So today marks the laast post I’ll be doing for the Self-Love Series. I might pick it up in the summer again with some fresh new posts but for now, I’m going to be freeing up Monday’s for some awesome book reviews coming up and other lifestyle goodness!
For todays topic, I wanted to get a little more personal. I think topics like anxiety and depression should be talked about both in schools and in media more rather than treated like some sort of weakness or taboo. And that’s why today, I wanted to share my own experience with anxiety.
I can distinctly remember a teacher casually mentioning depression once in my entire high school career and then never again. She told us ‘Anxiety can happen to anyone in this room but a lot of the time, you might not even realize the person sitting next to you has it.’ It felt like this giant looming monster when she said it like that. Maybe it wouldn’t have sounded so frightening if it had been a topic that was more discussed. That’s why I hoped that today, maybe some tips that have been helping me lately could also help someone else reading this.
So that all being said, let’s get into it!
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I was a pretty anxious person even back in elementary school. I remember lying awake at night, unable to fall asleep because I was scared of failing math. Numbers were not my forte (aaand they still aren’t today,) but I remember being terrified of being held back just because I couldn’t for the life of me grasp how to do long division.
To this day, I’ve realized that I have three big triggers to my anxiety; failure, sickness and confrontation.
Once high-school came around, things were pretty great. I found my best friends; Kimberly, Robyn, Ben and Josee as well as my boyfriend, Robert. Like I said in a past post on friendships, good friends make a world of difference. They inspired me to join sports teams, take dance class and audition for the school fashion show – which I did twice and loved the hell out of it :p I use to miss out on opportunities because I was too shy or worried I’d do badly at it and while it’s something I think I’ll have to combat forever, I still try and push myself to get out of my comfort zone and try things because I hate having regrets.
Once I entered college, I thought I had my entire life planned out. It sounds cliche, but I really did. A counselor in high-school told me that going into photography was my best option because it made a lot of money and that ‘a career in writing didn’t require professional training – you just had to be lucky.’ Obviously, that wasn’t the best advice I’ve ever received. Photography felt right at the time but I very quickly came to realize that it wasn’t what I wanted as my career and the intensity of the program quickly made me feel as though I was getting all the creativity sucked out of me. It felt like more of a burden and stress than a joy, I found the confidence to scrap it and change my major to what I really wanted – literature. I felt way more at peace then because I was actually learning something I was passionate about.
It’s only been in the recent year that my anxiety has been in full effect. Last February, right before March break, my grandmother got really ill. It was one of the hardest times of my life. Only 6 months later did we hear the news it was due to a tumor (which thankfully was successfully operated on) but waiting for that operation to actually happen felt like a lifetime. Then this July, my mother had a stroke. Suddenly, I was no longer able to sleep through the night once again. I’d have nightmares that they had gotten sick again or I’d simply lie awake worrying about it.
I realized then that I had to do something about it. I’m no doctor but the tips below have made a serious difference in my life.
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5 Ways to Deal
It might sound obvious, but I found that simply researching about the nature of anxiety (symptoms, why it happens, what it means, how to calm down, etc) really helped. Obviously Dr. google isn’t always reputable and in the best case scenario, asking your family doctor is the best way to go if you think you might suffer from anxiety.
2. Talk to Someone
Again, it might sound obvious, but it’s also crucial. Remember those nightmares I said I was having? I was having them for well over eight months and one night, I was just really done with the stress of it all so I confided in my dad what was happening. Just the fact that it was no longer only my problem made a huge difference because literally that night, the nightmares stopped and since then, I’ve slept through the night.
It’s been about a month since I’ve added yoga to my usual workout of pop pilates. It started out as a way for me to reach one of my fitness goals (being able to nail the headstand) and just a new challenge honestly. But then, it suddenly turned out to be much more important to me. It helped my headaches, calmed me down and gave me some good stretches and breathing techniques to do when you need to clear stressful thoughts from your mind. Currently I’m really into Yoga By Candace’s channel on YouTube <3
What do these books have in common? Absolutely nothing – and everything. Reading might sound like a random tip but I’ve found that it’s been more crucial than ever to me and my anxiety. Fiction (like the Abbi Glines book I love to tear through) offers a quick distraction from whatever is going on in my life. Non-Fiction offer not only a distraction but advice. I was beating myself up the other day about not being able to come up with a name for a specific place in my WIP and this morning, I gave myself some time to read a chapter of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlandish Companion. Coincidentally, the chapter was on names. I think the world of Gabaldon and her writing skills so to hear her struggles and process of coming up with names for her characters was really motivating and inspiring!
If you’re not ready to talk to someone and need to sort out your thoughts, I think doing something you’re passionate about is the best way to cope. Whether it’s art, sports, or cooking or whatever else, it’ll help ground you. We were asked to keep art journals in college to keep track of projects or random thoughts we wanted to save for later and I’ve found to this day I really like keeping an art book! It’s a way to get creative and lay out what I’m thinking visually. So next time you’re feeling stressed, stop what you’re doing and give yourself some ‘me’ time to do the thing you love.
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These are just some ways but since everyone is different, there are so many ways to ease anxiety. And don’t forget that you aren’t alone and that what you’re feeling isn’t weird or wrong.
Love you all and don’t forget to love yourself <3