Anxiety is not something that I’ve ever been familiar with until recently. It’s something I am still trying to navigate and some days are much better than others. I believe in my heart that this is just a temporary season that I am walking through and I am doing my best to be proactive so that I can manage it now.
I know many people who experience extreme anxiety and have been going through it for such a long time. I was never able to fully understand it until I began experiencing it for myself. I wouldn’t say that my anxiety is extreme, but it’s definitely weighed on me mentally and emotionally over the last few months. Mine tends to happen the most in the middle of the night, which then leads to sleepless hours of spiraling thoughts. Before I know it, it’s 8am and I wake up exhausted with minimal energy. That then sets the tone for the rest of my day.
I started playing the “why me?” game without even being aware of it and let me tell you, that is not a version of me that I like at all. Those thoughts can be paralyzing and the last thing that I want is to carry around that kind of energy. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” I am trying to replace that with “What is this teaching me?” It’s challenging because when you’re in that moment of anxiety it becomes difficult to control your thoughts, but I am so determined to kick its ass right back.
When I first opened up about this on Instagram Stories a month or so ago, I got tons of replies with tips on how to cope with anxiety. It’s not as easy as saying “do all these things and you won’t have anxiety anymore” – but I believe just like anything else it’s something that you need to work on. Today I’m sharing 5 things that I’m doing to help with anxiety and my hope is that some of these things can help you too.
A sweet soul on Instagram, Miriam, sent me The Contentment Journal by Rachel Cruze. It’s a 90-day journal focused on gratitude, humility and contentment. Each month starts out with one of those themes and then over the course of four weeks, it prompts you to take a deeper look at your relationships, lifestyle, career, personal development, money and time through the lenses of gratitude, humility and contentment. This is such a beautiful way to pause, reflect and thank God for all of your blessings. It’s essentially a 90-day commitment that you are making to yourself and it allows you to look back on the previous months to see the growth that you’ve made.
Out of all the tips that I received, journaling was one of the most popular ones. Whether you buy an actual journal, list out all the things you’re grateful for or just jot down your thoughts on a piece of paper, the act of writing can be extremely therapeutic. There is this mental release in thinking about what I am feeling and then transferring that over to paper. It’s almost as if its giving my brain a moment to rest. Try incorporating this into your daily routine. Make it be the first thing that you do when you wake up (no Instagram scrolling) or have it be the last thing that you do before going to bed.
IDENTIFY YOUR TRIGGERS
It’s taken some time, deep reflection and a lot of praying, but I think I’ve finally understood the root cause of my anxieties and what my triggers have been. I’m going to keep that private for myself, but will say that identifying them has been an essential part of learning how to manage my anxiety. Sometimes we don’t understand why we are feeling the way that we are feeling and then that uncertainty can cause us to be even more anxious. There is so much power in knowing.
It can take a long time to identify your triggers and you might not be able to do it on your own. I was kind of blown away by the amount of people who said they speak with a therapist. I don’t think this is talked about enough and I really appreciated those who felt comfortable enough to share that with me. The last time I spoke with a therapist was years and years ago when my parents were going through a divorce. At that time, I didn’t think that therapy was right for me.
So much has changed in my life since then and I went through such a traumatizing experience with losing my father in my 20s. I never saw a therapist after he died and tried to take it all on myself, so I definitely have some deep rooted issues there. I always try to handle everything on my own, but I’ve learned that it is OK to ask for help. That doesn’t make me weak. While I haven’t yet seen a therapist, I am definitely way more open to it. I can clearly see the benefit of therapy now and how that can be such an integral part of acceptance and helping you to be a healthier you.
A few different techniques were recommend to me like alternate nostril breathing and box breathing. The slow, deep breaths are supposed to help heighten performance and concentration while also relieving stress.
The technique that I have been using the most, especially at night, has been the 4-7-8 technique. This is how it works – breathe in quietly through your nose for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 7 seconds. Exhale forcefully through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat the cycle up to 4 times. Try it out and let me know what you think!
TAKING SOCIAL MEDIA BREAKS
I recently took a week off of Instagram. That’s a long time for me, especially since it’s such a huge part of my job. Being present and consistent with my content is important. The last thing that I want to do is distance myself from the community that I have built, but I realized these little breaks are also an important part of taking care of myself. Creating that distance away from it gives me more of an opportunity to focus on ME and to process whatever it is that I am feeling. I can then come back to it with a clearer mind and fresh perspective.
Social media can definitely be a trigger and if it is then you need to know when to take a step back from it. The internet can be such an empowering and inspirational space that connects you with people you can truly relate to. At the same time though it can also breed negativity, comparison and self-doubt. If at any point you feel it’s taking a toll on your well-being and self-esteem, know that it is OK to take breaks.
This is one of those things that I think you need to research on your own to see if it would be a good fit. A lot of people recommended it to me, while others said that they were afraid to try it because they have anxiety of something happening to them. I tried it out for myself and can share the ways in which it personally helped me.
I had been hearing about CBD oil and its benefits for such a long time. I was sent this one from CBD For Life in a PR package several months ago, but it was just sitting in my closet. I didn’t really think that I had a reason to try it out. When my anxieties started coming to the surface, I took some time to do a little research and read all of the reviews on this particular product. I finally decided to try it for myself.
The one I used has a peppermint flavor. You use the dropper to put the oil under your tongue and it’s recommended to hold it there for about 60 seconds or so before swallowing. You can use it 1-2 times a day and there’s a total of 30 uses. It lasted me a couple of weeks. I can say first hand that it helped my body feel more relaxed and I actually slept much better. If I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, it was easier for me to fall back to sleep. I felt less anxious when I woke up in the morning. It’s said that there can be minor side effects, but I didn’t personally experience any. I would definitely take it again to help when needed, but it’s not something that I want to have to rely on either.
A FEW OTHER THINGS TO TRY
- Exercise/Going for a run
- Headspace and Calm apps
- Youtube relaxation methods
- Listening to calming music
- Using essential oils
- Less caffeine
I went back and forth on writing this post, especially since anxiety is still new territory for me, but in the spirit of being proactive I wanted to open up this conversation. Talking openly about it is so helpful. It opened my eyes to seeing how many people struggle with it, some more than others. As I mentioned at the beginning, I know it’s not a simple thing to overcome, but I do believe there are ways to manage it and regain some control. So let’s be a resource for one another. What are some of the ways that you try to cope with anxiety? I’d love to know about the things that work for you. Thanks so much for reading and for allowing me to share these personal moments. ❤️