Although I may be known as a Positive Pagan, I myself have my moments of dealing with anxiety as our worlds shift daily with new information. It can get dark pretty quickly, as anxiety and past trauma seek to overwhelm me as I try to move forward. The darkness can threaten to engulf me, but the life raft of witch tools stays within reach, and I use them to make it to to the shore of calm. As states phase re-openings after a long period of quarantine, the thought of what’s ahead can fill me with anxiety.
What works for me are a variety of methods and actions that keep me breathing and moving. I find that when anxiety hits, my breathing gets shallow, my sternum starts aching, and my pulse starts racing. It can be overwhelming, and yes, there are days where I simply do nothing but give into that moment. Most of the time however, like a drill, I know what to do by muscle memory, and it gets me back to center.
Center and ground
The first thing I do is to center myself with breathing, and ground myself. I run to a patch of grass, run outside to hug a tree, or go outside and look at nature. If I am stuck inside, nature videos will do. If you do not have a regular practice of centering and grounding, please learn how. It can be as simple as walking barefoot in the grass, four part breathing, shaking your hands rapidly (as if you are flinging water off your hands), or rubbing your hands together quickly to feel the warmth and energy. Nature tends to ground me the quickest, and I focus on my breathing. Try practicing these when you are not feeling anxious, so that it becomes an automatic action that you can turn to when needed.
My most treasured item is a hunk of tourmaline. Its weight feels soothing in my hand. If that is not available, I dab on some Florida Water, protection spray or a lemon. Lemon works for me because it reminds me of my grandmother and safety, so whatever works for you in that moment, have it readily available. Keep it in its own spot, so you can grab it and hold on.
Straight to my altar I go, to light a candle, and to lose myself in its flame. Gazing into a candle flame can help soothe and calm, and it helps steady your breath (otherwise, you’d blow it out!) I find I can breathe more easily as I gaze upon my offering to the deities who have guided me so far. Why don’t I trust? I know they guide and protect me, so why am I panicking? Merely mortal is my answer, and I always feel that I have to do things alone. My altar reminds me that I am not by myself, and sooner or later that answer creeps in, no matter what state I am in, or how long it seems to last.
Oh, how I hate bothering people with my woes. I immediately recoil at the thought, but I also know I have good friends, confidants and support available, so I get over myself and contact them. Sometimes they can help, and sometimes it is just good to get outside my head and talk to someone who is looking at my circumstances differently. I am in the thick of the weeds, and they are outside that area, cheering me on, and lifting up my spirits.
My main rule of thumb is that I try not to look at the Big Picture of things. I break whatever is happening down to the next five minutes. If I go down the rabbit hole of ALL the things that can happen, or the whole grand landscape of what’s before me, I know that is like quicksand, and it will engulf me. I can focus on the next five minutes, do some sort of action, and feel better.
No, I haven’t come up with spellwork for anxiety, but the action of working on a spell helps focus and center me. Feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what I am supposed to be doing? I can work on a spell to bring clarity to that. I take the aspect of my anxiety and flip its focus onto something I can bring into my life. Research, correspondences, and writing all help to ground and center me as I work through my panic.
A magical bath with salt and herbs can help soothe and relax. If you only have a shower, place the items in a cotton or mesh bag and let the steam soothe you. Lavender, epsom salts, rosemary, Florida water, protection oils: whatever calls to you, add it. It helps re-direct your mind, and your body will be soothed as you relax in the water.
Most of the time, I do this mentally, but I also keep a written daily gratitude journal. At the start, it can seem like a useless endeavor, but by the time I am down to item 11 or 15, I feel the tension loosening, and gratitude starts replacing the big chunks of anxiety in my body. Be as creative as you’d like with gratitude, write on leaves, use a stones or clear glass beads and fill a cup, create a gratitude tree on your whiteboard.
Hopefully, these tips helps you as you govern the re-openings happening in your area. Practice whatever feels right to you, and may they guide you in the coming weeks. Blessed Be!