My anxiety is still here and it still definitely sucks. I’m anxious all day long and I’m exhausted when I can finally lay in bed. However, I toss and turn all night, starting the next day off even more exhausted than the last. I used to think that my anxiety strictly came from social situations but as I’m doing more things, pushing open my comfort zone, I’ve realized that it doesn’t just come from social situations. I wrote about this in my One Year Reflection post, I’m anxious constantly. It’s not fun, 0/10 would not recommend.
So how have I been dealing with my anxiety? Well to be honest, I barely manage it. Like most things in life we’re not given a step by step handbook to explain the tough things. But after learning more about my anxiety and actually understanding what anxiety is, I feel I can share how I’ve been coping. Well semi-coping.
- COUNSELING. I can’t stress this enough. I mentioned this in my Sophomore Year of College Taught Me post but I honestly feel like this has made the biggest impact on my issues. Talking to a person who is neutral, doesn’t have any agenda in your life, and genuinely wants to help you is so so so helpful. Just letting lose all of my thoughts openly is rewarding. I don’t have to worry about judgment and I’m able to get a new perspective on some of my issues. If you go to a university, counseling is typically free and I highly recommend taking advantage of this. You don’t even have to have “something wrong with you,” just going to talk is reason enough.
- My counselor and I first discussed coping mechanisms for anxiety; we started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Which, to put it simply, is meant to help change the patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind certain issues. Basically we started with isolating the thoughts that anxiety would give me, then follow that up with a counter argument essentially. For example, anxiety: “Heidi you can’t pass this class, you’ll never be good enough, might as well drop out.” CBT: “You are good enough, you have passed all of your classes, you are intelligent.” This form of training is really helpful for majority of people. For me… not so much.
- Medication? Since I tried CBT and realized that my anxiety isn’t revolved around my thought processes as it is to the physical symptoms I was experiencing, we determined that medication would be something that I could benefit from. I talked to my general physician and he suggested the same thing. I’ve been on my medication for a little over three months and I have improved so much. Knowing that my anxiety was purely a biological chemical imbalance took a lot of pressure off of me. I didn’t feel so.. broken. It’s not my fault that my brain is imbalanced. I’m doing what I can to correct that so I can function properly.
- Recognizing what anxiety feels like has helped. I used to think that shaking when answering questions in class was normal, because isn’t everyone nervous to speak up in class? I used to think that chewing on my cheek, playing with my necklace, and constantly fidgeting was normal. Please hear me out, I’m not saying that if you do these things you automatically have anxiety. I’m only saying that for me, I thought that feeling jittery constantly was something that everyone experienced. After talking these things out with my counselor, I was able to realize that I shouldn’t be on the brink of a panic attack or feel like every situation is life or death.
- Routine. Having a daily morning routine has helped. I try to wake up and shower at the same time every morning. I’ve had the same morning routine for about three years now. I make minor changes sometimes, like if I’m wearing makeup or not etc. For the most part, it’s necessary that I give myself at least an hour alone to read my current book and to give my medicine a chance to kick in. It’s undisturbed alone time. Lately, I was having second thoughts about my routine, which is weird because I’ve been doing the same thing for about three years now. But I was worried that my routine prevented me from being spontaneous or flexible, because aren’t we all striving for that? I’m not the biggest planner or the most spontaneous. I’m a weird mix. My morning routine calms my anxiety, I feel anxious if I don’t have that hour to myself. Yet, I feel guilty for taking that time for myself. I expressed these thoughts to my mom and she encouraged me that routine was good. It puts our bodies on a time schedule and it is healthy. My mom helped talked me off of the anxiety cliff, because she’s right, I shouldn’t feel anxiety over something that calms my anxiety. But as we know, anxiety sucks. I was also listening to my favorite podcast Coffee With Chrachel and they were talking about how having a routine is the one of the best things you can do for anxiety. Find what works best for you.
- Lavender. The scent of lavender is naturally calming so spread that stuff everywhere. I have it in the pure oil form, hand sanitizer, candles, lotion, laundry detergent, literally everywhere.
- Taking things a day at a time. Anxiety is really great at causing panic of the future, things that aren’t entirely in one’s control. So when I try to think too far in the future or think about everything I need to get done and start feeling overwhelmed, I take a deep breath. My medicine generally prevents this from happening, but when it doesn’t, I have to remind myself to take things a day at a time.
- Positivity. Staying as positive as you can is truly essential. Anxiety likes to turn me against myself, I become my own worst enemy. I fight this through postivity, which I express internally and externally. When I’m around people, I don’t want to leave them drained, I want to leave them happier than before I talked to them. Treating people with respect and kindness is the best I can do and I can only do that if I shut my anxiety down with positivity.
These tips are definitely subjective, what works for me, may not work for you. But I hope that in reading these, y’all can also get some better ideas on how to handle anxiety. Here’s a quick video that put my anxiety into words perfectly, I’d really appreciate it if you gave it a watch.