It is no fun living with anxiety, I should know. But I also know that developing coping skills can help you live a happier life; it is not easy but it is possible, and I know that too. The last thing a person needs when anxiety hits them is for others to tell them to calm down and chill out.
When anxiety hits you, in this intense moment of weakness, you think of all the things that did not go right in your life. You think about how you could not be the daughter your parents wanted you to be, or the good friend that your friends expected of you, or even the good partner that you were supposed to be. In that moment, all you can see is all the failures and difficult moments in your life. You remember all the timelines you missed that you should have met, but did not want to. If you have ever felt that way, you are not alone, because many people have experienced that – I have lived that moment over and over again.
You want the bad, all-consuming thoughts to leave you alone, but they chase you until you cannot run any further.
You feel weak and you cry, usually alone where no one can see or hear you, because you have to show others how strong you are, even though you are so broken inside.
Being a certified mental health professional who has experienced this thing called anxiety way too many times in life, I have taught myself how to deal with it, and how to keep myself together. Sometimes I still fail to do so, but I continue to try every day. And, trust me, it is not easy (and it’s extremely frustrating) but it is possible to cope and overcome anxiety’s power to take over your life; it just takes time and it takes patience.
Here is what you need to remember when anxiety hits you.
1. It will pass, it is just a phase; sometimes a short phase, sometimes a longer phase, but it is temporary. Just focus on your breath and be present in the moment. Practice mindfulness. Your old friend anxiety may visit again, but with practice, you can help yourself.
2. Talk to a loved one or a friend that you trust. You need someone in your life who will listen to everything you are feeling without judging you. My go-to person is my friend Katie, who knows me inside-out. Knowing that I have her in my life makes me feel like I can do this.
3. Having a healthier lifestyle helps. I do not eat extremely healthy but I do work out. I hate it, and I have to make myself go to the gym. But exercising on a regular basis has done wonders for my anxiety level. I have also incorporated yoga in my life, and over time, it has mellowed me out.
4. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol; it may help you forget your anxiety (temporarily) but it ultimately makes it worse. Instead, try to meditate (back to breathing again) and drink caffeine-free herbal tea.
5. Listen to positive affirmations from podcasts or on YouTube. It may sound a bit ‘out there’ but the more you listen to them, the more you will believe in them. And in the end, what we believe in is what is true in our lives.
6. Accept yourself. Self-acceptance is key. There are enough people out there who will not approve of you but the only person who is going to be with you for the rest of your life is you. You owe it to yourself to treat yourself well, and love yourself for who you are. Stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations of you. You will never be able to make everyone happy, but you can choose to make yourself happy.
7. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up over every mistake or bad thing that has happened in your life; try to think of all the good things – it may seem impossible, but remember that you are an amazing person who adds so much to other people’s lives. You brighten someone’s day every day with your existence, without even knowing it.
8. You are not alone. There are so many others out there like you, who keep it together in front of others and then lose it when they are alone. We understand each other because we have felt the same feelings and lived in the same fear, and I can tell you – you will be okay, someone is there for you. I am here for you.
If you live with anxiety, you may feel like there is nothing out there that can help you and you may want to give up, but don’t. Have faith in yourself; being anxious and/or having panic attacks is something I have lived with and I can tell you, it passes.
How you are feeling when you are anxious does not decide who you are as a person, it is just a part of who you are and what you go through. It makes you the beautiful person you are on the inside because you care about others. It shows you are human and it shows that you are going through a difficult time. Have faith in yourself, and love yourself – and I guarantee you that anxiety will never win.