How I Control My Anxiety

I’m 32 years old now, and I cannot remember a time in my life without anxiety. I had pretty severe OCD as a child and teenager, and my first symptoms starting showing around age 4. I’ve done therapy, medication, inpatient centers, and so many other things. I credit a lot of my improvement to “I grew out of it” because so many of those treatment options did absolutely nothing but leave me with awful side effects. As the severity of my anxiety issues began to lessen as I got older and my environments changed, I was able to implement some methods that helped curb the lingering remnants.

I drastically changed my diet.

I know this one will undoubtedly get a lot of eye rolls, but it honestly helped me. I went from a pretty bad Standard American Diet to a cleaner Paleo-style diet all the way to a plant based diet. I worked hard on healing my gut biome with fermented foods, kombucha, lots of unprocessed meals, hydration, etc. Boxed foods, ready-made meals, meat, dairy, etc… All gone. I ensure my body is getting the vitamins, nutrients, and calories it needs. B12, vitamin D, plenty of iron and protein. And my physical wellness has improved SO MUCH. That in turn gave me more time and energy to devote to my mental health. It’s hard to feel good in your head when you don’t feel good in your body. They need to be in tune to get the best from both.

I started recognizing intrusive thoughts for what they were.

I used to be so bad about catastrophizing and letting my mind wander into really deep, really dark hypothetical situations. A minor event or comment in my daily life would snowball into something TERRIBLE and, in my mind, inevitable. But none of it was reality. The likelihood of any of those events actually occurring was slim to none, but that seemed irrelevant to my anxiety and fears. The possibility of it happening became so overwhelming that it absolutely smothered out any logic or reasoning.

I eventually started to see through these thoughts and realize that none of my worries were actually happening in that moment. So my high heart rate, sweaty body, and rapid breathing were all a result of “what-ifs.” I then started to work backwards. I could catch myself in the midst of an intrusive thought and remind myself that it was not happening. And it probably wouldn’t happen. And then after a while, I could catch myself at the very beginning stages of those intrusive thoughts. Now, I’m at a point where I can nip those thoughts in the bud right away before they get rolling.

I do a lot of visualization.

It may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely helped me to clear mental space. I imagine my worrisome and intrusive thoughts as being written on a chalkboard or whiteboard, either in word or picture form. I then picture them being erased and turning into dust that gets blown away. Or I sometimes picture my thoughts on paper which is then burned, and the smoke floats away from me and disperses/dissolves completely with no trace.

I learned to meditate.

Dedicating a few minutes throughout the day to refocusing and reestablishing my mental baseline helps me immensely. It’s like starting fresh whenever I need it. I reaffirm my reality and how I feel about myself and what’s around me. I can reiterate my goals for this moment in time, this day, this week, etc. I can dismiss thoughts that don’t serve me in a positive, helpful, or realistic way. It’s a bit like taking a mental shower and rest. Everything is clear and renewed.

After decades of struggles, I’ve now gone an entire year without an anxiety attack. Keep swimming! Don’t give up. Try new things! There is always another day.

My Tips for Helping Struggling Readers

The most important thing for me in our homeschool journey is reading.  The ability to read well and comprehend what’s being read opens up so many avenues for learning!  Access to nearly any topic of interest is readily available today, so learning is simply a matter of taking a few seconds to Google and then BOOM.  It’s all there for you to take in.  The majority of our focus in these first few years has been letters, sounds, basic words, and grasping how to put everything together to read.

But it’s been a bit…awful?  Maybe not awful, but it definitely hasn’t gone as I’d planned!  We spend years (literally years) trying to nail down letter sounds and sight words. We would all be in tears because, “I don’t remember that one!” and, “Why don’t you remember this word you saw two seconds ago?!”  We were going nowhere.  So, I decided to put out some thoughts of my own on what worked for us and truly made a difference.  And also what didn’t work and what I believe actually had a negative impact.

Tip #1 : Wait.  Be patient.

NOW HOLD ON.  I remember reading those same words of advice and rolling my eyes because waiting doesn’t seem to work. Until it does.  Reading for us did not. click. at. all. until we were halfway though our second grade year.  My child was almost 8 before she could even read the most basic sentence.  We started working on letter sounds when she was four.  So, we spent nearly FOUR YEARS working up to a basic reading level.  FOUR YEARS.  Almost half a decade. Don’t tell me I don’t understand the frustration and worry and total WTF-ism of watching your child stumble over “the easy stuff” after thousands of attempts.

Give it time.  If it’s not working, just put it away.  This is one of those epic leaps of trust you have to make in a homeschool journey.  Trust that your child is capable, you are capable, and all you have to do is wait for the right moment.

Tip #2 : Exposure over Memorization

There’s a lot of focus on memorizing letter sounds and sight words.  You’ll see it recommended that you not move onto books until ALL letter sounds are memorized and your child has a huge mental database of words known by sight.

This did not work for us.  Not even a little.

“This is the word GO.”

“Okay.  Go.”

“What’s the word?”

“Ummm, CAN!”


The method that worked best for us was to continuously introduce new sounds and words and reiterate them over and over without any sort of quizzing.  And the best way to do this is…

Tip #3 : Just Let Them Read

Sounds super contrary, right?  I know.  But what I mean by, “Let them read,”  is to grab a simple book, point to each word, and have them repeat the words read by you, one at a time.  Like a tiny echo.

We we got got a a red red ball ball.

I don’t know if there’s a name for this method, but it’s the ONLY thing that has worked for us.  After reading the sentence together, I would go back and phonetically sound out each word and let her decipher the word itself.  By the third or fourth go ’round, she would be able to read/recite the sentence.  After a few weeks of this, she had learned more letter sounds and sight words than ever before and could read *entirely new books* on her own.

Tip #4 : Do Not Let Them Get Stuck

This one is a tricky trap we tend to fall into pretty often as teaching parents.  You introduce a problem or question, ask for an answer, and then wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Because you don’t want to just give them the answer.  But let me tell you!  Just give it to them!  No one gains anything by spending so much time in a state of anxiety and stress.  Every minute of, “I can’t remember,”  is a minute of, “I feel like a failure.”  And that does not a healthy reader make!  Help them sound out the word, help them remember the letter rules, help them recall that word.  Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce!  Continue with the story to create confidence and comprehension.  The memorization will come.

My favorite tools for beginner readers!

Explode the Code – I loved Explode the Code because it was so basic and repetitive.  It really builds confidence and helps with establishing some basic abilities.  Each page only has a few tasks to complete, so it’s not overwhelming.  We started with the A, B, and C books and then progressed to Book 1, Book 1 1/2, and so on.  You can go through them as slowly or as quickly as you want.  They’re also fairly inexpensive.  I passed on purchasing the teachers manual, but the whole set of A, B, and C with the manual is only about $40 on Amazon.  Other websites often have coupon codes of sales to get them even cheaper.

Bob Books – These might be hella boring for some readers, but again, these are excellent confident boosters.  The short sentences are repetitive and really help with CVC words.  Bob Books are fairly popular, so they’re pretty easy to find used for a great deal.

Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems – We borrow these from our local library, but you can also buy them for your home library.  These are a bit more advanced than Bob Books but with the same spiraling style.  Words show up throughout the story over and over helping to solidify new information.  My kids also think they’re really cute and silly, so they truly enjoy getting to read them.

Trying is Enough

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed in the crunchy world. No matter how much you do right, there seems to always be one more thing that you’re falling short of.

Maybe you’ve got your diet down to a science, and your family is running at peak health. But your weekly grocery trips result in mounds of plastic. Maybe you’re cloth diapering for the environment, but your fleece liners are releasing microplastics into the water system with each wash. You DIY your body products but still use store brand laundry detergent. You buy a natural cleaning spray only to learn it’s greenwashed to “artificial fragrance” and back.

The ideal is always out of reach. Or out of your price range. Or out of your comfort zone. Or it’s just something you haven’t managed to get to yet because you’re so busy perfecting another area.

This was something I really struggled with a couple years ago. I still face it from time to time, but I’ve learned to manage that sudden onrush of guilt. Because when you stand back and look at the other people “getting it all right,” you realize that they’re really not. For every person doing this to save the world, there’s another person doing that. The thing we have to remember is that we’re doing something.

If you’re making an effort, devoting the time to research, admitting where you could do better, and just simply trying… Then you’re making a difference! Remind yourself that you are indeed making a change in the world, in your family, in yourself. Continue moving forward, even if it’s slow forward. Even if you fall back a bit or even if you just need a break.

Give yourself grace and love. You’re doing a good job!

Lowcountry Events July 22 – July 28

Lowcountry Events July 22 – July 28

Goose Creek

Monday July 22

  • Microsoft Word Basics – Goose Creek Library, 4pm – 5pm. 325 Old Moncks Corner Rd, Goose Creek, SC 29445

Tuesday July 23

  • Children’s Storytime – Goose Creek Library, 10:30am – 11am or 11am – 11:30am.  All ages, multisensory activities.  325 Old Moncks Corner Rd, Goose Creek, SC 29445
  • Break Out of the Escape Room! – Goose Creek Library, 2pm – 3pm. Ages 10 – 18.  Registration required!  325 Old Moncks Corner Rd, Goose Creek, SC 29445

Wednesday July 24

  • Knotty & Nice – Goose Creek Library Activity Room, 2pm – 4pm.  Bring your own project and share tips, tricks, and convo!  Knit, crochet, embroidery, needlecraft, etc.  325 Old Moncks Corner Rd, Goose Creek, SC 29445

Thursday July 25

  • Color Me Calm – Goose Creek Library Activity Room, 11am – 1pm.  Adults.  Supplies provided, but participants are welcome to bring their own materials.  325 Old Moncks Corner Rd, Goose Creek, SC 29445
  • Writing an Effective Resume – Goose Creek Library, 4pm – 5pm.  325 Old Moncks Corner Rd, Goose Creek, SC 29445


Monday July 22

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406

Tuesday July 23

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406

Wednesday July 24

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406
  • Break Out of the Escape Room! – Hanahan Library, 2pm – 3pm.  Ages 10 – 18.  Registration required!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406
  • Family Friendly Crafting – Hanahan Library Activity Room, 4pm – 5pm.  All ages welcome.  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406

Thursday July 25

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406
  • Children’s Storytime – Hanahan Library Activity Room, 10:30am – 11am.  All ages, multisensory activities.  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406

Friday July 26

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406
  • Aquarium Rovers – Hanahan Library Activity Room, 10:30am – 11:30am.

Saturday July 27

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406
  • Spanish Story Time – Hanahan Library Activity Room, 11am – 12pm.  Children and family friendly, read and sing in Spanish!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406

Sunday July 28

  • Do-It-Your-Selfie Photos – Hanahan Library, All day event. Celebrate summer reading with a fun selfie!  1216 Old Murray Ct, Hanahan, SC 29406

Moncks Corner

Monday July 22

  • $2 Bagels! – Essentials Coffee, while supplies last. $2 bagels (with cream cheese or butter) every Monday.  117 Foxbank Plantation Blvd, Moncks Corner, South Carolina 29461

Tuesday July 23

  • Knittin’ in the Corner – Moncks Corner Library Activity Room, 5pm – 7pm. All ages.  Bring your own materials. 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner, SC 29461

Wednesday July 24

  • Quiltin’ in the Square – Moncks Corner Library Activity Room, 5pm – 7pm. Adults.  Bring your own materials. 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner, SC 29461

Thursday July 25

  • Children’s Storytime – Moncks Corner Library, 10:30am – 11am.  1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner, SC 29461

Saturday July 27