I had thought about doing a post on this for a while, and after hearing about Prince Harry opening up about his mental health struggles after his mother died, I thought now was a good time to talk about it. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and I’m glad to see more people opening up and sharing their struggles. When you deal with mental illness, whether that’s with yourself or a loved one, it’s always good to see that you are not alone.
I have dealt with anxiety for just about as long as I can remember. Like I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to getting work done, and that has led to me developing anxiety about a lot of things. There were many times in high school when I suffered from anxiety attacks about one thing or another. I had all of the classic symptoms, heart palpations, hyperventilation, and feeling like I was losing control, and let me tell you, it was not fun.
A lot of times, I struggled with anxiety attacks when I felt like I was losing control over a situation, like if I didn’t feel prepared for a test or had to go to some sort of social event that I felt scared to go to. When I had a big math test to study for, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed and wonder if I would end up failing. Whenever I had a big presentation at school, all I could think of was completely choking up in front of the whole class and having everyone laugh at me.
To make matters worse, I felt really ashamed about having anxiety. I knew that most of my worries were not realistic and probably not going to happen, but that didn’t stop me from having those thoughts. I didn’t really see any of my friends dealing with this kind of anxiety, the kind that was actually affecting my life, and I didn’t want to bring it up to anyone or ask for help.
Through college and still today I have problems with anxiety at times, but it is much better than what I dealt with in my younger years. In college, I finally worked up the courage to talk to my doctor about what I was going through, and she suggested a medication that could help me, and it did. I wanted to bring this up because for the longest time, I didn’t want to talk to my doctor because I didn’t want to seem weak or silly. If anyone out there is worried about getting help, please learn from this and do as much as you can to help yourself, whether that be with medication, therapy, or both. It is so important to take care of yourself, and that includes mentally.
In addition to the medication, I have found other ways of helping to calm my anxiety, which I wanted to share today, just in case it might help anyone else! These are pretty simple things, but they have made such a difference to me and my anxiety.
The first tip I have for dealing with anxiety came to me only recently, and that is meditation. I was super skeptical of this at first, and I didn’t believe it that people actually benefited from sitting still and doing nothing for an extended amount of time. I was also hesitant to try it because I tend to have a racing mind, and didn’t think I could get my mind to be quiet enough to actually get it to work.
Looking up 10-minute guided meditations on Youtube has helped me so much with getting into meditation. I’m able to focus on the person’s voice in the video, and I’m able to relax my mind. This week I’ve been listening to these guided meditations once in the morning and once at night, and I can already see a difference in my overall outlook. Things that bothered me before and increased anxiety bother me less now, and I just feel calmer about everything I’m going through on a daily basis.
Something else that I’ve included into my weekly schedule to help my anxiety is taking baths. I have never been someone who takes baths often, in fact I’m much more inclined to take showers than baths, but this year I’ve really embraced the calming effect baths have on my anxiety.
I let the water run really hot and soak for about 30 or so minutes. There’s something so luxurious and nice about taking the time to fill up a bath, and it feels good to treat myself to something that isn’t really necessary!
Sometimes I bring a book in to read, but other times I just sit there with my eyes closed. I guess this is another form of meditation for me, because I try not to think of anything and just focus on the warm water and relaxing myself.
In the past I’ve definitely gone all out and got myself some bath bombs from Lush, but more recently I’ve been using this Ultra Moisturizing Mineral Soak from Dr. Teal’s with avocado oil, and it is amazing! The scent is really calming, and especially this winter, the avocado oil has done wonders for my dry skin. It’s also soothing for my sore muscles since I’ve started running, so I really like to use it on days that I’m doing my running program. Overall, it is great for helping my anxiety, and it helps my skin and muscles at the same time!
Like I mentioned above, I often do some reading when I’m in the bath, but I also read pretty much anytime I’m sitting down for a while! I love fiction, but I’ve also been interested in different self-help books this year. I’m currently reading You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, and I love it so far. There are so many amazing tips about how to attract positivity and success in your life, and I’m excited to implement some of them into my life. I’m definitely going to talk about this book in further detail in a later post, so keep an eye out for that. Reading helps my anxiety because, whether it’s a fiction or non-fiction book, it allows me to escape my stresses and worries for a while and focus on someone else’s story. I’ve been using reading to help my anxiety for as long as I can remember, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
You all know by now how important fitness is in my life, and I think the reason I’ve stuck with it for so long now is because it helps my anxiety so much. For the longest time, I didn’t believe people when they said exercise made them feel better, but after having it as a regular part of my daily schedule for a while, I’m a firm believer that this is true. Whenever I’m having a stressful day or can’t seem to stop the anxious thoughts from getting me down, taking a quick walk or turn on the elliptical is so beneficial for me. Working out just makes me feel better in general, and feeling good keeps the anxiety low.
Finally, listening to music is a great way for me to keep my anxiety in check. Whenever I’m upset or nervous about something, I can always lean on music to make me feel better. Whether it’s just listening to music with my headphones or going to my favorite band’s concert, there is something so magical about how music affects us and makes us happy.
I mentioned this during my first post, but Twenty One Pilots has become one of my favorite bands, and part of the reason is because the lyrics of the songs address many of the same things that I’m feeling, especially with anxiety. Listening to their music makes me feel like I’m not alone, and that really has helped me to feel less anxious about my life and how it’s going.
I hope that some of these tips might help someone who is dealing with anxiety, and that this post might aid someone else dealing with mental illness to share his or her own story and ask for help. Do any of you have ways that you deal with your own anxiety? I’d love to hear them!