URGENT: We’ve moved!

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Hey, everyone! If you’re wondering why I’ve been so quiet here, the reason is that I’ve moved Naked With Anxiety to a self-hosted site. You can visit us at www.nakedwithanxiety.com or you can subscribe here via Bloglovin’, so you never miss a post!

And find us on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for even more helpful tips, tricks, and links, if that’s your thaaaang. Thanks for being awesome- seriously, you all rock! ❤

Do you want helpful mental health, happiness, and positivity tips sent straight to your inbox?

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I started building an email list earlier this week because I’ve been working on some very exciting content behind the scenes and want to be able to share it with you directly. Are you on the list yet? If not, you can sign up for the Naked With Anxiety newsletter right here.

The newsletter will feature unique content each time, of course, but if you’d like to gain an idea of what to expect- here’s some things you can expect:

  • tips for dealing with anxiety + panic attacks directly to your inbox
  • surveys that’ll allow you to help shape the direction of Naked With Anxiety
  • access exclusive content only available to email subscribers
  • many other benefits that will be determined as we grow

So, again, hop on over here if you’d like to join the NWA email family! Thank you! xx

Healthy sweet potato nachos’

nachos

“Healthy” and “nachos” probably aren’t two words you’ve seen together before, so today we’re changing that! I got a mandolin recently (read: my brother, AJ, got a mandolin and he let’s me use it when I beg) and it’s been a game-changer.

I prefer crunchy food, so chips and nachos are high up on my list of favorites. They’re generally loaded with unhealthy fats (did you see that the F.D.A. set a 2018 deadline to rid foods of trans fat this week?) and a lot of the time the nasty fat aftertaste leaves me feeling like I need to send my mouth through a car wash- yuck! So, I started thinking- how can I resolve this issue and create a nacho recipe that leaves me satisfied and not feeling like my mouth is caked in grease? Enter the mandolin! I googled “baked sweet potato chips” and up popped Dana Shultz’s recipe. Uh, hello, dream come true. If you don’t know who she is- definitely do your taste buds a favor and check out her site, Minimalist Baker.

I quickly read through some reviews and saw no reason to test just the chips first- Dana knows what she’s talking about. I headed to the market to collect the healthy nacho toppings and then got to work yesterday, so I could share these with AJ for lunch (y’know, since it’s his mandolin and all). And ho-ly cow. Amazing. One bite and AJ’s exact words were, “These are so f#cking amazing! Please tell me you wrote down everything you put on them.”

And, I did! So now- you can try them, too!

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From Dana’s site:

BAKED SWEET POTATO CHIPS

Prep time: 10 mins // Cook time: 2 hours // Total time: 2 hours 10 mins
Ingredients
  • 2 organic sweet potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and position oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Rinse and dry your sweet potatoes thoroughly and slice them as uniformly thin as possible. If you have a mandolin, use it. Otherwise, use a very sharp knife to get these uniformly thin. Know that chips that are too thick in parts won’t crisp up all the way. Still delicious, just not “chip” crispiness.
  3. Toss slices in a touch of olive oil to lightly coat, then sprinkle with salt. Lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 2 hours, flipping chips once at halfway point to ensure even cooking. I also rotated mine for more even cooking (optional but recommended).
  4. Remove once crisp and golden brown. Some may feel a little tender in the middle but take them out and let them rest for 10 minutes or so to crisp up before sampling. Serve immediately.

While the chips cooked, I had more than enough time to prep all of my toppings, wash the dishes, and write a song. Okay, so maybe I didn’t write a song, but these guys take a while and, as Dana mentioned, they’re best eaten immediately after cooling, so you’ll want to prep your toppings while they bake. Here’s what I topped mine with, which made some incredibly bangin nachos…

NACHO TOPPINGS

Ingredients
  • 12 black olives, sliced
  • 1 avocado (mashed + pinch of salt)
  • 1 ear of corn (place base in center ring of a bundt pan and cut down like this)
  • 1 scallion (I only used the green part)
  • 1/2 can refried beans (I used these, but you can skip them for paleo)
  • 1/2 pickled red jalapeno, seeded + diced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli (boiled or steamed + pinch of salt), cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 a pickled beet, diced
  • 1/2 an orange bell pepper, seeded + diced
  • 1/2 a small red onion (diced)
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle toppings onto your pile of chips as neatly or haphazardly as you please
  2. Take a photo
  3. Devour your nachos
  4. Upload the photo to Instagram or Twitter and tag me, so I can see your creation! ;]

How to get back into the sports/hobbies your anxiety caused you to give up

Soccer

Has your anxiety caused you to give up something you love doing? I played soccer from ages 4-14 and the only reason I stopped was because of my anxiety (a panic attack, specifically).

I was 15 when I tried out for my high school soccer team. On the drive to try-outs, my mom asked me to text her once I was in the gym. We somehow overlooked try-outs my freshman year of high school, so my mom wanted to be sure we had our information straight this time around and I was too embarrassed to have her set foot inside the building (ah, the high school years xoxo) so a text was the next best thing. “Make sure you’ve got your phone,” my mom said as I slid out of the car.

“I already checked,” I said. I pulled my phone from my bag to reassure her and flipped it open. The screen was black. “Oh, it’s dead.”

“Just run in and make sure the coach is there and give me a wave from the window, so I know it’s okay to leave.”

I walked down the path to the entrance near the gym, pulled open a glass door, and walked in. Stumbling over the mat meant for drying one’s shoes, I caught my balance mere inches away from colliding into a vending machine. I looked down at my sneakers and felt a pang in my stomach, as I remembered the try-out sheet recommended wearing indoor soccer shoes.

Entering the gym, I saw all of the other girls warming up and froze. I lowered my soccer bag down to hide my sneakers, as I watched all of them moving around effortlessly in the recommended sneakers. My sense of self-worth at that time was entirely related to how well I was “playing the part.” Even though regular sneakers were technically still okay to wear, it felt insurmountable to me. That may paint me as a bit of a brat, but please make no mistake- I was one haha. The difference is that my mind would respond in a way that would make me feel physically ill, and I still had no idea what anxiety or panic attacks were at the time, so I thought I had bad luck that would make me feel sick at really inconvenient times.

I looked around the room and didn’t see anyone I knew well enough to walk up to and start kicking a ball around with. The pain in my stomach grew bigger- I needed to escape. I bent down to look in my bag and acted like I was missing something, scratched my head like, “gee whiz, where did I leave that thing” and then gave a knowing look and headed out the door. This sort of behavior was pretty typical for me and shows how I always felt I need to justify my actions to others, which I now believe is because I didn’t fully understand them myself.

My mom was giving me the, “did we seriously mess this up again” look as I headed towards the car and I shook my head. She looked confused and was rolling down my window to ask what was going on, as I opened the car door.

“I feel sick and I want to go home.”

“Danielle, you always do this. We drove all the way over here for this and you love soccer- I think you should stay.”

I bursted into tears. “I don’t understand why this always happens to me, mom.”

“It’s all in your head. I was the same way when I was your age, but I just ignored it. That’s what you have to do.”

“Yeah, well, I can’t ignore it and I want to go home.”

“Seriously?!”

“I’m sorry that I’m such a loser, but I can’t do this.”

My mom turned on her car and started driving home. I cried even harder at this point- partially because I wanted her to tell me I wasn’t a loser, partially because I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did, and partially because I was relieved to be heading home where I’d be able to take a hot shower and crawl into my bed.

I ended up playing on a team again when I was 17. A friend’s dad invited my brother and I to play on a team he coached in a nearby town, and it just felt very safe so I was able to do it. I returned to that field last night for my little brother’s last middle school soccer game and it hit me- I would still love to play on a soccer team.

This idea has floated around my mind on-and-off throughout the past few years, so it didn’t truly just come to me last night, but it seemed more real this time. About two years ago I looked into joining a local co-ed soccer league, but I was discouraged because I knew I wasn’t in shape enough to keep up. I brainstormed about what I could do to raise my confidence enough to make the goal attainable and the most glaringly obvious idea was that I should take up running.

As you may know, I’ve recently become a runner and I feel that as I become more comfortable with running in general and competing in races, my goal (heh) of playing soccer again will become a reality.

Do you have a sport or other hobby that you gave up because of your anxiety? If so, here are my tips for getting back into it!

1) Identify the reason you gave up the sport/hobby

Very rarely are anxiety or panic attacks the cause- more often than not, they’re a side effect of the cause. For me, the real reason was that I felt inadequate.

2) Figure out a way that you can gain some confidence in your ability to participate in the sport/hobby

Let’s say you were a swimmer and you want to swim competitively again. If that’s the case then I would recommend getting comfortable with swimming in a safe place like your home, a friend/relative’s home, etc. Then you could work your way up to swimming at a public pool (maybe one at a gym) for only 10 minutes at a time at first and gradually working your way up.

3) Attend an event featuring that sport/hobby

Once you feel comfortable, you could then attend a local swim meet, just to sit in the audience. Pay attention to the things you smell, hear, and see. Do any of these things make you anxious? If so, keep attending until you feel okay about them. Does seeing the athletes, etc. make you want to get out there and do it yourself? If so, great! It’d then be time to move onto the final step…

4) Join a team, club, group, etc.

By this point in the process, you will have surely learned a lot about yourself and gained some serious confidence. You will have moved along at a pace you’re comfortable with and set yourself up to thrive. At this point it’s time to get out there and show yourself what you’re made of!

Are you unsure how to work up to participating in your sport or hobby? Leave a comment and let me know about it, and we can brainstorm some ideas together!

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can

5K

I just picked up my race bib, so I’m officially all set to run my first 5K tomorrow morning. Seeing all of the other runners at the expo was thrilling and I’m hoping that feeling carries over into the race, too. The #WalkwayMarathon is expected to draw 5,000 runners, supporters, spectators, and volunteers into the area, which puts me on edge but I’m going to do my best to just breathe through it all and accept whatever thoughts may come up (rather than fighting them). I signed up for this race to accomplish two things:

1) to encourage myself to jump over the mental hurdle that is running

2) to push myself to face the anxiety of participating in a race.

I didn’t realize how many people would be drawn into the area for this race when I signed up, so it’s added on a new layer of fear but I kind of like it. Tomorrow will be a day where I push myself to experience life outside of my comfort zone, which is the best way I know how to grow. BUT I’m also giving myself permission to fail because that keeps me grounded in reality. 🏃💨

How to stop worrying

Anxiety

Sure- there’s an “i” in anxiety. But I like to think that “i” stands for the fact that “i” am the only one who can change how I react to things that trigger my anxiety. The other day I read this piece titled How to Stop Worrying. I couldn’t click on it fast enough because I’ve been trying to figure out how to stop worrying for most of my life.

In this piece, Eric Barker writes that mindfulness is the solution to stop worrying. Ronald Siegel, author of The Mindfulness Solution and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School, defines mindfulness as, “Awareness of present experience with acceptance.” 

When we are worrying, we are not accepting our present experience. Instead we’re imagining possible negative outcomes that could derive from our present experience or try to run from uncomfortable feelings. In mindfulness practice, we accept the situation for what it is and allow ourselves to feel the feelings brought on by it; we do not worry about how the situation could escalate or try to have different thoughts. Instead of judging, one simply observes their feelings with acceptance.

Observing your feelings with acceptance- doesn’t that sound wonderful? I can’t possibly count how many times I’ve judged myself for feeling a certain way. The idea of just observing one’s feelings- knowing that whatever they may be, you are still you- sounds radically freeing.

Barker encourages readers, who may find the concept of mindfulness a bit perplexing, when he says, “Next time you’re worrying, remember that your thoughts aren’t real. Life is real.”

Your thoughts aren’t real. Life is real.

If only someone had told me that my thoughts aren’t real years ago haha. Most of my suffering in life has been a direct result of believing that my thoughts are the realest thing ever.

Barker concludes with these 5 tips to stop worrying and start being mindful:

  1. You are not your thoughts. Sometimes they’re downright ridiculous. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.
  2. Observe, don’t judge. Acknowledge the thoughts, but let them float by. Don’t wrestle with them.
  3. Don’t distract, immerse. Do not check your email for the 400th time. Take in the world around you. Turn to your senses. That’s real. Your thoughts and the stories you tell yourself about the world aren’t.
  4. Note or label intrusive thoughts. Yeah, the thoughts fight back. Acknowledge them. Give the intrusive ones a funny name.
  5. Return to the senses. Really pay attention to the world around you.

Now don’t mind me while I go have “thoughts are not real” tattooed across my wrists. ;]

You are worth it and you deserve to be happy

There was a time in my life where I did not realize that I was “worth it” or that I deserved to be happy. I thought I was unlovable, unlucky, and unwanted. Underneath those feelings, there was always a little flame inside me- a glimmer of what could be- that would grow big enough for some light to shine out, whenever the circumstances were good. But when the winds of negativity or uncertainty would blow, it would shrink back down to a little, flickering, barely noticeable flame

I was always waiting to be rescued. I wanted someone to swoop into my life, pick me up, and make everything better. “That’s how it happens,” I thought. So I kept going down the same path, making the same mistakes, getting angry at other people when they didn’t love me enough to make me better, and truly believed I would be worthless until someone else saw my little flame and helped it grow bigger, stronger, brighter.

And I guess I was right all along because someone finally has come in and done just that. Someone has looked at the little flame and said, “It’s going to take a lot of work to make sure this thing doesn’t blow out every time a gust of wind passes through and it’ll need some kind of cover to protect it when it rains, but this little flame means more to me than anything else, so I’m certain it’ll be worth the effort.”

It makes me feel pretty safe knowing that I have someone looking out for my little flame. I know I have someone there who’s committed to helping it grow and nurturing it when wind and rain- or any other outside forces- would have the power to completely wipe out its glow.

So now you must be curious- how can you find someone who will look out for that special part of you and remain dedicated to it, no matter what happens? Well, I’ll tell you exactly how you can do that: you must do it for yourself. That person who’s been nurturing me? It’s me.

You must protect your flame and you must realize that only you can help it grow. Sure, other people can hand you kindling, but it’s up to you whether it gets added to the fire or not.

You cannot be afraid to get dirty- to dig your nails into the soil of your soul and ensure that the foundation your flame rests in is healthy. You must shield your flame when the wind howls late at night, when you think about giving up, or when the thought crosses your mind, “What would this world look like without me? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?”

Fuck what everyone else notices and cares about. Notice yourself. Care about yourself. Let that be enough. Grow your flame into something others will see and stumble backwards as they say, “Shit, that’s beautiful. YOU are beautiful.”

Because you are beautiful. And maybe it doesn’t always shine out of you, but you can work on that. You can nurture your flame until it grows into something that draws in others simply because they admire its warmth and couldn’t imagine their lives without it. Those are the people you want to have around. But first, you have to see it yourself.

You are worth it and you deserve to be happy.