Anxiety. It can be so debilitating. Since I have become a nurse, my anxiety has significantly worsened. I don’t know if it is the lack of routine, the encompassing stress with caring for people’s lives, or the feeling of never quite knowing it all, but it has definitely affected me. Moving across the country two times in three years hasn’t help either. it’s funny though because lately I have been hearing a lot more people opening up about how anxiety has affected them and to be honest, I almost feel like it has become somewhat of a trending topic.
On the other hand though, I think there is still a lot of stigma surrounded with anxiety. People think that if you are an anxious person you have a “problem” of sort, or it is treated as negative topic in which people don’t want to discuss the possibility of suffering from anxiety.
Well, I would like to get something clear. It doesn’t make you a bad person, a less person, a worse-off person if you suffer from anxiety. I have found that people who suffer from anxiety typically are people pleasers, may not have been taught how to properly deal with stress, and/or have suffered something traumatic.
For me personally, I think the first two apply to me. I have 100% a people pleaser and I don’t think I was fully taught how to deal with difficult situations because I am the baby. My sisters and mom always let me sort of get my way, which is so kind of them, but I also think that I never quite learned proper coping skills if you will. I am becoming much better at dealing though now. Especially since there is so much more discussion about it and ideas out there.
For instance, did you know that anxiety can contribute to high blood pressure, increase in cortisol causing you to gain weight, diabetes, stress eating, affect relationships, cause insomnia, increase inflammation in the body, etc. Not to mention how incapacitated the person experiencing the anxiety feels.
Now, I am by no means a therapist claiming to know all. I am a healthcare professional, but I am also a sufferer, so with that, I am strictly talking from my OWN experience which in the research world is actually at the bottom in regards to providing accurate and valid information, so take it for what you will! Just thought I would share what works for ME.
1. Meditation – this is HUGE. Meditation has helped me to calm my mind significantly because typically when I am experiencing an anxiety episode (I say episode because I don’t feel I experience a full “attack” like some do), my mind is racing in a 100 different places. As a result, with meditation, I am able to bring myself to the moment, breathe, and focus on the here and now. It has helped me get very clear on all aspects of my life and to also be more accepting of myself, which has released a lot of the stress associated with being a people-pleaser.
2. Morning pages – this is a recent addition to my arsenal, but has also helped me so significantly. I actually learned of this from Lauryn Evarts of THE SKINNY CONFIDENTIAL. Essentially, it is a brain dump. It is so brilliant. Once again, this focuses on the 100s of things going through my head and allows me to get all of them off of my mind and onto paper. It doesn’t matter what I say or how I feel, if it is positive or negative. The goal? Write 3 pages in a notebook without lifting your pen off the paper. You can write anything and everything, you just CAN’T stop writing.
3. Exercise – When I can’t exercise, my anxiety goes out the roof. I think it has something to do with transferring of the energy I feel within my body and expelling that into the atmosphere or weights or ground or whatever I am working out with. These workouts have to be extreme though for them to be successful for me. Like yoga doesn’t do it for me. I need to literally be dripping sweat, aggressively jumping, punching, running, lifting, etc. It is in this way that I rid my body of all of that negative energy. It typically leaves me exhausted, but I love it.
4. Essential Oils – Never underestimate the power of essential oils. They are seriously magical. I will either diffuse some essential oils or use my Tranquil roll on from Young Living. Just the smell and some deep breaths, and I am able to calm my mind and spirit.
5. Rapid talking – similar to morning pages, this is a verbal vomit if you will. I use this when I don’t have time for morning pages and/or my attack is at night. I feel most anxious at night before I sleep, so this helps a lot. Essentially my husband (or whomever you trust), allows me to literally rapid fire everything on my mind. All of my stresses, worries, fears, etc. I just word vomit everything I can and let it all out in one breath. Getting it off my chest makes me feel so much better and a lot of times my husband can provide some better insight and help me see my problems more clearly than I can.
6. Lastly, and my least favorite, is decreasing caffeine intake – I actually learned of this one from a sister who was experiencing increase in anxiety and her MD suggested decreasing her caffeine intake. She tried it and it was able to help her quite a bit. As a result, when I am experiencing anxiety, I will try to only have one or two cups of coffee a day instead of multiple in the morning and some in the afternoon (you all know how I love my coffee), and that seems to help a lot.
Well, I hope this helps you all. Anxiety can be so overwhelming, but the more we talk about it, the more solutions we find, and, ultimately, the more we are able to help heal each other.