LIVING WITH ANXIETY: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Lying awake at night. Trouble breathing. Restlessness. Unexplainable feelings of fear.
Living with anxiety is not easy. Nearly all of us have experienced or gone through a period in our lives when we felt anxious, stressed or like life has become unmanageable. It is normal to feel anxious during certain times in your life: before an exam, first date, difficult conversation or when in high-pressure situations such as graduate school.
But when you suffer from chronic anxiety.... It's no joke.
It can be debilitating and impact your overall quality of life.
We live in a high-stress society that is full of expectations, deadlines, and negative news. No wonder nearly 98% of the client's that I have worked with struggle with anxiety and chronic stress.
I myself have experienced the effects of chronic anxiety both in my own life and within my family.
It's not a pleasant feeling to sit with and tolerate without trying to control, numb or avoid it.
I love this quote: "Anxiety stems from living in the future and depression comes from living in the past." It's so true, and you can not change the past or predict the future, so the only thing that you really have is NOW.
Yet, our brains are overstimulated and it's very hard to turn off those thoughts that go into thinking about the past: "I should have...", "what if I had...", "what did I miss..." or future: "this is whats going to happen...", "what is my life going to look like when..."
Talk about NOT living in the moment.
It's more important than ever that we learn to channel anxiety into healthy habits. Because if you don't control your anxiety- it is going to start controlling you.
Here are some tips for managing anxiety and reducing stress:
1. Meditate: Meditation does wonders for anxiety and stress. Even taking a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe, visualize a relaxing place or notice how your body feels. It will help you become in-tune with your thoughts, feelings, and body, which will make it easier to calm yourself down.
2. Eat Healthy: "You are what you eat." What you put into your body matters and it's important to eat healthy, limit process sugar and watch your caffeine intake. Our food has more of an impact on our stress hormones and ultimately on our moods. Choose food that is nutritious, eat clean, choose protein, veggies, and fruit. Slay that sugar dragon and take note of the changes you notice in your overall well-being.
3. Exercise: Get out and do something active! Exercise is one of the best ways to cope with anxiety and stress. Chronic anxiety causes your body to be in a state of "fight or flight" mode most of the time! That's a lot of built up energy, adrenalin, and testosterone just begging to be released.
4. Journal: Write down your feelings, thoughts or worries on paper! Seeing them written down can help you look at them in a more objective way and help you challenge some of the negativity or worry that you may be feeling. Something about seeing it on paper makes it easier to rationalize and look at things more objectively.
5. Talk To Someone: Going to see a therapist can be extremely helpful when you are under a lot of stress or living with chronic anxiety. But if you can not afford it or aren't ready to take that step talking to a family member or a friend can be extremely helpful as well. "Venting" makes a big difference when you have built up tension and stress. Let your family and friends know that you are going through a hard time and that you need to get some things off of your chest.
6. Take A Break: Relax! Take a personal day at work, get a pedicure or massage, treat yourself to a nice dinner! Life is meant to be enjoyed. I firmly believe we shouldn't live to work but rather work to live. If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed, it's time for some self-care. Set a date to enjoy yourself and just "be." Taking time to pamper yourself and regenerate is super important and so many of us forget to make time ourselves.
7. Have Sex: Research shows having consistent sexual intercourse decreases stress hormones, increases happiness and makes you live longer! Sadly, we often judge people for being sexual, but the truth is- humans are sexual! It's a need just like eating, breathing and drinking water. So... make love and enjoy yourself but be safe, protect and respect yourself and your body.
8. Consider Medication: There are a lot of mixed opinions and feelings about psychotropic medications. However, if you have tried coping with your anxiety in other ways and you are still experiencing impairment in your everyday life, medications can make a huge difference. Schedule and appointment with a psychiatrist and share your concerns, but also stay opened and become educated. Medication can drastically improve your quality of life!