7 Ways to Manage Anxiety
first, thank you for being so supportive, encouraging and receptive to my last post about how anxiety has been affecting my marriage. it was terrifying to put out there because it’s hard to be vulnerable, admit weakness and show that we are all mere mortals.
if you’ve been following along on my anxiety journey (by adding ‘journey’ i’m pretending it sounds more positive and maybe there will be snacks), i was on anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication since 15. a few years back, i decided i wanted to know how i felt without that in my system since i’d essentially grown up on it.
*let’s just make a quick note that i’m not your therapist or a doctor and this is simply coming from my personal experience and encourage you to seek what works for you. i will say that it’s not recommended to go off any medication without your doctor/therapist’s approval and support so don’t do it!
i still have some anti-anxiety medication i can take when it gets too overwhelming (though thinking about taking it gives me anxiety so i really don’t but it helps to know it’s there). i’ve been searching for ways to manage anxiety without medication but that isn’t to say it didn’t help in the past or that i might get on it again in the future.
a few weeks back i was having (decaf) coffee with my friend and blogger, emma. we started talking about anxiety and we shared what’s been working for us. i really love a piece she wrote about how we need to invest in our own well-being when it comes to services that will dramatically improve our lives (and she shares her insight into the mediation “headspace” i mention below!)
we cannot be at our full potential in our relationship, friendships, career or even life when we aren’t taking care of our own well-being first.
1) set your morning routine
- part of my anxiety is the unknown and feeling out of control. i’ve implemented a fairly consistent morning routine for the past few months so it helps me know what to expect and now my day starts with slightly more ease because i already know what to do.
- it starts by walking our dog by the water, making a warm and caffeine-free drink and going to sit in my favorite purple chair to meditate.
- i’ve never tried meditating before the end of last year but was willing to try just about anything because i needed a better handle on my anxiety. i started with the app on my phone called “headspace” (emma talks about this). the first 10 sessions are free and then of course they try to upsell you but you can listen to those 10 over and over. it does a good job getting you comfortable with how meditation works and takes the more practical side of things.
- i’m currently in the midst of dr. deepak chopra & oprah’s free 21-meditation and have found these really helpful (i’ve completed 2 previously and today is the last day to join this one). these are a bit more cosmic and you’re left ‘alone’ for longer than headspace but they say really great things to start your day off right.
- i’ve found that meditation does help calm my mind and make me more intentional throughout the day. sometimes the relief of a calm mind may last only minutes or seconds during/after meditation and sometimes longer. regardless, those few seconds are a few more than i would have had if i didn’t try my best at meditating.
3) talk to a professional
- i cannot tell you how beneficial this has been for me over the years to talk to a professional about anxiety and coping strategies. i like to stick with social workers, since that’s my background, but you could also see a licensed counselor, therapist or psychologist too.
- i wish there wasn’t such a stigma attached to it because it’s incredibly beneficial to have an unbiased and helpful person to hear your struggles and help you through them.
- sure, who doesn’t want some buffer arms or stronger legs but exercise has a greater benefit to my mental health than physical.
- i found on the days i work out, those endorphins that are created after i’ve gotten my heart rate up and pushed myself, help to elicit a more positive feeling about myself and the world around me. i deal with things better and can think more rationally.
5) decide to change your mindset
- this one is hard for me but something clicked recently when i read “the four agreements.” the book talks about how we as individuals make certain agreements with ourselves and with the world. these agreements come from our socialization from our parents as well as the world around us. it’s up to us to decide what agreements we want to keep, what agreements to break and to finally agree to live by the ‘four agreements.’
- for me, the hardest yet more powerful thing for my anxiety has been the decision to change it. because i’ve known anxiety since i can remember, it feels like it’s a part of me. i actually start feeling anxious when i don’t feel anxiety but know i “should” (true story…like if i’m suddenly not anxious on an airplane, that makes me anxious!) i am deciding that anxiety is no longer an ‘agreement’ i want to hold in my life.
6) be open and vulnerable about it
- hence the blog post, talking to random people about anxiety, or simply being honest with myself. for many years i felt shame and embarrassment about anxiety having such a stronghold over my entire life. it would be unfair to tell you that i don’t feel that shame and embarrassment still, because i do, but when i’m open about my anxiety, it feels like it has slightly less of a hold over me.
- it’s an exhausting job hiding your thoughts and feelings from those around you, especially when those thoughts and feelings aren’t so positive. everyone is struggling with something so it’s okay to talk about times when you don’t feel at your best.
7) start coloring…or find another activity
- not even kidding, i’ve picked up coloring again but this time with a bit of a flare to it. my father-in-law gave me this coloring book for grown-ups and it consists of gorgeous drawings of secret gardens, treasure hunts and lots of whimsical nature scenes. it helps me feel more at peace to spend 20 minutes coloring a page and seeing it transform by the end.
- if this isn’t your thing, try another hobby or craft that isn’t too strenuous on your mind but allows it to be relaxed, yet occupied. this has given my anxiety a bit of an outlet without simply staring off into space.
one of my goals this year is to explore more about essential oils because i’ve heard those are helpful for anxiety too but cannot comment on them yet.
part of living the new wifestyle is first and foremost feeling empowered in who we are as women and wives. it’s important that we do what it takes so we are healthy and happy first with ourselves so we can give more of who we are to our family and the world.
please feel free share this with your spouse, friends, family or on your social network because you never know who may be struggling with anxiety.