You Are Not Alone!
Debilitating. Paralysing. Crippling.
Most days I wake up with a million things on my mind. I want to be the best that I can be, I want to accomplish so much. These thoughts are short lived and I am overcome by an overwhelming heaviness.
Anxiety has the power to manipulate even the most positive, ambitious, and resilient of person. The effects are both physically and emotionally painful and can come when you least expect. Anxiety does not need an invitation, and often for me, comes untriggered.For over a decade, I have been living with a ( doctor diagnosed) Chronic Anxiety Disorder.
We all know someone who thinks that anxiety is not real. That is an excuse for lazy people. That labelling ourselves as having anxiety is just our attempt at a way out. I have heard it all. The stigma is real. For many of my friends and family, this post will be the first time that I have openly admitted this. I am not ashamed nor do I consider it to be a weakness- I am simply sick of hearing “you don’t act like you have anxiety” from even the most educated of people. Having anxiety is not something to justify, or to convince others as being a legitimate battle being fought. For everyone out there who suffers from anywhere from mild to extreme anxiety- I believe you! I know that everyday you face new struggles, and I know that you will come out much stronger because of it.
When I was first diagnosed with Chronic Anxiety, my family doctor prescribed medication after medication. Nothing was working for me. The medications, though numbing the anxiety, essentially numbed the rest of my personality at the same time. I was not me, and was constantly feeling groggy and sick. I had even tried different ‘programs’ and ‘support groups’, though again, no success. After graduating from my second degree, I moved to England and was forced to be completely independent. It was then that I decided to start changing my lifestyle, attitude, and learned how to cope with my anxiety naturally. I will always have anxiety, and I will always be caught off guard by the spontaneous migraines and panic attacks, but I now know how to deal with my condition in a more productive manner.
Here are some methods for living with anxiety that work for me:
A cuddle with a furry friend (or scaley.. whatever floats your boat), is an immediate anxiety killer. Therapy animals are used in many circumstances with people of all needs and ages. The unconditional love that an animal has for you is enough to bring your heart rate right down, and restore peace in your body. This is the perfect excuse to get up and go to your local humane society! Save an animal and in turn they will save you!
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy! Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.. they just dont!” Wise words spoken by Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. In this case though, ‘happy people just don’t have anxiety as often’ would be more appropriate. Get moving. Give yourself a stretch break or take a 10 minute walk. Get your blood racing and your heart pumping in order to reduce the risk of an anxiety attack or mental fatigue.
Yoga/ Meditation/ Breathing
When I was younger, I could not believe how Yogi could lay so still in savasana. My friend and I would giggle and move our limbs restlessly as the rest of the class tuned us out completely. Well, I get it now. It has nothing to do with being tired and needing a rest, but rather training your body to appreciate the moment that you are in. To focus on your breaths and to learn to find peace within. All three of these things go hand in hand, and once mastered can all be crucial to the taming of your anxiety.
Healthy fats, fiber, protein, and natural sugars are all necessary for your body to function properly. Find foods that give you healthy energies in order to avoid burn out. Sounds like a no brainer, but eating processed foods will only jeopardize your mental and physical health, especially if you struggle with anxiety. Eat clean!
Quality versus quantity is important to remember here. I have been burned by people close to me, only to discover that many people do not provide you with a quality friendship. Choose a person(s) who genuinely care about you and will be there to offer you support and comfort without keeping tally. Your support system must understand that you may need them in the middle of the night, may need some comforting words or just a listening ear. Choose this system wisely and appreciate them beyond words!
‘I Can’ Mentality
It is inevitable that you will have days where you want to give up. Whether you have anxiety or not, this will happen. Your attitude can be more powerful than the anxiety that you battle everyday. Learn to train your mind into being positive, happy and motivated. Take as many breaks as you need, but make sure that you do not let your anxiety derail you from your journey. You can.
This a great place to start when it comes to learning how to naturally get hold of your anxiety. Of course, there are many other ways to cope, but this is the foundation of how you can learn how to live with your anxiety. There will always be skeptics and people who will try undermine your struggles. Ignore them, as you are incredibly brave for taking the first step in realising that you can live with your condition.
You got this!