I have been struggling with anxiety since college. It came on all of a sudden and was such a bizarre sensation. I have always considered myself to be a very go-with-the-flow type of girl – wasn’t bothered by much and the stress I experienced was seemingly normal for a student. I still feel this way about myself, however, I now catch myself re-enacting past experiences, overthinking decisions, and worrying about new things.
I was able to suppress the anxiousness for the most part, and chalked it up to being an adult and having real stressors to deal with [#adultingisreal], until I was around 25 and started having massive anxiety attacks. I’m talking – hysterically crying, sweating, hyperventilating and sometimes fainting – anxiety attacks. It was awful and usually over such small and immaterial events, or even worse, sometimes I had no idea why it was happening. I needed to figure out how to get it under control.
I know it may seem second nature, but establishing a good daily routine does wonders for curbing anxiety. This is coming from a Type B girl like me: get organized, buy a planner (s/o to Erin Condren), and figure out what works best for you. For me, it’s sitting down on Sunday and planning my week. My daily routine looks something like; wake up, breakfast, work, lunch, work, exercise, dinner, tv, bed. Riveting stuff, right? [too many exciting things, ha] This keeps me on track, takes the guesswork out of the day and keeps me calm. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous and hit up that last min happy hour with your friends on Wednesday, but the fact that your days are planned helps alleviate some of that uncertainty.
I have the toughest time with meditation. My brain is constantly thinking of 1000 things and I never feel like I can clear it. [yes! sitting still is not possible] I have learned through practice that – this is ok! Whenever I am meditating and sense my mind wandering I just acknowledge it and focus back on my breathing. I am proud that I kept practicing because I feel such a weight lifted off of my shoulders after I finish a session.
Four square breathing is a method that really helps me focus and clear my mind – inhale for four, hold for four, exhale for four, hold for four and repeat. Guided meditation is also very helpful in maintaining focus and apps like Headspace have great programs for beginners. [just downloaded it]
In times of extra stress, like before a big presentation or a date, I turn to some helpers. Natural Calm is a great magnesium supplement that you just stir into your water and drink your stress away (not to be confused with your typical wine night).
Another one of my faves is CBD . I use Penguin CBD – they have oils that come with a convenient dropper and are even flavored. I use the mint, so I can be ready for that aforementioned date 😉 [for your breath or meeting a person…?]
Finally, the best thing I ever did for myself was partake in some good ole therapy. Growing up, there was always a stigma around therapy. There was a connotation that if you were going to therapy there was something wrong with you. I am so glad that I fought my internal stereotype and went for it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is so helpful to understand how to better process situations you may face. What is making you anxious? Why? What would happen if the worst case scenario occurred? How would it actually affect you? This really helps me in my everyday life by putting things into perspective. There is so much in life we can’t control and so level setting expectations and focusing on what IS under our control definitely changed how I look at life.
Psychology Today has a great search function that connects you with therapists in your area based on the criteria and issues that are important to you. This is how I found my therapist and I would highly recommend taking a look. First thing to do is to have an introductory call with them. It is so important to make sure you are getting good vibes. Don’t feel bashful to switch therapists if you don’t feel comfortable, they are professionals and will understand. They may even be able to make some recommendations!
[proud of you baby sister :)]
What do you do to help cope with your anxiety? Please share any tips in the comments!