Let's Talk About Anxiety: Ashley Belluz
Everyone gets anxious, so why does talking about it feel so icky sometimes?
Anxiety is apparently the most common mental disorder in the world according to the World Health Organization, but then, that right there might explain why talking about it is so stigmatized. After all, who really wants to admit they’ve got a mental disorder to their bosses, coworkers, clients, or even friends and family? Those words haven’t historically opened many doors or brimmed with positive connotations.
But, we’re on a mission to change that, because all of this internalizing and individualizing is clearly not helping. Our Let’s Talk About Anxiety series is all about sharing anxious encounters and pushing the conversation into the open so we can problem solve together and take back that power anxiety holds over us when we feel alone.
For the next three weeks we’ll be sharing stories and discussing anxiety. Unabashed and unfiltered. So read what others have to share and join in on the discussion on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram so we can create a living document that shows just how powerful working together can be in the fight against anxiety.
INTRODUCING: ASHLEY BELLUZ
Ashley Belluz, is the brains behind KILTER&MINT, a place where yoga and storytelling come together. Whether you’re attending one of Ashley’s classes or listening to the stories she’s sharing through her podcast and blog, you’ll find it difficult not to connect to this vibrant soul.
Today Ashley is sharing her own story about how anxiety has often played the foil to her role as a yoga teacher and, even if you’re not a yogi, there’s a lesson in there we can all stand to learn.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST REALIZE YOU WERE, OR HAD BEEN EXPERIENCING ANXIETY?
I actually denied having anxiety for most of my life and only within the past year really looked at my physical and emotional relationship to anxiety.
A yoga teacher “shouldn’t” have anxiety.
I would tell myself that I suffer from postpartum depression, not anxiety. But then I started to notice that my hands would be clenched into tight balls, so I’d relax them… then 20 seconds later I was back digging my nails into my palms. I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t get my mind to turn off.
HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU REALIZED IT?
To be honest, relief. I could finally pinpoint and label what was going on. And once I could label and identify, I started making notes as to what worked and what didn’t to relieve the stressors and anxiousness.
HOW DOES ANXIETY MANIFEST OR FEEL FOR YOU?
It’s like a never ending list where I don’t know where to begin. I found myself walking faster, talking faster and constantly trying to manage the rapid fire thoughts. Think of it like watching a TV show on 1.5x speed. You know what’s going on, but it’s moving just that much faster that you can’t slow down to process what’s going on.
Anxiety in my body is acne (yay) and red blotches from neck to feet.
Anxiety in my mind is taking deep breaths and feeling like my oxygen supply is getting cut off.
Anxiety in my habit is body-focused repetitive behaviour (excoriation).
HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR WORK OR BUSINESS?
When I’m recording a podcast and interviewing someone, I’m not fully present. I end up sticking to the script and the conversation suffers as it doesn’t have that natural flow like two old friends gabbing over coffee.
When I’m teaching yoga, it shows up as an energetic shift I pick up on other people’s energy and vice versa. So when my energy is off and my focus is elsewhere, it affects the entire class.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU EXPERIENCE IT?
When it’s bad, it’s pretty much every day. And, it ebbs and flows and runs the gamut.
DOES IT INCREASE AT CERTAIN TIMES OR WITH CERTAIN EVENTS?
Call me trigger happy. After some recent major life changes, I find that my anxiety is triggered when I feel a loss of control. Events and occurrences spark the disquieted flame and then a gust of wind blows through and we have a wildfire on our hands.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND HELPS YOU?
THERAPY. I wish it were more accessible and less expensive as I believe everyone should see a therapist. Having a safe space to share your thoughts and feelings and have an unbiased person fully listening is a game changer.
I also found that breath work, journaling, fresh air and pumping iron really helps.
DOES ANXIETY HAVE ANY CONSTRUCTIVE OR POSITIVE SIDES FOR YOU?
I often go “ready, fire, aim”, so anxiety catapults my knee jerk reaction to get sh*t done. On one hand, I can get A LOT done (you haven’t seen productivity until you have a napping baby). But on the flip-side, I have to take every ounce of my being to say “Hey Ash, let’s pause for a moment and come up with a game plan first”.
HOW DO YOU FEEL AFFECTED BY MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA?
As a business owner, “likes” and social media engagement lured me into all hours of “follow backs” and “liking” other people’s posts. I thought that if I hit a magical number, more business would come my way.
A thousand ‘likes’ didn’t build my business. Ads didn’t build my business. And no one gives a sh*t how curated your feed is. (Also I never hit a thousand likes, lol). Real connection builds business.
I do feel pressure to have high-quality images and stand out laugh forward “candid” shots… but Mama knows her shortcomings and that list includes photography. So yeah, Pinterest has some super awesome pictures and I’ll spend the money on hiring my photographer friends to take bomb ass photos.
Also, I get in my head about writing the perfect blurb under an Instagram photo. How can I make a witty and inspiring caption that will be forward thinking and woke?
For me, social media creates an illusion of what an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship should look like and be. I don’t have a cute, all white office. Heck, I don’t have an office. I’m not going to networking and social events. I’m at home hanging with my baby.
IF YOU COULD BRING ONE THING TO LIGHT ABOUT ANXIETY, WOULD WOULD THAT BE?
If something doesn’t feel right, trust your gut. Trust yourself. Take naps, say no and go see a therapist.
Dance to the beat of your own drum and success will come.