Deep Stretch: Lean In, Step Back

As some of you may know, I have generalized anxiety disorder. For this deep stretch episode, it felt aligned to share with you how anxiety shows up for me mentally, physically, and emotionally and how I respond in the moment.

Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Inner Warmup, where your inner work begins. My name is Taylor Elyse Morrison, founder of Inner Workout and you as always are our expert guest. So this is the end of the month, which means it's a deep stretch episode where I really get to tell you kind of what's been on my mind and heart from a self care and inner work perspective. But we'll still, as always, start with a little check in because I like doing it and it's helpful to me as I prepare to share with you.

So here's one of my favorite check in questions. I wish I could remember who I first heard it from but it goes like this. "If you really knew me, you'd know that..." and it can be really specific to this day, it doesn't have to be like, this is true for you always, it can just be this is true for me in this moment, as I'm listening to Inner Warmup. So for me, if you really knew me today, you'd know that I love being at home. And what I've been realizing as the world opens more and more, and I've been on Instagram less and less is that I used to get so much FOMO of going and doing all the cool things and hanging out with people. Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with people that I love. And I still like getting outside and adventuring, but I have this new appreciation for my home. And there's actually a podcast episode from, I believe it was in May, when we talked about our changing definitions of home. Now that I am full time living back in the city, I just love my place so much. And I've been having a ton of fun, making it even more mine/ours with my husband and DIYing, and just like noticing the sun coming in through the windows and it's been a really beautiful thing. It's also caused me to think more about, okay, if I know that I really love being at home, and it helps me be creative, it helps me be productive, it helps me be grounded, what is that balance? And as I'm hanging out with people, what criteria do I need to have to make sure that I'm going to be filled up from those interactions as well. So, those are just some things on my mind. And you're welcome to answer the question as well - if I really knew you today, what would I know about you?

Hopefully that got you thinking a little bit. Whenever I ask that question, or I am asked that question, it's always What do people need to know about me? What am I not just like outwardly expressing? What's a little bit beneath the surface? So I hope that helps you as well, maybe surface something for you. And today's episodes, like I mentioned, it's a deep stretch. The title is Lean In, Step Back and you might be wondering what that means, I promise we'll get there in a couple of minutes. But first, I want to give some more context.

So, many of you probably know I have generalized anxiety disorder, I have always been pretty anxious. And now when I look back on my childhood, I can see things and be like oh, that was a manifestation of my anxiety, I just did not have language for that when I was younger. Now often when I'm feeling super anxious, it can show up as a tightness in my chest, sometimes there'll be like a tightness in my legs, my legs will feel almost like they're locking up.

And emotionally, because this month we are talking about the mental and emotional dimension, there's this feeling like I am doing everything wrong, and I'm falling short and I'm not good enough and I'm not creating something impactful enough. It's just like this really heavy discouraging feeling. And it's weird because there's a heaviness with it, but also my anxiety feels really fast. It's like talking to me really quickly and telling me things that are not encouraging. And the reason that I'm bringing this up is because I am recording this in the midst of a really intense bout of anxiety today. I thought about like okay, maybe do I not record an episode today or like, what do we do? I decided to just go ahead and record after doing some self care and some inner work, which I'll talk about later. That's actually where the inspiration from today's episode came from, but yeah, in the deep stretches I just like to show up as a work in progress, as someone who is learning more about myself and how to care for myself every day. And today, my self, me, I happen to be anxious. And so I thought I'd share some of what is helpful for me as I'm navigating my anxiety and really, you could probably apply this to any emotion that you're feeling. You could probably apply this to anger or to fear or to self doubt. And that's where the title comes from, lean in and then step back.

So the first being lean, and I have a tendency to be pretty mind over matter. And before I started being more intentional about getting to know myself, I would kind of try and shut down emotions and see them as unproductive like, I need to get something done today, so I don't care that you're anxious or whatever, got to keep going Taylor. That's how I would approach things in the past. And so for me, taking that time to lean in and to explore my emotions is really healthy for me. You might try this and find it overwhelming and it might not be a helpful tool for you. That's fine, I'm speaking from my perspective.

So today, what I did is I started feeling really, really, really anxious. It was triggered by one situation where I didn't feel like I showed up as a good friend. And that was all it took for my anxiety to start taking over. And anything that I could possibly feel bad about or concerned about, started showing up. I took the time to explore it. First, just physically in my body, seeing, okay, this is anxiety today. Where's it at? How's it showing up in my body? And it was those symptoms that I mentioned before, I felt my chest getting tight. There are times when my heart started beating pretty quickly. In my legs, I could feel them starting to tighten up and I just explored that for a few moments. Noticed it, took it in, said okay, this is familiar, I'm used to this, I've been here before. And I mentioned there's this physical manifestation of my anxiety and then there's also this mental and emotional manifestation of my anxiety.

So I also did something else, I got out my journal I just made two columns, feelings on one side, and facts on the other side. Because our feelings have a lot of information and data to give us, but our feelings are not inherently factual. And so it can be helpful to separate those out.  I just put some things that I was feeling in the column, like, I feel like I should be further along. Or I feel like I'm a bad friend, and just wrote those down. And then on the other side, I put down the facts of the situation. So I could put the facts of what happened in my exchange with my friend that I wasn't happy about how I showed up in that. I could write down anything really for the facts. If I'm saying like, "I feel like I'm not doing enough", I could say, "here are the things that I've gotten done today or this week or this year", or the goals that I've achieved and just factually put them down and look at both. Okay, this is what I'm feeling. This is the anxiety tape that's running in my head. And these are the facts of the matter. Now, I won't say that it magically erased my anxiety, but it did allow me to see, okay, I am feeling this thing right now. It feels really, really true. But there's more to the story. These facts that I wrote down, those are part of the story, those those are actually true. And it shifted the balance a little bit for me. And that's kind of when I started to transition into the step back.

So lean in is really me trying to understand and then get to the root of what was going on. Because if I hadn't have done that, I would have just felt like, okay, here are my physical symptoms of anxiety, I'm used to those, I know what's up, I feel really bad about the situation with my friend and that's why I'm anxious. But there was all this other stuff underneath the surface that was just waiting for an opportunity to be voiced, to be expressed inside my mind. And so the leaning in was helpful. I had a better grip on the situation and a better understanding of what I was feeling and that's when I stepped back. I tried to partly step back by taking a break, taking my dog Blue for a walk. My dog Blue is also very anxious, he actually is on Prozac for dogs. We adopted him. He was not introduced to a lot of the things that he was supposed to be introduced to as a puppy and so now pretty much everything is scary for him, which...he's a cutie pie. He's sitting underneath my desk as I record this right now. But I mentioned that because I tried to take him for a walk but then there was a loud noise, and he was over it. So it was like two minutes, but I got outside in the sun for two minutes and that was helpful. And then I tried to do some more work, I tried to journal a little bit more, but I felt like I really need a nice long step back, not just two minutes outside trying to walk my dog. And so I had an errand that I needed to do and I got in the car, drove to do that, left my phone at home, was silent on the car ride didn't have any background music, or a podcast, which is my m.o. normally. I just let my mind wander and see where it went. And it was interesting because I was nervous that the anxiety was going to turn up the volume. But in the stepping back, there was actually room for all of this other stuff. Some of the things that I had noticed or started to explore, when I was leaning into the feelings of my anxiety and trying to root cause what was going on, I could circle back to some of that, and start to see solutions or different ways of looking at the situation, which was pretty cool. And I ended up coming back from the errand, ready to sit down and do this episode, because I was not ready before.

I normally record this earlier in the day and I just was not in a place where I could record it mentally or emotionally, and then I was ready to record it, and this whole framework kind of clicked for me. Also, some other underlying pieces around my anxiety that were making me nervous or things in the business or personally that I had been exploring...that lean in, it was like, oh, actually, you could look at it this way. What if you tried this? What would this look like? And it was just because I stepped back and didn't try and force myself to be productive. In spite of the anxiety, I just said, I'm going to tap out for 30 minutes, do something else, and see if that helps. And today it did. That's not always the case. Sometimes the anxiety just sticks with you. But this lean in, step back worked really well for me today. And I offer it up for you as something that you can iterate on and see if it helps you out. And leaning in might look different for you. Maybe there's different practices, besides journaling and kind of body scanning that help you become aware of what's happening, what's showing up for you in a moment. And maybe your step back looks different to you.

Maybe you're a person who likes to play a video game or I play chess, you might mindlessly play chess for 10 minutes and that might be something that gets you out of it. You might make a piece of art and that's what is your stepping back. It looks different for everyone, this is just how it happened to look for me today. And all of this is to say that anxiety happens, bad days happen. And something that I really wanted to express as I was recording this episode is that you can do all of the inner work and have all of the support in the world and still feel anxious and still have days where you're not feeling particularly joyful or have days where it feels like there's a rain cloud over your head and it's only over your head. Those things happen. So it's not a judgment of you and your ability to do the inner work. And I have that in quotes as I'm saying that because sometimes, for me, running this company, where I'm talking about these things all the time...when I am not feeling on my game, it can be like man, Taylor, this is your work, shouldn't you be better at this? And it can become part of the anxiety tape but really, it's part of the human experience to feel these things.

So just know that. And that's why we talk at Inner Workout about having your self care support system. And I definitely leaned into mine today. So I talked about, like the leaning in and stepping back as a way to help you move through an emotion and get to know an emotion. But I also definitely use things in my self care support system. If you're like, Taylor, what is that?, we'll link in the show notes. It's a free mini course that we have that can really, for me, it's been helpful in looking at how I approach self care. So the three pillars of your self care support system: practices, partners and products. So the practices, you probably heard me talking about it, but I went, well, I was going to go for a longer walk. But I did go for a short walk. And I journaled, those were the two practices that I really leaned on. I also did a little bit of breath work, nothing super long, but just some breaths, especially when I was starting to feel my body get really tight, I use my breath to help me open up a little bit more. And then the partners piece.

My husband is still working from home, he hasn't gone back to the office yet. And so I was just like, "babe, I'm really anxious." And he gave me some great hugs, and encouraged me and asked me what I needed. And then I have a group chat with two of my dearest friends and I was able to go there and say that I was feeling anxious. And within minutes, I had like a link to a cute baby elephant gif and a seven minute stand up routine that might put a smile on my face. And so leaning into other people who know me, and care for me was really vital in getting through today. And then on the products side, and you'll hear this in the course but I don't believe you need products to practice self care, but they can be helpful. And we happen to be launching...and I didn't plan this, for this to work out today...but we are launching, it's called Stasis and it's an essential oil blend. It's actually launching in August and I happened to just get a shipment in of the essential oil blend. And the whole idea of it is it's made by or formulated, I guess is the technical word, formulated by a clinical aromatherapist. And the oils that are in it, the scents that are in it are really designed to be calming and balancing. So I got that roller and I put it on my wrists, I put it on my neck on the points there. And it really helped me like in the context of everything else I did as well. But using that product was really helpful. And just to take some deep breaths as well and really let the scent wash over me was helpful. So that's from a self care support system, how I also explored today with my anxiety, and I think that this is a good transition talking about Stasis. The reason it's launching next month is because this month, we've been talking about the mental and emotional dimension. Next month, we are moving into the energetic dimension. And so we'll be talking about what that means from an Inner Workout perspective. The tangible piece of the energetic dimension is our breath and then there's these intangible pieces that are inspired by the chakra system that also looks at like the energy capacity that we have in a day just from a very, I don't know if productivity is the word that I want to use, but from a capacity perspective, I guess that's what I want to say.

So I'm really excited to continue having conversations and introducing you to each of the dimensions of well being and giving you a chance as always to reflect on how it's showing up in your life. My goal with this podcast is that you can know yourself better and deeply and become your own expert. Yeah, I am a woman who has done some research and has experience, but really I'm the expert on me. And I just hope that in you hearing some of how I think about things or how I navigate days like this when I'm feeling really anxious, helps you as you do the same for yourself. So I want to say thank you so much for your time and for your expertise. We'll be back next week with a normal episode, the interview format that you've come to know and love and if you want to chat, you can come hang out Inner Workout's community. It's free and I would love to see you there. Okay, thanks.

Take care!