In honor of Mental Health Day (Oct. 10th) I decided to talk about my anxiety. I have hesitated to do this because these days it seem like everybody struggles with anxiety and I feel like it looks like I am just hopping on the bandwagon. I didn’t want people to think that I am just talking about it to get attention or playing it up to be more than it is. Honestly, it has gotten a lot better over time and that is because I have gotten better at managing it. I really wanted to share what I do to manage it. I used to be embarrassed by it but I’m not anymore because it is so common. First I will give you a little background and then talk about what I find helps.
I’ve always been an extremely introverted person and very shy as a child/teen. I think this has probably had something to do with my anxiety later in life. It really started in my last year of college. I remember struggling with it every single day. It would come in waves. After I graduated was when it was at its peek. I would have extreme dizzy spells and chest pain. Everything always seemed out of focus. I didn’t know what was wrong with me so I went to the doctor several times. I thought maybe I had a heart problem or a brain tumor so I got a MRI and an EKG and both were normal. The doctor told me it’s anxiety and that I should stop drinking so much coffee, which is what I did. I thought about going to therapy or getting medication but I really wanted to learn to manage it on my own.
My anxiety seems to be more generalized most of the time. Sometimes it will flare up when I feel overwhelmed or stressed but that makes sense to me. Of course I would feel anxious when I am stressed but it’s not always related to that. Sometimes I will just feel it when I am just sitting at home doing nothing. I do also experience a little bit of social anxiety. When I go into stores alone I will feel very overwhelmed and want to leave almost immediately.
Like I said, since college my anxiety has gotten much better. One thing that has always made it worse is when I work at jobs that stress me out or have a social aspect to them, like retail. I always hate being the center of attention, so I don’t like working on a cash register because customers get mad at you and stare at you when you are ringing them up. If you have a job that is making you super anxious, find a new one. I used to work as a seamstress and the owner was super mean. She was really strict and while I was working there I had horrible anxiety. I even passed out once. I experienced all sorts of digestive issues, which I’m pretty sure stemmed from the anxiety because as soon as I quit, it immediately got better. Ever since that job, my anxiety has been so much better!
Here are some tips to manage anxiety (of course i’m not a medical professional so don’t take these too seriously)
1. Limit caffeine or stop drinking it all together. I have really cut back and gone through phases where I don’t drink it at all. Because of my job I have to drink it, but I never have more than half of a mug a day.
2. Find a new job if you think your job is causing it. Nobody should have to be in a toxic work environment.
3. Go for walks or exercise. I wouldn’t suggest doing this when you feel anxious but I think the more often I do it, the less anxious I feel in general.
4. Eat healthy but treat yourself to comfort food when you really need it.
5. Make lists. It really helps me to make lists when I am stressed. If you are thinking about all of the things you need to do, as soon as you write it down, you can release it from your mind.
6. Whenever I am feeling anxious, it helps me to stay warm. I’m not sure why but I try to bring a sweater wherever I go. I just feel more cozy and safe, I guess.
7. Try to recognize what makes you feel anxious and actively try to fix it. Example: if it’s your job or money issues.
8. Avoid the things that make you feel anxious. If you hate large crowds, don’t go into large crowds. But maybe try to incorporate that in small doses. I think that would help you to get better over time.
9. Bake or do something crafty. These things always make me feel more calm. I think because it averts my attention to something else.
10. Watching something that makes you happy. I love watching one of my favorite shows when I’m anxious because they make me feel nostalgic and happy. I usually turn on Gilmore Girls. I think Ive seen it all like 10 times.