7 Steps To Manage Your Anxiety
Mental illness is already a stigma in the United States. We talk about physical injury and people will have empathy. When you mention you suffer from anxiety/depression/any other mental issue, people think you're crazy or that there is something wrong with you. They don't know what to say or act indifferent. There's nothing wrong with us who have it, we have something that chose us and we have to find the strength within us to overcome it.
For those that are struggling with this, you are not alone. As a person who struggled with anxiety as a child and throughout my adult life, it is one of the main things I have to manage everyday. Before you judge, it's more common than you think-and well if you don't suffer from it, you're absolutely lucky.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems for millions of Americans, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness. You probably talk to someone everyday who struggles with it. You probably don't even know it. For those that suffer from it, I understand you and I hope that you realize that you're not crazy, and there are ways to manage it. I want to share with you my personal experience and how I manage my own anxiety. Remember this is my personal experience and we all differ, I am not a therapist nor have a license to diagnose anyone. I am telling you my personal experience and how I manage it. If you want to know how you can manage yours, I always recommend seeking help from a professional. With that said, let me explain to you first some of my background.
I didn't know what anxiety was or what panic attacks were. I didn't realize what the panic attacks were when I was having them. It felt like I was dying and I couldn't breathe. It felt like I was losing my mind and I didn't know how to stop it. This would happen in the shower, in class, before class, during a class presentation, when I was hanging out with friends, before bed and I would wake up having them. Basically, everywhere and every single hour of the day.
Panic Attacks and Diagnoses
Panic attacks come without warning and it feels like you are losing yourself. You are losing control and you literally feel like you are dying. I had no idea what I was going through, I would research these symptoms on the internet, trying to desperately figure out what the hell was happening to me. I was suffering in silence until a year later. I ended up seeking therapy and found out that I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Throughout the years, I find myself suffering for some time and talking to a therapist every year or so.
How I Manage My Anxiety & How You Can Manage Yours
It can be scary at first, and finding the right therapist can be difficult. In my experience, the first time I went to see a therapist, I was seventeen and closed-minded. I didn't initially like my therapist and I stopped going after that one visit. I also thought I can overcome it all by myself so I didn't think there was a use for a therapist. That lasted two years and I was back struggling trying to find resources and unfortunately, my anxiety got worse. After talking about it with my friend and my doctor, I was referred to my therapist and they helped me develop skills and tools to manage some of my anxiety. Now I said some anxiety because therapy didn't heal my anxiety forever. It didn't magically make it disappear with a pill (although they can medicate you if it's going to help you) but therapy was there to help me find out what I was suffering, understand the triggers that caused it and develop the skills to overcome my next anxiety episodes. Try seeking a therapist and be open minded, I kind of "shopped around." If you don't feel like there is a connection, find someone else. There's someone there to listen and help you without judgement professionally.
Do Some Type of Movement
Get some type of exercise in. It doesn't have to be at the gym, lifting weights or working out for six hours straight. It could simply be going out for a run for ten minutes, working out at home with YouTube videos, doing karate or whatever. Get your body moving, it will help ease and release your nerves and brain. There's some science behind this. Getting some movement in your daily life will help you feel relieved according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. It helped me feel better. Click on the link for more fitness tips from ADAA.
This was something that I learned on my own that I even taught my own therapist, or they said. I became more mindful of the present moment and tried to let go of trying to control. I found an app about mindfulness and it would give you a topic of the day and reminded every hour for you to stay mindful. It would remind me to constantly check the time, constantly focus on my breath or just something that were not my own thoughts. It would help my brain come back to focus to the present time and to relax. I recommend finding any mindfulness app and shop around to find the best one that suits you.
Becoming more mindful can be a form of meditation. It helps you relax and to just be present. I mentioned mediation on another post of Cozy Things To Do On A Rainy Day. However, meditation can seriously can help you manage your anxiety. Similar to becoming mindful, you are focusing on the present moment, and with mediation you can close your eyes and do it for five minutes. You can put on some mediation music and just focus on yourself. Don't fight your thoughts but focus on letting go. Focus on your breath. Sometimes when I have anxiety, I like to go in a quiet place, be by myself and meditate. It brings me back to reality and realize that I am okay. You will be okay. Try implementing five minutes to a day and then increase it each time.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Sometimes you just need to release anything that is stuck in your mind. Remember that anxiety is exaggerated worry and your body is reacting to something you think is dangerous. You can control your thoughts and if you can manage to write it out from your mind, it can help your brain become more clearer. Journaling or writing down anything that is in my mind helps me understand what is trying to control my mind. And sometimes you will find out the triggers. Try making it a habit and write down your thoughts every time you can.
Breathe In and Breathe Out
Something so simple but sometimes we just forget to just breathe and relax. It's as simple as it sounds but really try to fill your lungs with air and hold for five seconds. Then let it out. Breathe in again, hold for five and let it go. Repeat as long as necessary.
Figure Out Your Triggers, Let It Go
As hard as this might be, but try to figure out what your triggers are. Yes, we have stress and we want to control something. But what is it that are you trying to control? What is it that is triggering you and your anxiety? For me, I try to control someone or someone's action. I realized over time and time again I cannot control anyone or anyone's action. I can only control myself. That was one trigger of mine that caused me so much pain and suffering in silence. You need to figure out what you are trying to control and let it go.
I hope that sharing what I do to help me manage my anxiety will help you. I want to let you know you are not alone and it's okay to ask for help. You deserve to live a life completely anxiety-free. Like myself, it is something I am always working to manage better and not let it take over my life. I'll have good months and then really bad months but it's all about taking care of yourself. You will overcome it.
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