4 Ways I handle Anxiety
In light of Mental Health Awareness month - I thought I'd shed light on a topic that most public figures don't normally talk and something that affects me and many of you. Lately, i've been overwhelmed with all the moving parts in my life that has caused me to feel uneasy, on edge, nervous, anxious, and above all else, stressed af.
I truly became aware and more knowledgeable about anxiety - the feeling, the disorder, the issue.. in 2015 when it affected me personally. At the busiest point in my life, I was having severe chest pains on and off for weeks until I had enough and saw a doctor. I was then told I was experiencing rhythms of anxiety and was hit with the MANY ways I can manage/treat my anxiety and stress. I was all "what??" Confused and curious and threw myself into research with mental health, meditation, depression, etc. I began following influencers in this area and becoming more aware of it.
The topic became a sensitive one for me where I felt empathy for my friends, family, strangers, and followers who would talk to me about it. Since then, i've worked really hard at trying to find what works for me and what helps me in those anxious moments. We also deal with different societal pressures therefore what works for me may or may not work for you. There's no blueprint to it.
My anxiety went through phases. I experienced (still do) paranoia, where I didn't feel safe in public places such as the movies, on the train, walking down the street, at concerts, pretty much anywhere and would feel this outer body experience of just anxiety running through my entire body. I would panic and sometimes cry. Then, I felt anxiety in big rooms filled with lots of people. I couldn't focus and couldn't behave normal. I felt that "alone yet surrounded by people" feeling. And then, the one that became a big problem was my social anxiety. I felt uncomfortable meeting new people in crowded rooms or sometimes meeting my followers and feeling socially awkward. Conversation wouldn't flow as normal and it really affected me.
I can honestly say I am much better now with coping. It took some time to learn what works for me and understanding these feelings. I want to share what worked for me and hopefully if you suffer from anxiety, it can help you as well.
See a therapist
I know that sometimes this isn't an easy solution as there are other factors that won't allow this such as insurance, availability, etc. But if you can, I highly suggest you explore the idea of a therapist. Therapy absolutely changed my life. I was able to step outside of myself and really understand the factors that were causing my anxiety. With the help of my therapist, I completed exercises or he would call it "homework" that really helped me handle those anxious feelings in the moment. If you can't see a therapist, choose a friend who is neutral and not so involved in your every day life and talk to them. Unbiased advice is the best.
This was a tough one. As humans addicted to all things - our phone, music, netflix, going out, etc we never really take a moment to just be. I taught myself to be still. I would unplug often and let me tell you, it works. It can be difficult to control your thoughts or your mind but with practice, you'll get there. Sit on a chair, sit on your bed, lay on a yoga mat, or lay on your bed and just be. Work your way up from 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and so on. It helps me get centered and I can almost feel my anxiety lessen and lessen.
Talk to yourself
In those moments where I can't handle it, where the feeling becomes too much and so strong, I talk myself out of it. Sounds absolutely insane but it works for me. The conversation is almost "it's okay. It's just a feeling. It will pass. You're okay. You got through the last time, this one is nothing. It's just in your head and you're okay." With a side of lots of breathing, this helps me every time.
Don't distract yourself
We can sometimes have a bad habit of avoiding our feelings. We keep our schedules fully booked and we continue to make plans to either go out or be with our friends. Sometimes we avoid being alone and invite someone over. Or the moment silence hits, we play music to distract our self. What works for me is staying home. Staying in my comfort zone and my safe haven, forces me to confront my feelings and understand them. It avoids me from putting that bad juju out in the world and giving my bad energy off to someone else. I stay home, sometimes for days until I feel better and then I rejoin the world. Sometimes you just need to deal with it.
There are so many other tips I can share but these are important lessons I learned through the years and have helped me. Anxiety is a terrible thing and it can really affect people severely. It's not to be joked about or taken lightly. Pay attention to your family, friends, or significant other and try to understand them.