Controlling Anxiety

Controlling Anxiety

How I Control My Anxiety

Many people who have suffered trauma such as abuse, rape, and child loss will experience anxiety.

The emotional trauma brought on by these terrible experiences can impair ones ability to successfully handle emotions, how you feel about yourself and how you relate to others.

Most people think they need to suck it up and stop “overreacting” but for those of us who suffer we know it is not that simple.

I want to share 3 unexpected ways to control your anxiety, but first I want to tell you how anxiety used to control me and how I began to overcome it. 

Anxiety has always been a real struggle for me.

I can remember as a young child almost always being anxious. This may be in part my personality or childhood wounds, But what really put me over the edge was my anxiety after my rape in college.

I immediately ran to drugs and alcohol to escape my emotional pain after being raped by a group of fraternity brothers, which almost immediately put me into a drug induced psychosis.

I had to be removed and even pulled out of school during my sophomore year because my anxiety had taken over and I had become suicidal because of it. I also had to be put on multiple medications.

My anxiety never truly went away, even with being on medication and seeing a therapist on a weekly basis, until I fully faced and healed emotionally from my past.

I guess it’s because I was constantly being triggered. Whether it was from my rape, or losing my son, or even being abused in my first marriage.

Being a raging alcoholic, as well as having to move every eighteen months with the military (I’m a military spouse) and starting over didn’t help much either.

Sometime my anxiety would take over when I was doing very simple, everyday things like going into the children’s elementary school to check them out for the day, or meeting fellow military spouses for coffee, or even walking into church.

Driving used to be the absolute worst. It’s crazy to think about it because those silly things which are so simple to most people would cause me severe anxiety.

I remember my chest would get super tight. My heart would start to race. I couldn’t catch my breath any longer. It felt like my heart was going to explode out of my chest. Sometimes I would just start sweating and shaking. It was scary. And the sad thing was I couldn’t stop it. 

Anxiety made it difficult for me to even get out of bed in the morning.

It affected my marriage, my other relationships, and it even made it difficult to be a good mother at times.

It controlled my life. In the past how I dealt with my anxiety was to just cancel my plans, or ask my husband to do it, or  just excuse myself to the bathroom so no one would witness my panic.

But, other times when I couldn’t escape and I had to take care of life, it would bring me to my knees and cause me to burst out in tears.

My anxiety was controlling every move I made.

But, I will never forget the moment I stopped allowing my anxiety to take over my life.

Remember that fall I had? The one where my husband found me at the bottom of two flights of stairs on Infant Loss and Miscarriage Awareness Day and he thought I was dead?

Well, that was the day that my life forever changed and I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and to get the help I needed to work on my past and all of the heartache I had endured that was causing me enormous pain and anxiety.

You can read more on that story here

I  also stopped drinking which had a huge effect on my anxiety. Almost immediately after I stopped self soothing with alcohol and stayed sober,  I began grieving the loss of my son who had passed years before and my anxious heart started dissipating,

I had to stop running from my emotional pain. I had to face it and allow my feelings to be felt. Once I began to reveal my pain, l let myself feeI it and cope with it, and then almost immediately I began to truly heal.

After my fall and choosing to feel my emotions instead of numbing them, I became a new woman.

Rather than being scared and anxious. I was now an anxiety-free, strong, brave, and passionate woman. Best of all I was also now a loving wife, mother and friend. 

All it took was to give myself grace and learn to face and walk along side of my pain instead of running from it.

Anxiety doesn’t just go away!

Your anxiety will not just go away overnight, because you literally have to retrain your brain by admitting it’s a problem, then be willing and ready to heal, and finally you have to stop hiding and ask for the help.

If this sounds like you, and you are ready to live an anxiety-free life, then I am ready to hold your hand and guide you into becoming a confident, healed, no longer anxious, beautiful, transformed woman that you want to be, and are capable of becoming!!!!

I have created a program called Healing Cocoon to help you reveal, feel and heal your emotional pain so you can be happy again. Check out the details here

A lot has changed since my fall.

I rarely experience anxiety anymore because of Reiki Energy Healing. It was so effective I became a certified Reiki Master. You can book a Reiki session with me  here. 

As soon as I feel anxiety coming on. I immediately stop what I am doing, take three deep breaths, and repeat over and over, “You are enough. You can do this. You are stronger than this” and almost instantly my anxiety subsides. 

Other things I do is:

  • Take a walk around the block
  • Put on calming music
  • Watch the sunset and ground myself
  • Turn on a mindless TV show (even better if it makes you laugh)

All these seem to work perfectly for me each and every time.

3 unexpected ways regain control when you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious

  1. Write it out
  2. Do a mindless task 
  3. Lean into your discomfort 

Write it out

Anxiety and overwhelm can both be decreased if you take the time to do a mind dump.  This can be done in a journal, the notes on your phone, or paper. There aren’t any rules just let it all out. Every thing that comes to mind. The reason you have anxiety is your body wants you to deal with your pain. Let it out!

Do a mindless task

Do a habitual task like dishes, shower, or fold laundry. When you do habitual tasks it enables your brain to relax and allows you to take the time to process your emotions.  Ask yourself what you need, and when the answer comes, know that you are worthy of receiving all of it. 

Lean in to your discomfort

The tendency is to avoid discomfort and let the pain chase you around. Practice allowing yourself to feel the discomfort. Sit with it and curiously ask yourself what you need to feel peaceful. Allow yourself to feel, so you can heal. 

If you have trauma and emotional pain and you are ready to heal check out healing cocoon. You are not alone and I would be honored to support your healing journey. 

This is what Katrina one of my Healing Cocoon students had to say about healing cocoon after her first week. “I got the first lesson done and it made me feel like I can heal”

Rebuilding Your Confidence After Trauma

Rebuilding Your Confidence After Trauma

I want to share with you the steps I took to rebuild my confidence after the trauma of abuse, rape, and losing my first-born child to SIDS. 

Confidence is a crazy thing. It takes forever to build it and then it can be shattered in a matter of minutes. When I was a young child, my dad would always tell me the importance of confidence. That confidence can pave the way for your success in life. That true confidence can bring you financial security, as well as emotional security. Being that I believed and trusted my father, I have been working on building my confidence since I was a little girl.

When it was time to go off to college, I thought not only had I built myself into a strong, confident woman, but I had also convinced myself that nothing or no one could ever steal my confidence away from me. I was ambitious. I had big plans and nothing would stand in my way (or so I thought).

Confidence Shattered

Sadly, all the confidence I had worked so hard to build up in myself as a child, was shattered the night I was gang raped and my virginity was stolen from me my freshmen year of college at Florida State University.

That night my esteem and the confident and vibrant girl I had been was obliterated. After my rape, I reverted back into a scared little girl. I didn’t want to tell anyone what had happened to me that horrific night because I thought deep down that the rape was all my fault. I had even convinced myself that I deserved to be raped by those fraternity brothers because I had been wearing a tight, little black skirt while drinking heavily with several of my sorority sisters that very evening.

When I finally built up the confidence and courage to share what had happened to me at that fraternity brother’s apartment, no one believed me at first. Maybe some still don’t.

I wish it wasn’t my truth but I share it openly now  because I need you to know that if you have experienced this sort of horror. It’s not your fault and you did not deserve it, and it is possible to heal the emotional pain it has caused you. I am living proof. 

That sexual assault certainly impacted me negatively on multiple levels but at the time I chose to pick up the pieces of me that were shattered by this horrific act and move forward. Time passed and I slowly began building up my confidence again. I graduated college, went off to grad school, and even landed an amazing job right after I received my graduate degree.

Not long after that I met the man who I thought, at the time, was the true love of my life. That man and I went on to get married and have a little boy together. But our life was about to be shook, merely nine weeks after our son Samuel was born I found him lifeless in his crib. My life changed for the worst that very day. 

Once again another trauma shattered all of my confidence I had worked so hard to rebuild.

However, this time was much worse. I didn’t even want to live anymore after Samuel’s death. All I could think about, night and day, was how am I ever going to survive the death of my son. Rebuilding my confidence was the last damn thing on my mind but I knew I needed it to rise up from the pit I was in.

I needed the confidence to redefine who I was now that Samuel was gone. 

I needed the confidence to keep going when the pain of life without my son made the future blurry and it hurt to go on without him.

I needed the confidence to let go of what was and embrace what was to be. It would be different but I had a small hope deep down that I could be ok again.

In time I began to heal from the loss of my child. The steps I took are laid out in this blog post on reaching rock bottom and I have also created a program called healing cocoon to help others heal and find happiness faster than it took me.

I was bound and determined to rebuild me confidence yet again. However, sadly, this time the confidence I had built after the loss of my son was short lived.

My husband at the time, the one I lost my baby boy with, went straight towards drugs and alcohol to self soothe his pain after our son’s death, and became quite abusive towards me.

Check out my blog on soothing pain in a healthy way here 

Fear of the unknown kept me in a bad situation for too long.

Looking back, all the red flags and signs were there and I should have divorced him the first time he got physical with me, but I didn’t. I got into my head, yet again, and lured myself into believing that I deserved all the abuse I was receiving from him. Most of the abuse was emotional, mental, and psychological which was honestly far worse than the physical abuse I endured during our marriage. 

At this point, I was lost. I had reached my breaking point. I didn’t want to live anymore and all I wanted to do was to commit suicide. I felt like a worthless mother, wife, and friend. My confidence was gone and I felt at this point it was never coming back.

I no longer accepted who I was because I had shame about all of the terrible things that had happened to me. I had these two beautiful children that I loved with all of my heart but my esteem was so low and my self love was non existent. I had become a shell of a person going through the motions.

I didn’t know how to face the future anymore as I could hardly get out of bed or survive through the day. I had reverted back to being a scared, little, helpless girl and this was not who I wanted to be. There was the me I wanted to be trapped inside screaming and praying for things to change.

A few months later, shocked and in total disbelief, I found out I was pregnant yet again. I knew something needed to change, and it needed to change immediately.

And, boy, did it.

Just a couple of nights later, merely just days after finding out I was going to have another baby, I walked in on my now ex-husband with a rolled twenty-dollar bill, snorting cocaine off the bathroom vanity, while our two-year-old daughter was in the bathtub.

I was done. Enough was enough.

I had reached my rock bottom and I was done tolerating a life with him.  I made a decision in that moment that I was no longer going to put up with his mistreatment and abuse

Nor could I continue to expose my children to this mess. I had taken the abuse because my confidence and self respect was completely shattered, but they deserved better. I deserved better too!

I no longer felt safe so I grabbed my baby, Lillian, out of the tub and called the cops that very moment. He was arrested that night and I filed for divorce the very next day.

Almost immediately my confidence started to improve. I felt like a brave and strong momma because even though I was four months pregnant, with two toddlers at my feet, and I realized the moment I left I was going to be single mommin’ it quite possibly for a lifetime. It didn’t scare me. I knew with God by my side, I could do it.

My confidence began to sky-rocket.

I had hope for the future again.

I felt capable of managing whatever life threw at me.

I knew that no matter what, God had me held and had incredible plans for me. 

I share all of this with you to show you that you can go through tremendous pain and heartache throughout your life, and your confidence completely shattered and stolen from you a million times over, and still find a way to rebuild your confidence, your self-worth, and your ability to love life like you have never loved it before.

It is never too late to feel like a confident, brave, independent woman that the good Lord created you to be.

As you can see, my sweet friend, I have had some terrible things happen to me throughout my lifetime thus far and more than likely you have too. But, I promise you, that together we can rebuild our confidence exactly where we want it to be.

Rebuilding Your Confidence After Trauma.

I have made a simple list of what it takes to rebuild your confidence based on what I had to do to get where I am today.

First of all

1.  Let go of the past and control your present. 

Remember how I told you after my rape I had to CHOOSE to move forward? Nothing could change the fact that I had indeed been gang raped, but I had full control over what you chose to do next. And for me I chose to move forward and rebuild my confidence to be the strong, independent, and brave woman I desired to be.

2. Stop tolerating a life that is less than you deserve.

You do have a choice. You don’t have to let people treat you badly. Don’t wait until you’ve reached “the last straw” to assess your life. And if the people around you are tearing you down it is perfectly ok to put up a boundary and stop the abuse.

3. Have faith that you will be ok. 

I was pregnant with two toddlers and it was scary to leave my husband at the time, but I had to trust that God had a plan for me that was better than this. AND HE DID!

He sent my husband of over 8 years to me while I was still pregnant with my ex husbands child and I have more blessings than I can count because I rebuilt my confidence and got the support I needed to heal. 

If you know you need to heal emotionally from abuse, rape or loss I would love to support your healing journey in my Healing Cocoon program.

healing cocoon a place to heal from the trauma of abuse, rape and loss to feel happy again

Also, if you are looking for a group of amazing and supportive women join Nicole’s Angels, my free Facebook group, where I give tips, encouragement and resources to feel fully alive and live your best life. 

Heal and be happy, 

Nicole Gebhardt

Benefits Of A Morning Routine And Why You Need One

Benefits Of A Morning Routine And Why You Need One

Creating a morning routine helps me with starting my day off in the right direction.

The stress of getting the kids ready for school and out the door in the morning can be a trigger for me and sets the tone for a day in survival mode.

I am sure you can relate to those days that you drag yourself out of bed after a snooze (or two), with no time for a peaceful cup of coffee you head straight into Mom mode. Cue the whining, arguing, frustrations and panic as the clock ticks faster than you can pull it all together.

That is why my sweet friend I want to share this magic little solution of implementing a morning routine into your life. 

Benefits of a morning routine

A Solid Morning Routine Helps Me To:

Focus

Minimize Stress

Feel Confident

Increase My Motivation

Be Less Forgetful

Maintain Control Over My Emotions And Feelings

Feel More Alive 

Live Life To The Fullest

A solid morning routine helps me keep my mind clear and focused so I can stay on task throughout the day. Since I have learned and disciplined myself to buffer in a little “me” time first thing in the morning I give myself a few minutes to visualize and plan out the day before me. 

Doing this simple thing and sacrificing just a small amount of sleep has huge benefits. It minimizes my stress level and helps me feel more confident in the choices I am making for myself and my family, it increases my motivation and energy level because I am less forgetful and feel more in control of my emotions, feelings, and thoughts.

Implementing a solid morning routine has even helped hugely in my relationships with both my husband and my children because I feel more excited, alive, and beautiful when I have a good morning routine in place.

In all honesty, having a thriving morning routine makes me look forward to getting out of bed each and every day and it even helps me to live life to the utmost fullest. It’s a secret sauce to living my best life. 

It wasn’t always this way!

I feel called to share with you what caused me to learn the true benefits of having a morning routine in place.

I will never forget that dreadful Monday morning during one of my husband’s lengthy deployments, while we were still stationed in Savannah and part of the 165th Airlift Wing. We had a preschooler and two toddlers in the home. I remember waking up that morning and feeling so overwhelmed and lost. I was honestly pretty miserable.

The children were all at an age where they needed me almost every second of every day and I was down-right exhausted trying to not only tend to them, but while also trying to maintain a functioning home all on my own while their daddy was deployed overseas.

I quickly reached a breaking point and remember having the thoughts that if I did not gain control of my day soon I was going to start drinking again due to feeling so overwhelmed, lost, and alone.

I sure wish I had listened to my heart, soul, and my mind that day because I quickly became dependent on alcohol yet again.  The last season of alcoholism began the day I found my son, Samuel, lifeless in his crib at the tender age of 9 weeks old, and it didn’t end until the day I found out I was pregnant with my rainbow baby. 

Thankfully, I had a dear friend who was on the leadership board for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) with me, at our church in Savannah, who called me straight out. She immediately encouraged me to put down the bottle and get help. This time I listened, and that very day I made an appointment to start seeing a therapist.

Some of the greatest advice I received after sharing with my therapist, was to implement a morning routine for my family immediately.

I took the advice and I activated a morning routine right away.  Boy did it change my life and in a way, saved my life too.

Here is exactly what I did that made a huge shift toward living my best life. 

    1. I started waking up at the same time each and every morning no matter what.
    2. I would do my quiet time with the Lord
    3. Reflect on the previous day and think about what I could do better
    4. I started working out
    5. Took a shower before the children were even out of bed.

I want to be real with you. Yes, it meant waking up a couple of hours before them, but the benefits of having a healthy morning routine in place made it so worth it.

I even ended up losing a significant amount of weight too!!

As I share this with you, it reminds me of how far I have come by simply implementing a morning routine. As I mentioned above, I now feel more beautiful, healthier, rested, energized and even more ready to take on whatever the new day has to throw at me.

My children and husband have reaped the benefits as well. So, TODAY, I encourage you to go ahead and create a morning routine for your family as well. I promise you will not regret it!!

Positive Affirmations For Healing

Positive Affirmations For Healing

How I have used positive affirmations to heal emotionally from losing a child, sexual abuse, rape and alcoholism

I’m excited to share with you one of my secret weapons to healing my emotional pain. You can empower yourself daily by speaking positive affirmations over yourself to counter attack the emotional suffering you may feel after experiencing abuse or loss. 

 

Did You Know?!

Your brain doesn’t know the difference between reality and what you imagine. Think about it the brain only knows what you experience and tell it. That is why regular repetition of affirming statements about yourself can encourage your brain to take these positive affirmations as fact to reprogram your brain and take your life to the next level.

It’s so important to create and implement positive affirmations into your life, especially if you have been wounded from abuse, rape, or loss. But, obviously the benefits of positive affirmations helps everyone.

You can use affirmations to: 

  • Build belief in yourself
  • Increase your confidence 
  • Increase your self-esteem 
  • Create habitual positive thoughts

Since emotional trauma can put you on the struggle bus of constantly fighting depression, anxiety and dark thoughts, making an effort to use positive affirmations can help you heal and overcome faster.

Affirmations That Are Repeated Frequently And With Feeling Are Most Effective!

Repeating an affirmation can indeed help boost your motivation and confidence, but please remember you still have to take some action yourself. Affirmations are a step towards change, not the change itself. Say it, and then take action like you truly believe it.

Ok, Ok. Let’s back up here.

In all honesty, I use to laugh in disbelief when I would watch a movie or read a book that talked about positive affirmations. Especially positive affirmations for healing. How in the world could writing positive affirmations on sticky notes and then hanging them around your home heal you?

I mean who really does that in real life anyway? Seriously?! 

On top of that how in the heck were positive affirmations going to help me heal from losing a child, rape, sexual abuse and alcoholism? 

It all really sounded bogus to me until one day I sucked it up and actually tried it. 

My life changed that very day and my healing journey finally begun. I know it sounds like I am exaggerating but I’m not. It’s true, and I am telling you this made a huge difference for me.

The first thing I did (in my head; because I wasn’t ready to speak it out yet since it felt so awkward) was, I started listing off ten reasons why I loved myself right after I woke up each morning. I had made an agreement with myself that I would give it 21 days. But, I knew deep down after that very first day I would be doing it for the rest of my life. The healing and mindset change that I needed so badly in my life was almost immediate, as I began to speak those words I so desperately needed to hear out loud. 

Another thing I did after I got out of bed each morning, is I would look into my mirror and say, “I love you, Nicole. You are beautiful, Nicole. You are enough, Nicole”. It was super-duper hard at first. But, after a few days it became easier and easier. 

The crazy thing was after about a month, I started to really believe that I was indeed loved, that I actually was beautiful, and that I truly was enough.

I also began writing in my journal. You know the journal someone gave you for your birthday years ago and you said you would never use it?! Yep, that one. And, little does that person know who gave me that gift, that writing out positive affirmations in the journal likely saved my life because of the action steps I took once I truly believed the affirmations I was telling myself and writing out to myself. The positive affirmations, as well as the empowering habits I began doing (once I believed the affirmations I was saying), with out a doubt helped me start to heal. 

Repeating Affirmations, Writing in my journal and on my mirror is what helped me realize  

  • I was not the reason my 9 week old son died. 
  • The shame I felt from being sexually abused as a child was his to hold not mine
  • That it was also not my fault those fraternity brothers my freshman year at Florida State University raped me even if I was intoxicated
  • Being a recovering alcoholic does not define me.
I started loving life again. 
Feeling empowered. 
Forgiving myself and others from my past. 
I Learned how to turn that frown upside down 
To be get excited about getting out of bed each morning again. 
 

All of this happened by switching my mindset into positive thinking, affirming that I was enough, and taking action with implementing empowering habits so I could heal from the inside out.

So, if you are finally ready to get the help you need to feel like you deserve love, that you are beautiful, you are enough, and you are truly ready to feel empowered then start TODAY with this simple process.  

  1. Stating the affirmation you need to hear to out loud to yourself
  2. Acknowledge any doubt or limiting belief (even though/in spite of…) to take away it’s power
  3. Restate “I know I can/am” 

Do this each and every morning and at night. You can even write it on a sticky note too or ask others you trust to say your affirmations to you as well. I promise you will not regret it and your healing journey will begin!!!

Here Is A List Of 30 Positive Affirmations To Get You Started

 

I also want to invite you to my HEALING COCOON Program. It is 90 Days of training, tips, tools and support to help you heal emotionally from any abuse, rape and loss you have experienced in your life. 

 

Self Soothing Strategies

Self Soothing Strategies

By Nicole Gebhardt

Your Guide To Healing, Hope & Happiness

Self Soothing Strategies: Self Soothing Behaviors I Learned To Calm My Anxiety On My Healing Journey

I am the queen of self-soothing.

For the longest time, and I mean decades, I seemed to always search and find someone or something that I thought would help me heal. Unfortunately, I used negative self soothing strategies to numb my pain instead of dealing with the real issues and doing the work to truly get better, and physically and mentally heal from the inside out. 

Self soothing behaviors became my go to way to cope with anxiety, stress and heartache. Not all self soothing is bad because you can implement healthy self soothing strategies into your life to give you an instant boost. I not only believe in positive self soothing strategies, I use them daily and it is a topic I teach about in my grief healing cocoon program. 

But, before I get more into my own story about self-soothing let me share with you what self-soothing means. Self-soothing is when we use different techniques to help us cope with our struggles, our heartaches, our depressive state, our anxious thoughts and even any physical pain we might be in to help us feel better. The crazy thing is that this is something we learned how to do when we were just babies!! Were you a thumb-sucker? What about a blankie-holder? If so, that was how you self-soothed yourself as a baby and/or child.

 

The Reason We Self Soothe

The reason why we self-soothe is because it is a quick and immediate way to “feel better” and move past any negativity, fear, mental stressors, or even pain we might be feeling in that very moment. In our minds, we think self-soothing is a way to stabilize and overcome our fears. But, the truth and the sad thing is that self-soothing is really never a productive long-term “fix” to the issue or problem.

My way to self-soothe myself has almost always been with alcohol. I had convinced myself for years that alcohol was taking away my pain and “fixing” me. But, my problem was once I started drinking I couldn’t stop. I would literally wake up thinking about alcohol and then pass out at night excited to wake up the very next day and start drinking all over again.

Then one day, my quick fix method to soothe myself came crashing down. I was at my worst point on Infant Loss and Miscarriage Awareness Day just a short one and a half years ago when I fell down two flights of stairs after getting drunk and highly intoxicated.

I had started the day off just fine, so I thought.

Got up. Got dressed. Got the kids to school and even attended my weekly bible study group with fellow military spouses that I met with every week while we were living in DC and stationed at the Pentagon. But, during my time with the other spouses I felt my walls come tumbling down.

I couldn’t stop thinking of my dead son and even the multiple miscarriages I had endured. So after the bible study ended I went home and cracked open a beer…which in turn turned into 5 beers, a bottle of champagne and half a bottle of wine. I later found out I almost killed myself, not because of just my fall but my BAC (Blood Alcohol) level was out the roof. I shouldn’t have ever made it out of the hospital alive.

Looking back, now that I am about to celebrate eighteen months of sobriety,

the truth was the alcohol was no longer helping me, and as you can see it literally became my downfall. I must add right here, I pray and wish that no one ever has to see or find their husband or wife at the bottom of two flights of stairs to recognize that self soothing with substances is not the answer. 

Praise God, I survived to share my story with you today. And I have found much healthier ways to self-soothe. 
  1. I enjoy a fabulous Shirley Temple, or three, with lots of yummy cherries.
  2. I also go watch the sunset each and every night to soothe my soul and ground myself.
  3. Another great thing I do is Reiki Energy Healing on myself each and every morning, noon, and night.

I have found these three things TOGETHER help ease my anxiety, my depression, my PTSD, and it even have helped cure my insomnia.

If you are looking for a place to heal and grow your hope and happiness I want to invite you to my Free Facebook Group Nicole’s Angels. 

 

I want to leave you with this list of ideas for self soothing techniques you can start using today. 

Self Soothing Strategies