I have never really shared my experience with anxiety and stress but it is real and it is chaos alive. Shortness of breath, tight chest, chest pains on the left side of my chest, feeling overwhelmed and feeling like every thing is too much. Those are feelings of anxiety and stress and they are different in everyone. I have this stress muscle and sometimes when it’s in action, it flexes and it’s just a natural flex; it happens on its own and has a reaction all its own.
It all began when I moved to San Francisco and money was extremely tight, so much so that my dad had to fly me back to Indiana after six months of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The next time of stress for me was about three years later when I was a personal banker. This is when I began having major panic/anxiety attacks. It went something like this: A man stood at my desk yelling at me why he should be responsible for overdrafting his account. I looked to my right, stood up and ran out of the office and into the back break room. I couldn’t catch a breath while I cried hard tears and called my mom. I felt weak, helpless and in need in that moment. These continued to happen over the course of a year.
The third bout of stress came when I worked as a personal trainer at a facility that I didn’t feel in my heart was allowing me to grow and feeling like there was no way out. My anxiety this time around began to take shape of me digressing as I did not feel like myself. During this time another stressful situation presented itself to me through my time competing in Bikini competitions and trying to create a more perfect image of myself, which brought me into a whole other ball game of issues. This image of perfection was creating an Ash I no longer recognized, and I knew I had to choose. I had to choose between opportunity and myself; I chose my self. That year, I gained 30 pounds back of all that I had lost and to say that was hard is an enormous understatement. It’s been the most difficult challenge I’ve ever had to face, to feel out of control of something that gave me control in my self and made me feel empowered, I had to begin finding a new source of empowerment.
That next year, I launched the first Fierce Forward product: the Limitless Armor and left my job. I immediately felt relief and saw myself grow once again. Becoming a business owner has not been an easy feat, and growing pains are just that…pains…pains in your chest, pains in your breathing, pains in your ass for lack of a better word! It is hard, sometimes lonely, difficult and something you have to just work through by flowing with it and most importantly, asking for help; however, for me, flowing with it and asking for help has not been a strong fort-ay of mine so I have more resisted through it.
Don’t get me wrong, we all have stress and anxiety and we have it for a reason. Acute stress is normal and healthy in all of us and happens on a daily basis but does not last. It is you feeling nervous before your big meeting or your heart racing after a car pulls out in front of you and almost rams into you. But chronic stress is the stress that lasts and festers inside of you and begins taking over your body and mind. It is NOT healthy and if you know anyone who shows these signs know that it is serious and they probably need to talk it out more than anything (often times they will hide it and act like “I got this” but you can sense an energy that they are not themselves or that they are more short fuzed and can even get angry…it is different in everyone)
I spoke with a friend yesterday and she inspired me by sharing her story of a challenging couple of years she had and how on the end of all of that was something completely on the contrary to what she went through…magic! I have known for a good year now that I truly NEED to take care of myself in order to be happy in this life, that THAT is my job first and foremost and is truly all of our jobs, you MUST take care of you before you take care of anything else. I’m coming up with some ways of doing this like:
- practicing yoga
- meditating daily
- working on my perspective of perfection and “it all has to be done perfectly and now” mind set
- learning to breathe better (hence part of the reason I got sinus surgery)
- trail walks
- foot massages
- stopping in middle of day and just sitting with axel
- turning I am so stressed into I am so excited
- doing things from my heart vs. my to-do list
- doing my hair, putting some makeup on and wearing an outfit that makes me feel like me each day
- hanging out with friends and family more!
Have you suffered from anxiety or chronic stress and what have you found has helped you to deal with it? I’d love to hear from you, comment on Fierce Forward Nation and tag me.
I think for each of us to come into our personal power, we have to go through things that are not easy, that test us time and time again until we choose to stand up and do what is necessary to move forward, fiercely. And until you choose this path and take action every day towards this path, your feet will be stuck in a newly cemented ground while you wail your way out, with no where to go but right where you are standing. I am trusting in my journey and knowing that I have to go through this to learn something and in this case, something FIERCE and BIG! If you are stressed with all of your to-dos, crumple that list up right now, create an “I get to” list and just do one. thing. at. a. time. and do it with your heart or don’t do it at all. Don’t do something because you have to, because your boss is telling you to get it done, do it because you want to put your heart into it. That is taking care of you in the mean time of taking care of other things. I’m on a journey to find out what it is I need to learn but for now, I’m just working on flowing with it more and know the answer will present itself to me in the right time.