Anxiety sucks. It can range from an intensified heartbeat and heavy breathing to me laying on the floor in the fetal position hyperventilating from the never-ending tears streaming down my face.
Anxiety can be a debilitating leech latching onto you, making it incapable to function.
Earlier this week, my anxiety boiled up, crippling my thoughts, my energy and my appetite. This is just a snippet of my anxiety at the beginning of the week.
Sunday: Wake up at 3:45 in the morning, physical pain in my chest, intensified heartbeat, negativity swarming through my mind, and eventually an emotional breakdown in the evening. Monday: Wake up at 2:00 in the morning still with the physical pain in my chest and intensified heartbeat and extreme nausea filling my stomach. I could literally feel my elevated heartbeat pulsating intensely through my belly button (which if you have never experienced this before it is extremely weird). While out to dinner (which I could barely eat) with friends, paranoia and discomfort started to set in. Tuesday: A short cry session occurs in the morning. Crippling and negative self-talk begins to resurface. The nausea is the worst! It is 8:45 pm as I am writing this blog post and as of now the only food I have been able to ingest since Saturday afternoon is a cup of bone broth Sunday night, a few bites of a salad Monday night, and a few pieces of fruit this morning. Yes, I am aware that I am depriving my body right now, not letting it thrive. As I said, anxiety can be debilitating.
Most would say there is an easy solution to this: take some anxiety meds. However, part of my fit, my healthy, my happy is to attempt to live a medication free life. For those of you who struggle with anxiety and don’t necessarily want to take medication. Here are a few things I do to help keep my anxiety at bay.
Working out: Anyone who knows me knows this is not a difficult task to motivate myself to do, even when my depression or anxiety is rearing its ugly head. For me, I find relieve in high intensity workouts and kickboxing, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone. Go for a walk or light jog. Get out a jump rope for a few minutes. Find a yoga class. Find the exercise that suits you. The release of endorphins during exercise will help boost your mood.
Puzzles: Puzzles help me relax. I think it is because I have to focus in on finding that one piece to fit in the spot. It allows me to drain out all the worry that is coursing through my veins. I find a sense of accomplishment every time I place a correct piece in the puzzle. This positive reaction has now overturned my negative. Puzzles might frustrate you. Then don’t try this, but do try and find something that helps you relax. It could be hydrotherapy, meditation, or visualization.
Journaling: If you haven’t been able to tell by now, pen to paper is how I process. Allowing the words to flow makes me aware of not just the external factors of my anxiety, but the internal. I become cognizant of the why. Most of the times I realize the why is a deeper issue than the instigator of my anxiety. You might hate writing and that’s ok. Maybe for you the way you process is through drawing or doing photography or maybe woodworking. Whatever your processing is, go do it!
Repeating a phrase over and over. AKA giving myself a pep talk: I find this extremely helpful if I am aware of what instigated the anxiety flare. When I woke up in the mornings earlier this week, I kept repeating to myself, “I am worthy. I will be okay. I am worthy. I will be okay. I am worthy. I will be okay.” Eventually my racing heart slowed down, the negative thoughts dwindled, and there was a sense of ease. If we choose to avoid positive self-talk, we WILL believe the negative lies we continue to tell ourselves in the midst of an anxiety attack, unable to live a full and authentic life.
You can also find a therapist to help you function while struggling with anxiety. Although it has dwindled, I still feel there is a stigma or sense of shame that hovers over people when therapy is suggested. Listen to me. Seriously, I want you to hear this. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH NEEDING TO TALK TO SOMEONE. Nothing. Talking to someone doesn’t mean you are broken or not good enough, worthy enough or something is wrong with you; it means you are trying to be healthy. You are trying to be the best version of you. No shame should come from that.
So often I get so caught up in the pain of anxiety and only see the harshness anxiety brings. However, when I am caught up in those moments, I realize eventually it will pass. And you know what? Even though anxiety can be a jerk sometimes, the result can be something positive. You just have to be willing to look for it. For me the result included a new and stellar spoken word piece; lots, lots, and lots of self-reflection, allowing me to dig deeper into my root issues and emotions; and a design idea for my tattoo. If I continue to let myself believe the negative critic in my head telling me that my anxiety controls me, then I will be depriving myself of my fit, my healthy, my happy life. I would be depriving not thriving.
We all deserve to thrive.