A few weeks ago I shared in my Monday email that my anxiety had been kicking up lately, especially that past weekend. And I just wanted to say, I never write anything expecting a response or searching for one either, but all of the sweet messages I got were so nice, so thank you.
I wanted to come on here and talk about some of the things I do when I find myself in a bout of anxiety.
[But first I just want to start by saying, everyone's anxiety it different, and what works for me might not work for you. And I know my anxiety is pretty mild in comparison to what others are dealing with. This isn't a competition. I'm just doing my part in normalizing conversations about it.]
My anxiety has been so much better lately then it was back in 2012/2013. And I attribute that improvement to some lifestyle changes:
+ getting out a relationship
+ quitting hormonal birth control
+ going vegan
+ getting into yoga/meditation/journaling
+ starting FemmeHead
I’m not an expert, nor probably very well informed when it comes to anxiety, but I think a lot of mine revolved around performance, not being good enough, or the fear of failing at life. And I still get bouts of this to this day.
This wave of “what the hell are you doing?” will wash over me and I’ll find myself questioning all of my decisions and having this sense of "I’m going to fail, and it’s going to happen soon."
[Now, I really don’t want to offend anyone by any of my recommendations, because I know anxiety varies so much, and in no way am I saying you’re not trying hard enough. Everyone has to learn to handle their anxiety in the way that works for them. This is just what has worked for me.]
So, in no particular order:
+ Journal — I find it helps so much to just get everything I’m thinking out of my head an onto paper. Not only does it help to clear my mind but it helps me work through things.
+ Clean up my space — For me a cluttered space = a jumbled mind, and I find that not only is cleaning soothing for me but having a clean space helps so much with my mental well-being. Having a clear space gives me a sense of having my shit together.
+ Meditate — I started meditating regularly during a particularly bad bout of anxiety surrounding working at the bar/restaurant. My mind races when the anxiety gets bad, running through all sorts of scenarios and such. I find that getting into the practice of being able to slow down and even clear my mind with meditation is so beneficial.
+ Cut back on caffeine — I try to keep my daily intake to one cup before noon, but I find that one of the worst things I can do for myself when I’m feeling anxious is to drink more than one cup. (It’s a calming ritual to have something warm to sip on, but when the caffeine kicks in it’s not so calm). I try to switch to caffeine free tea.
+ Pamper myself — This sounds trivial, but I find that if I set aside some time to take a nice hot bath, put on a face mask, do my nails or something to take care of myself really does help.
+ Go for a run — Your exercise of choice might be something else but just being able to get out and blow off some steam, push yourself all feels great. Plus being outside in nature is good for my anxiety too.
+ Write out a brainstorm list — This is something I did this last time. I sat down in my bed with my notebook and just wrote out everything I could think of that would help get ahead in life. Because this last time my anxiety was coming from fear of career failure and money I focused on everything I could do to take that next step forward. And I have to say this was one of the best things I did for myself.
+ Meet up with a friend — I’ve been doing a great job this past year or two of getting together regularly with friends and family, but sometimes being social with someone you really enjoy being around is nice. Bonus if it’s a friend you can talk through things with. My friend I had coffee with a few weeks ago was so lovely and empathetic, and it’s nice to talk to someone you know gets what you’re going through.
+ Talk through my “escape plan” — I don’t know about you but when I’m going through anxiety or depression I always have this escape route in mind. "If all else fails I can do this." Whether that’s 'go get a regular job' or 'buy a van to live in,' I like to let myself mentally play out that scenario and really go through whether that’s something I would want. And often it’s not. I mean I would love to build out a sprinter van one day to have for travel, but I really love my life and so that’s what I want to work on maintaining.
+ Take action — Finally, it’s probably one of the hardest things to do when you have anxiety, but getting over that hump of fear and cracking down on something is what I find helps get me out of that slump. Sometimes my anxiety will crop up when I’m getting too stagnant in life, and it’s almost telling me to take that next step no matter how much it scares me. And I’ve found that once I started taking action things started falling into place. And I feel so much more jazzed about life and work now than before my anxiety showed up.
Once again, my anxiety is probably much different than others, and there’s no doubt that others are suffering way more than I am. I’m thankful for my mild anxiety, and even though it sucks when it’s happening I’m so grateful it is where it is at now compared to five years ago.