Anxiety, It Ebbs and Flows
Remember the days when the topic of anxiety was taboo and you were under the impression it was just you and were constantly asking God why he/she made you this way? Yea me either. Honestly, I didn’t even know what I was feeling had a word the majority of my life which is in short, insane. These days you can’t scroll through Instagram without a relatable “my anxiety has anxiety” meme. In retrospect, I’ve pretty much suffered from some form of it my entire life. I remember being a painfully shy kid, not wanting people to look at me or I’d begin to feel uncomfortable. When it was time to sing and cut the cake on my birthday, I’d routinely hide under the table (sorry mom & dad, I definitely robbed you of some would be precious moments for a minute there).
Over the years these social anxieties manifested into an immense fear of loss and something terrible happening to my friends and family. Sometimes I’d just sit in my room and play “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men on repeat and cry at the very thought of losing someone I loved. Normal behavior for a nine-year-old? Debatable. Cut to being a teenager, an already soul sucking time period filled with change and pressure, and having one of these life-altering traumas actually happen. In the words of modern day hero, Brené Brown, all that worrying and catastrophizing never prepares you for the real thing, it just robs you of fully enjoying the present (or words to that effect). I thought the world was surely ending, at least mine was. Spoiler alert- it didn’t.
I’d like to consider myself an extremely resilient person, but I’d be lying if I said life didn’t get the best of me sometimes. I’m hardly unique, my struggle with anxiety ebbs and flows, moments when it’s been debilitating and others when it’s been fleeting. Working on my mental health will be a daily practice for the rest of my life and I’m at peace with that. The open conversation surrounding it inspires me and I love hearing other people's stories of strength, self love, and overcoming personal struggle.
Nothing is more cringe worthy than articles suggesting you “paint your nails and have a cup of tea” to combat it (how am I supposed to steadily apply nail polish when I feel like the four walls are closing in on me, Susan?) However, implementing certain routines to your daily life can be helpful. Listen, simply existing in this world can be ROUGH and that’s an understatement. It goes without saying that in certain circumstances medication and therapy are invaluable, but anything that can be done to help ease the inevitable stress that comes with the human experience, I’m here for it. I’m not an expert and am still learning what works for me.
1) Lay Off The Caffeine and Alcohol
I love coffee and wine but sometimes they don’t love me back. Jitters from too much coffee are no joke and I’d prefer not to feel like my heart is racing on the daily. I stick to one cup, or half a cup a day if I’m feeling a little off. My first major anxiety attack was a direct result of a next level hangover caused by too much wine and not enough damn hydration the night before. Turns out the one water for every drink rule should be taken very, very seriously.
No brainer but the combination of sweating, releasing endorphins, and blocking out time to zone out for a bit really helps improve my mindset.
I'm definitely not CBD obsessed, but it’s helped in a pinch. My personal favorites are gummies because I’m a recovering sugar addict and it gives me my fix in addition to tasting delicious. Some people find CBD to be tiring. I personally haven’t experienced that but I would suggest testing it out at night to start.
I’ve done acupuncture in the past, initially for pesky chronic hip pain but would dedicate the beginning of the session for a whole body reset to calm me down. It’s hard to keep up and if your insurance doesn’t cover it because it’s not cheap. I have to admit, I would come out of the session feeling far less anxious than I was when I walked in
5) Gratitude Journal
Taking the time to write down five things you’re grateful for from the day is a great way to gain some perspective and end the day with positivity before winding down for the night.
Oprah and Deepak Chopra have a great, free 21 day meditation program. Truthfully, I’m horrible at meditating but putting in the effort to quiet your mind while listening to zen instrumentals can make even the most restless minds begin to feel more chill
7) Acknowledging You’re Not Alone
Listening to podcasts and reading stories about other people’s journeys is comforting. The following are a good place to start:
8) Digital Detox
I’ll say it- I love my phone. I’m always scrolling and pinning aggressively on the reg but I definitely know when it’s too much of a good thing, if ya know what I mean. It’s so easy to fall into the ole’ comparison trap of “Why don’t I have my shit together like that?”, “How do they afford to hop around Europe 3x a year?”, “Why don’t I own an entire brownstone in Brooklyn Heights!?”. It’s totally ridiculous and if you tell me you’ve never succumbed to this pettiness, I don’t believe you. It’s human nature to be nosey and in the age of information, it’s too damn easy. Sometimes you need to step away, center yourself, and remember how fucking fantastic your life is inspite of the imperfections.
9) Staying True To Yourself And Sitting STUFF OUT
I’m not saying skip your cousins wedding, but if you think a certain social event or obligation will be too overwhelming, don’t go...within reason of course.
Again, there’s no right way to deal with it. Everyone’s story and journey is different. I’m just learning what works and doesn’t as I go.