5 Ways To Manage Anxiety
Mental health has always been important to me. For my entire life, I've been interested in how people think and why each individual handles the same situations or circumstances so differently. Life happens and let's be real, just living life is full of traumatic experiences that affect and shape who we are. Like many people in the world, I have been diagnosed with Anxiety.
Let me start by saying, I've likely had anxiety since I was a child. But since being in my adult life it has become progressively worse. For years I was in denial and didn't want to accept it. There is still a huge stigma around mental health and I just didn't want to be a part of the mental health conversation. I didn't want to add on to the statistics. However, there came a time when I couldn't ignore it. My anxiety was becoming debilitating. It was affecting my entire life and I had no choice but to seek help. That's when the diagnosis was made and medication was prescribed. The medicine was a huge help, but a few months after starting the medication I became pregnant. So here we are, I'm five months pregnant with my second child. I have a 3-year-old toddler at home, and a husband who is a saint and always seems to be the calm in my anxious storm. I've done a ton of soul searching, reading, researching, and reflecting; allowing me to discover 5 ways that help me manage my anxiety. I am by no means a medical professional, but hopefully, if you are struggling or relate in some way these tips could help you or someone you know. Ready? Let's go.
Tip #1 - Talk To Someone You Trust
When it comes to mental health, as I said before- there is a huge negative stigma. But we have to overcome that. We have to talk about it. You see, unlike physical health issues, mental health isn't always as obvious to our friends or family. The stresses, overwhelming feelings, destructive self-talk, and even thoughts of self-harm are all internal. They are thoughts or phrases that cycle over and over and over again in our minds, causing us to believe this story of who we are that is so often untrue. Being able to have someone ( a best friend, a spouse, a therapist, a family member), anyone who you can trust and who will pour love, encouragement, and truth into you, you need that person. There have been so many times where my anxiety has caused me to have a full-blown panic attack. But after coming out of the panic attacks and talking through what triggered it with my close family or friends, I've realized that my level of overwhelm could have been less had I spoken up sooner. I now have a system that when I feel myself getting overwhelmed or anxious, I immediately let my husband know so that we can pause, talk about what is happening internally for me, and work together to calm my anxiousness down prior to it getting out of control. Being able to speak to someone in the moment who doesn't judge you and genuinely cares about you is truly a blessing. Get you that person!
Tip #2 - Give Yourself Grace
Remember that you are HUMAN. No matter what your age is, older or younger- I've learned that every day is a day we have never experienced. It's a day where we are all just trying to make it. Nobody has life figured out, no matter what they may say. So talk to yourself with that perspective. That you are a person, a person who is trying, a person who hasn't given up, a person that is navigating life. Imagine if your child, niece, or nephew was being terribly hard on themselves because they couldn't tie their shoes. You would give them grace. You would see their efforts and you would speak love and encouragement over them. Treat yourself the same way. In reality, there isn't much of a difference between the two situations. We are just a little older. We also need and deserve love and encouragement from ourselves, and others around us.
"God has given you grace. Maybe you should give yourself some too" – Todd Stocker
Tip #3 -Organize and Edit Your Environment
Okay, this tip I could talk about for hours and hours! I may actually do an entire blog post or a few on this topic specifically. Your environment impacts you. It truly does. Anxiety is the constant chaos of the mind. Sometimes we have to look at our living spaces (bedrooms, bathrooms, offices, living areas) and our calendars and friendships/relationships to see how much chaos we have going on around us. If our environment is chaotic then we are going to absorb that. Take time to edit your environment. What is serving you? What is benefiting you? What makes you feel more light or calm? What is giving you energy versus taking energy away from you? If that is fewer friendships or fewer commitments on your calendar to create space for clarity and relaxation then make that happen. If your home is filled with clutter or things you don't need- declutter the space. Less clutter and clear spaces automatically make people feel less anxious. You know yourself better than anyone, so ask yourself what it is you want your environment to feel like. Write it down. And become intentional as you edit your environment. For me personally, you can ask anyone. I don't like an overly hectic or busy schedule. I love nurturing relationships and spending time with my loved ones just as much as I love being home on the couch with a good book, my bible, or trash reality television show. So I intentionally say yes or no to calendar commitments or new friendships to make sure that I don't overwhelm myself. I also get very triggered by clutter. I like clarity in every space I'm in. Whether it's our playroom, bedroom, or kitchen- I'm very intentional about the space and how it feels. If I feel like the space is getting too overwhelming, I edit it. You are in control of your environment, maybe you just need a reminder.
Tip #4 -Aromatherapy
Ahh aromatherapy. Who doesn't love diffusing essential oils or the aroma of a favorite candle filling a space? When we walk into a space with a pleasant scent, our mood is uplifted! Just like the opposite can happen. A foul smell can instantly turn your positive mood into a negative one. This is science people. It's proven. Use scents that you love or that promote a mood you are wanting to bring out. Lavender is so good for calmness or stillness. But there are so many options. I'm a sucker for clean scents in my home, but for winding down and relaxing from the day I love more calm scents. I diffuse many essential oils in my home and use them within our family routine. My daughter has been rubbing lavender oil on herself since she came out of the womb. It's our bedtime ritual. When dealing with anxious tendencies, aromatherapy can certainly help.
Tip #5 -Do Something You Enjoy
The last step, I know it sounds easy, but with life responsibilities sometimes "things we love" get put on the back burner. Let's put an end to this. Prioritize your days or weeks with things you enjoy! If that's reading, make time to read! If it's a craft, make time to craft! If it's cooking a new recipe, then cook that new recipe. For me, I love to color, love to read, love to do puzzles, I love listening to podcasts, I love to write, I love so many things. Some weeks I don't get to do everything I love but I do make sure I do something that I enjoy at least once a day. It helps me to feel balanced. We do so much for our families, for our workplace, and for our friends- but remembering to take time to fill up your own cup is just as important if not more important.
What Works For You?
Try these tips out and let me know if they work for you! Share what you do to manage your own anxiety. If there's a topic from this list you'd like to hear more about, let me know that too!
Thanks so much for reading. Talk soon, friends!