LIVING WITH NOT SUFFERING FROM ANXIETY
(I don’t like to say we are suffering from a mental illness but instead we should aim to deal with it appropriately.)
This can be a challenging topic for many people to discuss. The stigmas around mental illnesses are slowly diminishing in our society today although this has not always been the case. I want everyone to know they should not be ashamed of the uncontrollable mind. I know my generation can be more open than others and I hope this piece brings awareness to all ages of noticing their anxiety, realizing it is there and using it to become stronger.
First is a short version of my experience with this mental illness. Feel free to skip to the end to view my 10 tips to relieve your anxiety.
Anxiety has always been a part of my life even when I did not know it. Being anxious is a part of being human. Fortunately, I recognized and educated myself on the topic around the age of 16. Little did I know when I was younger that I had always experienced anxiety.
Being a child it was hard to understand. I didn’t know why I could never answer the phone or the door. I felt scared every time someone asked me to do either. I still do not open the door or answer the phone often, I feel it may always be a fear for me. I also could not understand why I felt so insecure around adults. I was very scared of people of authority and would usually burst into tears if I had to confront them. If I had to present in front of a class I would try to fake sick to get out of it. However, years have passed since then and thankfully I now know how to control these feelings.
Unfortunately, I had a lot of people tell me I was "worrying too much" or that I should "calm down" which at first made me very sad. I guess many don't understand what this can feel like. I believe we should all speak up about our thoughts. This can ease the feeling of being alone. I want you to understand you are not alone and other people do feel the same as you. (This is what I needed most when I first noticed my anxiety).
My point being is we all experience feeling anxious at times throughout life but where do we draw the line of it becoming an anxiety disorder?
What anxiety can feel like:
-a feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing.
-an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior
-anxiety is the expectation of future threat
-feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching (and waiting) for signs (and occurrences) of danger, and, feeling like your mind's gone blank
*Being in school makes me want to cite everything I use from online*
What I experience:
-unable to fall asleep or stay asleep
-fear of losing my loved ones or everyone leaving me
-fear of failing
-blank staring into space (anxiety attack)
-weak immune system
-headaches and migraines
-overthinking (the worst one)
Things that give me anxiety:
-having to make decisions
-knowing I won’t be able to fall asleep
-letting someone down
-deciding what I want to eat at a restaurant
-when people don’t plan ahead
-when something doesn’t go as I planned it
-when people have their volume high on their phone next to me
…This list could go on for awhile. Anxiety shows up differently in all individuals. Listed above are a few weird situations where I experience it. Some may feel the same or have no idea what I’m talking about and that’s okay. When it is happening so often that it begins to interfere with your daily life, something should be changed as that is when it can be considered an anxiety disorder.
For myself, it took a lot of courage to bring up to a medical professional how I had been feeling inside my mind. Your mind may be the only true place to keep your personal thoughts. Exposing that was not easy. I was afraid they wouldn't believe me. They offered advice but I found nothing worked. In October 2016, I had just moved to Penticton and had no family doctor here but needed something to be done about these anxious emotions. I went to a walk in clinic, told him how I felt and he told me I was experiencing anxiety and OCD. I got prescribed an antidepressant.
That’s how easy it is to get prescription medications today. He did not consider my holistic health in any way. I believe he took a shortcut. Many loved ones didn’t agree with this new medication although I decided to give it a chance. One friend of mine told me about her experience on antidepressants and how they never actually make your illness disappear, the thoughts will always be there, they just help to ease the feelings. I was upset this doctor didn’t question me more or view my interrelated health between the different systems of my body. Nevertheless, I still chose to give it a try.
A year and a half later and I do believe this prescription has helped me in many ways. I don’t stay up all night anymore, I don’t freak out when I see a mess in the kitchen, I know how to control my thoughts for the most part. This is not independently because of this medication. This is because I am using a holistic approach to healing myself. Focusing on all aspects of your body is crucial to overcome these challenges.
But some times all of that goes away and you want to stay in bed all day with the lights off. Relating to the philosophy of balance. Some days you will have it all together, you will be on the top, others you will be down. This is all a part of growing, so aim to not make it a negative part of your life but instead a small bump to try to overcome. There isn’t much you can do about what life throws at you but you can control the way you handle your anxiety. I will tell you it isn't easy but here are some of my habits I have been drawn to that help me flourish in this area.
*IDEAS TO HELP EASE ANXIETY*
(These are not in order of importance)
*Take a large breath in, expanding your belly, ribs and chest
*Sigh out your exhale, releasing the negativity.
When I am acutely stressed, or in a stressful situation. This is my holy grail. Listen to your heart beat strong.
3. Essential oils; Peppermint and Lavender are a necessity. Many studies have proven their relaxing and calming effects on the mind, body and spirit. They feel great on the temples, wrists and neck.
4. Being physically active; whether that is killing in the gym, walking through the forest or stretching on your mat. This is so important to living a balanced lifestyle. Get out there and get your heart rate up
5. Tea; a life saver no matter what time of the day
6. Getting some fresh air; Nature always works its magic. 15 minutes of sunshine works wonders. I really wish we had more sun in our winters here in BC. It would make a huge difference to many peoples lives.
7. Writing; Instead of bottling up your thoughts, learn to express them on paper or computer. A main reason of why I started this project. I don’t want to keep all these thoughts inside anymore.
8. Spend time off your cell phone; This can be hard for many but a lot of people don’t know their phone is their own stressor. Leave it alone for a couple hours everyday and even longer when feeling really anxious. Talk to your friend’s and family instead.
9. Spend time with your animals and loved ones; take them outside, pet them for hours (not your family), play with them. If you don’t have pets go to the SPCA or to a friend’s, they instantly cheer me up.
10. Smile! I cannot stress how important a smile is. Smile to yourself, to others on the street, to your dog. Forcing a little smile relieves stress.
A reminder that you may never fully eliminate anxiety although you do have the power to overcome it's symptoms. I encourage you to try these out, and would love to know if this piece of writing was appealing to you at all. Thank you for following me through this journey of growth.
Photo found on Pinterest and thought it was perfect for this topic. Retrieved from