While everybody feels anxiety or frustration throughout their lives, I started to actually be anxious after my injury. Sometimes it would be about the injury itself, and I’d agonize over when I’d feel better or if I’d ever be able to do everything I once did, and other times, the anxiety would take a different aim: school, work, money, not finding the shoes I wanted to wear that day… you name it.
Once my foot was feeling up to it, I started doing yoga at my local studio. There were (and still are!) a bunch of poses that I had difficulty with, or straight up couldn’t do, but getting back into that breath-body connection helped immensely. I’d notice how much less anxious or stressed I was on the days I practiced yoga.
One day a few months ago, my yoga instructor told us all to decide on a mantra for the rest of the day. Kind of like a slogan or catch phrase for your cold Wednesday, ya know? I opted out of the typical “I am strong” or “I am calm,” and went for the following: “I can control my thoughts, not the world.”
I was doubtful that this would seriously help in my day-to-day, since I was sure that nobody in the world thinks as much as me, and one silly sentence could not quell these racing thoughts. But I’m very type A and follow the rules, so I figured it would just be something that I could think to myself when we were holding downward-dog for just a little too long. “I can stop thinking about how painful this is, and instead think of what I’m doing this weekend, but I can’t control the fact that our instructor wants us to stand here with our asses in the air until the end of time.”
And then I left class and went to work. And something (who even remembers at this point) frustrated me. So I took some deep breaths and said to myself (in my head, of course!) “I can control my thoughts, not the world,” and shifted my mind to whatever I had to do, rather than what I could not control. And then I did it the next day. And the next day.
And I felt a lot better. (That’s not to say I no longer get anxious or stressed, but this was a technique that really helped me along the way!)
I think now when I’m in the midst of difficult situations (or even crazy workouts or an awkwardly long down-dog), I’ll shift my mantra to “I can stand this.”
Because after all, if I can stand, I can stand anything.