to day.

    i’ve also been thinking a lot about menopause, even though i’m only 37.

  96. May says...

    Good question.
    Bravery like yours, saying you have anxiety, helps change the prejudice towards anxiety sufferers. Thank you!
    How I managed all those years, kids, work, and such is heartbreaking when I think about the pain. Decades later, empty nest, near recluse, anxiety hurts as much, but not as often, and not with the same shame. Diverting my attention away for the worry, fear, anxiety has become a skill as well developed as my use of the f-word, for people that ridicule those with the illness.
    The baby leading the dance studio is adorable!
    I hope Mindy Kayling gets married this year!

  97. Julianna says...

    Have you tried meditation? I’ve heard its wonderful but need to actually do it myself haha :|

  98. Maryse says...

    **virtually opens a big tub of icecream, grabs a blanket and joins you on the couch** I feel you. I’m in a major job funk, its affecting my self confidence and although I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I do not feel at place in the job I’d always thought I wanted, the fact that I have no clue whatsoever what on earth I do want now scares me. Bluch. Your blog is the greatest. I get really excited everytime I see a new post pop-up.

    • Emma says...

      I’m chiming in with some solidarity- I finally got the job I’ve been studying and working for for years, and now I’ve realized I hate it and don’t have any clue what to do next! Some days I repeat to myself- just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

  99. Caroline says...

    Wise words and just the ones I needed to read today :) Thank you Joanna and hope you find some relief today.

  100. A friend of my dad’s, who is also a Pulitzer Prize novelist (so he’s no dummy), once told him “Treat your mind like a bad neighborhood. Never go in there alone”.
    When I lay down at night and my thoughts start to wander to all the dumb/embarrassing/lame things I’ve ever done in my entire life, I try to really concentrate on my breathing. I’ll time my breaths to match my heart beats. Breathing in for four beats, then out for six (for about five minutes) really helps me relax and drift off. Try it!

  101. Emily says...

    That Hurston quote is perfect for me right now. I couldn’t sleep the past two nights because of my racing thoughts and worries! Thanks for this post.

  102. Joanna, just remember this too will pass:) I also highly highly recommend the http://www.artofliving.org ‘s weekend programs where they teach you breathing and meditation techniques. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has helped me. In fact, what has it not helped me with is the question. Ha!

  103. I used to worry ALL the time, but as I’ve become older and with my yoga learnings, I am so much better at “being.”

    My son is a worrier and I put this quote over his bed:

    “Worrying doesn’t take away tomorrow’s troubles.
    It takes away today’s peace.”

    Hope this is helpful xoxoxo

  104. Alyssa Leister says...

    I have been feeling the same way lately. I suffer with anxiety a lot and while its usually worse in the winter, this summer it’s been a fierce companion. I’ve been doing my best to talk through it some trusted friends, but ultimately I tend to have my head spin and spin and pray it goes away.

    Sending hugs to you <3

  105. Meghan says...

    Oh, Joanna. My baby girl just turned 1, and it was the most anxious year of my life. I only now feel as though I’m coming out of that fog, in part because I am giving myself permission to feel whatever I am feeling in the moment. Stressed out? OK! Feeling overwhelmed? All right! I think the best thing we anxious people can do is to give ourselves a break. It will pass — it always does.

    • Colleen says...

      I had horrible anxiety with my daughter, horrible. It got better as she got older and more independent. I found the responsibility to be overwhelming. She’s an only child for a variety of reasons, that being a major one as well as my grief over how my relationship with my husband changed when we became parents. Now she’s almost 9 and I enjoy her so much more than I did when she was so very little.

  106. Lana says...

    I’m hugging my kids more than usual on days like this and count little blessings whenever I can. Sometimes it really takes a lot of effort to remember how happy I actually am.

  107. Have you ever thought of getting yourself on anxiety meds, rather than suffer through it constantly? It was life changing for me. But talking about your anxiety won’t cure it. It’s a chemical thing, usually. Wouldn’t you rather not have it an issue? so curious.

    • jaclyn says...

      I’ll chime in and vote plus 1 for meds, too.

      I finally broke down and got a prescription for xanax a few years ago and only *needed* to take it once and since then I’ve taken it preemptively (before travel or a stressful meeting with my boss) but generally speaking, just knowing I have this magic little pill that can make it all go away if it gets to be too much, has very seriously helped me cut back on my anxiety attacks.

      Also, I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to see a psychiatrist but there could be other factors at play with your worrisome thoughts. My husband was actually diagnosed with OCD in his late 20’s when he went to see a new psychiatrist about his usual lifelong issue of anxious thoughts. OCD isn’t always frantic hand washing and light swith tapping, it can also manifest in obsessive thoughts…if you find yourself concentrating on one thought over and over and it just escalates to such a seemingly huge ordeal it could be OCD. It was so eye opening for him to have this new diagnosis that also came with a completely different set of coping mechanisms. He literally went from getting taken off a flight for having a violent panic attack to 7 years later, he flies ALONE with no meds anymore, even flew to Beijing from Boston totally fine.

  108. L E says...

    I hear you. I have a 3 year old and a 9 month old and some new social anxiety to deal with. Everything seems so much more difficult at the moment. Everyday stuff is now so draining. So much fun, but so exhausting!

  109. That comic perfectly sums up how I felt on Sunday night. I didn’t get any sleep at all because I was so worried about this coming week. The weird thing was that when I drove to work on Monday morning I suddenly felt a million times better, and I’m thinking it was just because I got out of the house, as simple as that sounds. I’ve even found lately that I work better when I’m in a public place like a public library or even my desk at work, but I never get any solid work done when I’m at home. Maybe it’s just because all our inhibitions come out when we’re home and as we process everything we just get caught up and carried away? When I get that feeling I’ve noticed that I’m usually holding my breath, hah, so I try to do deep breathing (“in through the nose, out through the mouth”) which is actually way more effective than it sounds. But yeah, the silence of being in bed at night is sometimes the absolute worst for worriers!

  110. jen says...

    That video is both hilarious and touching! And did that baby cut one at the end?

  111. Annie says...

    I’m in the anxiety club too :) Have you tried journaling? It has really helped me. Somehow, just writing down your fears and worries on paper releases them a little bit, or at least makes you see that you are probably over-thinking everything and need to calm the eff down :) Thanks for sharing. It’s so good for people to be open about this and I commend you for it.

  112. Georgina says...

    Ugh, I’ve been having a bad time too recently – nothing major, just starting new jobs and finishing my thesis and wondering why I’ve spent the last three years trying to enter what might be the worst-paid profession in the world when I want to stay living in London. I have an anxiety disorder too, and although it’s only very specific things that I have a problem with dealing with, and Im so much better at dealing with it now, I’ve been finding it harder to control recently. Sometimes I wonder if it will always be this hard just to RELAX and be happy. I’m aware that that sounds melodramatic and not a little self-pitying, and I’m fine really. But it’s nice to be able to express it sometimes, so THANK YOU.

  113. Kate says...

    I don’t know if this will help, but I’ve always found that summer is the worst time for anxiety (as someone who suffers pretty badly with it). I put it down to a combination of heat, bright light and disruption to regular routine. Anecdotally, I’ve heard that other anxiety sufferers experience this seasonal issue as well.

    It’s awful. A good counsellor/therapist can be hugely helpful at times when even being kind to yourself doesn’t work any more.

    Sending you good wishes.

  114. Kristin says...

    I really appreciate how open these posts are. I’ve struggled with anxiety probably all of my life, and although I’ve come far in learning how to handle my anxious thoughts, I still have days (or weeks) that feel particularly anxiety-filled. I’m in my mid-twenties and am unhappy at my current job, but I’m not quite sure where to go next. The uncertainty has been causing quite a bit of anxiety recently.

  115. Wow this post was timely. I’m having an awful stressful month for a variety of reasons. I know I’m doing everything I can to fix the issues, but there’s so much out of my control so I just spend time worrying about it, which is getting me nowhere. Thank you for this post (and that video!)

  116. Linsey says...

    Today is not a great day. I don’t geneally comment on your blog even though I’m an avid reader of it, but felt compelled today. I hear you is all I am saying! Thank you for posting and making me feel a little less alone! X

  117. Dee says...

    I have generalized anxiety disorder too! For the first time in my life I’m seeing a psychiatrist and seriously considering taking medication. I’ve been like this for so many years and haven’t been able to make very much headway on it, at all. Doesn’t help that I’m moving, underemployed, and striving to find balance/structure/meaning in my life. In my 20s. In NYC.

    Thanks for sharing what you’re going through. It’s always helpful to hear this kind of thing :)
    xox

    • Hey Dee!

      So I’m also in my 20’s, underpaid, and confused about literally everything in life. I was diagnosed with GAD and my psych at the time prescribed me medicine for it (Xanax). I would HIGHLY recommend avoiding medication if possible. Trust me, I’m usually the first to rely on western medicine to cure any aches/pains, but Xanax was terrible. It pretty much puts you on a high when you take it (and yeah you feel suuuuper relaxed and great) but then you totally crash and feel depressed and all the more anxious.

      Just wanted to warn a fellow Jo reader :) Obviously, this might not be the case for you but I have been told by other doctors that it’s pretty common with Xanax. Not sure about other meds though.

  118. Thanks for this post! I know how you feel – my anxiety is so much worse when I’m alone. I need people around to distract me from anxious thoughts. Also, that video is great. I showed my mom and we both started cracking up :)

    -Nicole
    Meet Me in Midtown

  119. Annie R says...

    I’ve been having a lot of anxieties and weird emotions in August too and then my friend shared THIS article with me! I found it super interesting and 100% accurate. August always gives me terrible anxiety. I’ve been out of school for 6 years now, but this month always has that “transition-y” feel to it, even though nothing has changed in my life for years now. Check it out, it’s not only really interesting but it also helps validate your feelings :)

    https://www.yahoo.com/health/why-august-gives-us-all-the-feels-126101216942.html

  120. Anitra says...

    We’re building a house, closing in 2 weeks, my daughter is going to Kindergarten in a week, I’m my sisters maid of honor, I’m planning our company’s huge annual event and I’m currently under the covers reading blogs and trying to pretend I’m not an adult today! Pretty sure I want to just say screw it, we’re off to the lake for the day! Thanks for the post Jo!

  121. Caroline says...

    I have social anxiety and this year has been one of those years that “asks questions.” I just thought I’d share my little tips I use for clearing my mind, that are completely made up and super silly, but have really helped me. If I have too many thoughts running through my head and can start to feel the anxiety building, here are some things I do.

    1. Say goosfraba. I picture writing the word “goosfraba” (from the Adam Sandler movie Anger Management) letter by letter, and every time my mind wanders and starts to think of something else, I make myself start over. I do this until I can get through the entire word without thinking about anything else. Slowly but surely, I can get those racing thoughts down from 100 at a time, to maybe 2 or 3. Also yes, I realize choosing a word from an Adam Sandler movie is entirely silly.

    2. I picture trains running on tracks, with one train in the center and a bunch on either side. Each one is a train of thought (I’m so clever). Then I picture the trains on the outside tracks diverting away from the main train, one by one. Every time one turns away, a troubling thought leaves with it, until I am left with just one thing to worry about, which I think is a fair, acceptable amount of worry.

    3. I build a salad. Or a soup, or a pizza. If my mind is racing, I stop thinking of all the things worrying me, and I just start to imagine building a salad. I decide a base (arugula, usually), and think about what combination of fruits, nuts, etc. I want to add to it. There’s something about choosing ingredients that takes all of my concentration, but in a fun way. And picturing salad never makes me hungry like picturing chicken wings would, so it’s a pretty safe bedtime practice. Also, it gives you a reservoir of salad ideas that rivals that of Gwyneth Paltrow.

    4. I watch Gilmore Girls. That’s it, I just watch Gilmore Girls and everything seems a little better.

    I hope these help you or anyone else who might be having an especially anxiety-ridden month. I think we all have our secret ways of dealing with anxiety, and I love hearing other people’s rituals!

    • Kara says...

      These are great, thank you!! I love the idea of building a salad in my head. :)

  122. Kate says...

    Lately I’ve been thinking of that John Steinbeck quote:

    “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

    There is so much pressure to do everything right now and perfectly, and it is so easy to get so overwhelmed that I just freeze. I have a long way to go but I am getting better at allowing myself time and space to grow and change and improve. Life is long, it is a process and as long as you are moving you are doing alright : )

  123. Yup, yup, yup. I’m overwhelmed, and annoyed since I know I brought on a lot of it myself, but then pissed that I’m not being more kind to myself!! Ha. I am always appreciative when blogs I follow keep it real. Thank you for this post.

  124. Amy says...

    I love both of these Mary Oliver poems in the comment section. xxx And I LOVE your blog because of your honesty. Thank you for today’s post. I am feeling completely overwhelmed and am trying really hard to deal with my anxiety through meditation, yoga and exercise

  125. Tyler says...

    Yes, Jo! Thank you for the timely post. Feeling way overwhelmed myself. Thank you for always sharing so honestly, it truly sets you and your blog apart.

  126. Megan says...

    Being gentle with yourself is a hard thing to do sometimes so I like to use this ‘trick’… what would you say to a friend that came to you with the exact same thoughts you’re having? generally we treat others more gently than we treat ourselves, whether it’s having high expectations of yourself or suffering from anxiety and non-constructive spiraling thought patterns, we are excellent at supporting others through those moments, but less so with our own souls. so be gentle and kind to yourself, treat yourself like a dear friend.

  127. Thanks Joanna for being so honest, all of us feel this way I assure you. Me being the first! I don’t like it when my husband falls asleep before me cos my thoughts run wild if sleep doesnt find me. I think of my father who passed away last year, I compare myself to my peers, I think of my mum whom I left in Singapore to marry my French husband, I worry about health in general, then I make another round of all these topics and feel thoroughly depressed! But when I wake up, I feel positive and great. I once read a quote which said being positive takes a lot of effort and I know that to be true.
    And you know what? Your blog improves my mood every morning !:) It is the one blog I read everyday for the past 7 years :) Thank you for posting about your feelings! Sending you a hug xoxo
    Jasmine

  128. Heather says...

    Here are some things that have helped me with my GAD:

    (1) stay off facebook for a day or two
    (2) consider cutting back on caffeine until this spell passes
    (3) consider a magnesium supplement, like the calm magnesium fizzy drink you can get on Amazon. This has changed my life.
    (4) make fresh air, sunshine, and exercise a priority every day
    (5) forgive yourself for feeling anxious. I used to get so mad at myself when I’d waste a perfect moment feeling anxious. And then someone suggested to me one time that I just accept that sometimes I’m going to feel anxiety, even when the environment has all the ingredients for happiness or peace, and I should just appreciate whatever I can about the moment and let that be enough.

    You’re doing great.

  129. Kate says...

    I am living that super fun 20s underemployment life and this summer has been rough. Trying to be healthy and responsible and work towards my goals, while also trying to live in the moment and enjoy these years. A struggle. Always appreciate your posts on balance. So nice to have a reminder that everyone struggles at every stage. We are all just trying. xx

    • Jackie says...

      Can I just tell you that I am in exactly the same spot. It’s been a rough summer and I’m just trying to stay positive and focused on the end goal. Sending best wishes your way, you aren’t alone!

  130. Sarah says...

    Your reminder has become my reminder…

    You do not have to be good.
    You do not have to walk on your knees
    For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body
    love what it loves.
    Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
    Meanwhile the world goes on.
    Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
    are moving across the landscapes,
    over the prairies and the deep trees,
    the mountains and the rivers.
    Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
    are heading home again.
    Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
    the world offers itself to your imagination,
    calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
    over and over announcing your place
    in the family of things.

    take care, joanna xoxo

    • Lana says...

      so beautiful. I really needed to read this today. Thank you!

    • I needed this today. thank you

  131. illana says...

    Oh Joanna, I hear you!! My meditation teacher, Sylvia Boorstein, says that she thinks people are born with a certain temperament, and she was born of a long line of worriers. It gives me hope since i think I was too, because she has practiced to be less so, over time. (Love her, she has some great books, and her talks are online at dharmaseed.org if you would like to hear one anytime – I find they are very centering in the moment and, hopefully, they help build equanimity along the way!) I have to talk myself down from those worst-case-scenarios often!

    Also, lately I’ve turned to this amazing Mary Oliver poem that Glennon posted a few weeks ago. Sending it to you today in hopes it will offer you a little peace as it does me.
    –illana

    I Worried

    I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
    flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
    as it was taught, and if not how shall I correct it?

    Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
    can I do better?

    Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
    can do it and I am, well, hopeless.

    Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
    am I going to get rheumatism, lockjaw, dementia?

    Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
    And gave it up. And took my old body
    and went out into the morning, and sang.

    –Mary Oliver

  132. ashley says...

    sending hugs right back at you jo!

    also, in regard to anxiety, have you ever tried meditating? i’m not a therapist, but i am a frequent meditator, and it does wonders in regards to helping you control/detach from your thoughts.

    • YES! Meditation. It has done amazing things when I’m feeling anxious, and in every day life when I’m at work, or driving, or whatever and an anxious thought comes to mind… I can detach MUCH MUCH easier using what I’ve learned through meditation.

  133. Yes to all of this. Everything feels like too much to handle lately. I don’t feel stressed; it’s something different than that. I’m not sure what, though.

  134. sarah says...

    love toothpaste for dinner! (the site the comic is from.) so great.

  135. Anna says...

    Take a look at Kelly Rae Roberts’s latest Instagram post: https://instagram.com/p/6gGxyKq0kI/

    It doesn’t fix everything by any means, but mindfulness and gratitude can do a lot to help me feel more grounded, connected, and at peace. Sending love and gentle thoughts your way!

  136. Katie says...

    Thank you for being so incredibly genuine. So many of my (former) favorite blogs these days are becoming too commercialized. Everything is sponsored, and the moments of common connection seem to be getting foggier by the day. I’m comforted by knowing that Cup of Jo will always offer something consistently honest and present. Because of that, you can have your sponsored posts because they are always backed and surrounded by sincerity, honesty, humor, and warmth. Thank you!

    • Michelle says...

      I totally agree! I’m actually more likely to buy something that is sponsored or recommended because I trust you more! Actually pretty crazy how much I do what you say when we haven’t even met ☺

  137. Katherine says...

    I woke up feeling exactly like this today. Overwhelmed, and letting my thoughts get the best of me. Reading this post is just what I needed. It feels really good to find out, “Oh hey, somebody else is feeling these things too. And maybe that means you’re both going to be ok.” Thanks for sharing.

  138. Katie says...

    Oyyy… today is not a great one! Work lately has been very unsatisfying, I also just got word today that a co-worker’s wife had a miscarriage, and I realized I’d lost one of the diamond’s in my engagement band, which belonged to my husband’s beloved grandmother. I saw the missing spot where the diamond used to sit as I was using the bathroom (sexy, no?) and burst into tears. I never got to meet his grandmother, but I just felt so honored to be able to wear her diamond band and taking care of it is so important to me and… wahhhh! :'( It is insured, and we can get it fixed. It just made me so sad. You know, there’s something about the end of summer… an angst-y, anxious kind of feeling tends to fill me where I know the season will be turning soon and I just feel kind of fried all over. Even though the Michigan winters here can be brutal, I start to crave the cozy, slowed down pace of winter. We just have to roll up our sleeves and keep on a-goin’!

  139. Cindy says...

    The end of summer is a killer for me. I’ve finally learned to anticipate my August funk and to be more generous with myself this time of year.

    Also, Mindy Kaling is awesome. I loved the link to her confidence article last week.

    Also, Tig Nataro! I watched her documentary the night you recommended it and thought afterwards, “This has been one of the most meaningful uses of 90 minutes I’ve experienced.” Thanks for the rec!

    • Summer ALWAYS brings on a funk for me! I’m much happier even in the winter, go figure. I feel like summer comes with so much pressure… “GO HAVE FUN NOW WHILE YOU CAN!” and like, “Everyone is at a cottage but me, they’re LOVING summer! Summer yayyyy!” and I’m like, “but ugh. I hate sweating, and bug bites, and sunburns…” haha. Plus it doesn’t help that summer brings on the ONLY time of year when I suffer from sinus pressure and stuff head/discomfort. Also this article felt really validating to me:
      http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/when-summer-is-depressing/375327/

    • Completely agree! Augustxiety always hits hard, and I always thought I was alone with it. That Atlantic article is on point. It is kind of like January anxiety-the holidays, or in this case, summer, is winding down, and you’re not sure what you’re looking forward to next. Thanks for the encouraging post :)

  140. Joanna, your posts about anxiety are my favorite and so helpful, as I struggle with mind racing & what-if thoughts daily. I remember you writing awhile back about your twenties being confusing and a struggle and your thirties being relatively smoother sailing. I hope this is the case! I seem to get caught up in trying to come to some decision in regards to my “career path”, relationship and every aspect of my life all the time, when I know I should be patient and let things unfold as they may. It helps to know there’s a kindred mind out there :) Thanks for always writing such thoughtful posts!

  141. Anon Today says...

    This is been a super hard year and today I’m having a tough time feeling happy for the success of others when I feel like I’ve lost so much this year. Digging really deep to try to find true happiness for others and gratitude for the things that are going right in my own life.

  142. Lisa says...

    Thanks for this post. Sorry you’re feeling this way. I share the anxiety issue with you, particularly since I’ve become a mom. He’s four now, which has been rough (so much whining and stubbornness). Everyone always says infants are the hardest (and I don’t disagree about the lack of sleep), but I now long for those sweet days. And then there’s work… How is that everyone else is having an awesome summer with exciting vacations, while I actually have work to do?! Take care.

    • L says...

      I wonder the same thing all the time… How does anyone have time have all those vacations? I mean I have to work, and when I’m not at work there’s housework, yardwork etc etc etc!

    • D says...

      Lisa,

      I cannot tell you how grateful I was to read your reply. I have a daughter who just turned five and I can honestly say that this past year was the hardest by far. Everything is a battle of wills! And I agree, I found that my anxiety level grew exponentially after becoming a mother. So I thank you for your post – its nice to know I’m not the only one feeling this way!

  143. Amy C says...

    I needed this virtural hug today. The only way to describe this week (and it is only Tuesday!!!!) is overwhelming. Pass the wine, please.

  144. S D says...

    I am convinced that the world is experiencing some wild times right now. I’m normally very calm, and in tune with my surroundings, and I feel so frayed lately too. Like there’s no other way to be. Disconnected from almost every avenue of my life, work, kids, marriage, not disconnected in the way that it’s not working, but nothing, absolutely nothing feels like its moving along as it was only a year ago, or at least making progress to become better in any way. Too many irons in the fire? Too much chaos? I keep wanting to go out into nature thinking it will solve my issues, but… it’s not working!!! Maybe the whole planet is in flux, and “it’s just a phase!” Good luck Joanna… I’m right there with you.

  145. Abbie says...

    It helps me to actually acknowledge to myself “these are just the feelings I am having RIGHT NOW and that is okay because sometimes I don’t feel as great as other times.” If I can remember to do that, (easier some days than others) it gives me a little bit of space to breathe and remember it doesn’t always feel so overwhelming.

    Big hugs right back to you.

    • YES! I tell myself almost the exact same thing. Also, “Don’t believe everything you think.” that one gets me through rough times too. Your body and mind can’t (and shouldn’t) be 100% peaceful all the time- variety (even with emotions and thoughts, even when they’re stupid/pointless) is the spice of life ;)

    • jaclyn says...

      My anxiety presents itself in more of a sudden panic rather than a gradual buildup so I just try to remind myself that if these feelings can START suddenly then they can END suddenly too.

      Then I just try to ride it out like a tide. It can be hard to do in the moment but it’s so important to trust that there will be an upswing at some point and you’ll land on top.

  146. Emma says...

    If I were next to you on that couch, I would reply with a sigh, and “oh, man. me too.” Thank you for your beautiful words and kind, gentle perspective. Makes it far easier to be gentle with myself.