Anxiety is something I have always dealt with, but in my adult years this has changed immensely.
I have learned new coping strategies and I can control myself better than ever before. Yet, there are times when I cannot wrap my head around reality vs the fiction my mind is making up. I struggle to do simple tasks, like picking out what to wear.
Even in a moment of complete clarity, I cannot understand how a woman, who is career driven, goal oriented, running a business, and balancing motherhood cannot choose what to wear. Or, at the grocery store standing in front of a freezer full of ice cream, I cannot choose a flavor..
This – this is me. At times, I am so overwhelmed with anxiety that I cannot make a seemingly simple decision.
I am here to share with you what has worked for me over the years to cope with my anxiety. The transitions I have made and how I set myself up for success when I know anxiety might hit.
Write it out.
I like to write things down, from to-do lists, thoughts, ideas, and sadness. I write everything down. When I am overwhelmed by life itself, I start writing. Writing down what makes us anxious allows us to get it out of our heads and can make it less daunting. Then you can plan how to combat those feelings and overcome them.
Depending on when the anxiety hits, going for a walk, hitting the gym, or sneaking in a workout, can help improve your mood and let out the unwanted emotions in a healthy way. Exercise has proven results in reducing anxiety, depression, and negative moods.
I aim to get regular exercise daily (or sometimes it is only weekly) to ensure I am treating my body well. After one or two workouts I can already start seeing the positive benefits from it! It can be challenging to find the motivation when you are in a real slump. Start small, go for a ten-minute walk, then increase as you are able. Start weekly, and then daily if you can!
Learn your triggers.
Identify what sets you off. Learning your triggers will be very beneficial in learning how to deal with anxiety. Some triggers can seem obvious, lack of sleep, being hungry, or a stressful job. In the moment it might be hard to recognize those triggers, so planning is important. For me, I aim to get a full night’s sleep whenever I can – so I plan my schedule around this. (This is definitely easier said than done, especially with a 1-year-old at home). On nights I know I must get up early I go to bed an hour earlier. Or if I know I did not sleep well the night before, I try to settle into my bedtime routine earlier than usual to catch up. If you have a partner who can help with the kids and/or chores, let them know you need the extra rest. Tag team things if needed.
Other common triggers are caffeine, alcohol, and smoking. Triggers can be anything.
If I find myself browsing social media and consuming too much news, I put my phone down and walk away.
I did not realize how much surfing Instagram made my anxiety spike until a couple weeks ago when the Capitol was being stormed. I was home alone with our daughter, it was late at night, I was tired but restless (it took me a long time to get the baby to bed) and I sat in my bed scrolling through Instagram. Normally this would not be a trigger for me, but I got caught up in things about the Capitol, seeing photos, reading captions, and it overtook me. I found myself getting nervous, scared, and sad. While I do not want to become numb to these events or ignore them, I do need to maintain a healthy balance of consuming this information . So, I set my phone down. I stepped away. I returned a few days later to process what I had seen and how it made me feel. I am still processing it.
Generally, I limit the content I see on social media so I don’t get pulled in and it doesn’t become a trigger. However, when this big event happened I let my guard down. I forgot to protect myself.
I hope that you can take something away from this, if nothing more than making time for yourself and see what works for you! Taking care of ourselves is so important, because we can’t fill someone else’s cup if ours is empty.
Slow down and give yourself grace.