Almost two years ago, I wrote about the transformation minimalism made on my anxiety. It includes all of my history with anxiety and depression, but I have yet to update you on my journey with it since that time. Being two years later, a lot has happened. I want to walk you through the realizations that I have had since learning more about mental health. My anxiety feels completely different than before, yet it still feels the same.
I was up late the other night, and came across a post on Facebook written by Scary Mommy that brought me to tears. For those of you who suffer with anxiety, I know you can relate to this post, but for those who cannot, give it a read. Here is just a little excerpt from it.
Anxiety is heartbreaking for her. Really it is. She wishes she could just feel free. The free feeling of just being carefree and not a prisoner to this ugly illness. Free of the voice that follows her listing all her insecurities.
Anxiety is not an easy fix, which a lesson I learn time and time again. It is one reason I have such a hard time being consistent with this blog. You look at your plate and fret over what to add to the soup bowl for a bit. You do not want to give any of it up, but you know that you cannot handle it all. Then insecurities set in and make things even worse. It really is a living nightmare at points.
I feel like this is something I need to share, because I know lots of people struggle with it. You may be one of those people, and I want you to know you are not alone. My hope is that this post will connect with you, and give you a sense of peace and knowing that it will be okay. You may not feel like it at the very moment you are reading this. I know, I am there right now with you. But if you are in the mist of a crazy anxiety spell or always feel like you are drowning in it, I hope you will read through this anyways.
The Truth About Anxiety
Anxiety is something you can be born with having or due to a traumatic event. Whatever the cause, the roller coaster ride is typically a wild one. You can go months or years without feeling it. It can be something you struggle with every day of your life. It can paralyze you dead in your tracks. No matter how badly you try to fight it off, it can still win. It is dark and moody. Worst of all, it is a part of your story and it is not going anywhere.
1// Anxiety can come on with the smallest trigger.
One minute you are smiling and laughing, but the next you are almost in tears. It makes no sense whatsoever, but the truth is that happens all of the time. The most random things can spark it, like someone leaving their dirty towel in the middle of the bathroom floor, instead of in the hamper. You could see the cutest baby at the store, and go home bawling because it only remind you of what you do not have.
2 // Anxiety does not care who you hurt.
The last thing it cares about is who it hurts. You can try all the breaking techniques you want to calm down, but if your anxiety is flared, you best just leave the space to avoid an unnecessary argument. Once it is triggered, you have to take measures outside of what may be considered “normal” to someone who does not suffer with anxiety. Most of the time, you just want to be left alone. If that is not given to you, it maybe only a matter of time until your top blows. Of course, this is not genuinely what you want to happen, but the control over it seems impossible.
3 // Anxiety does not make sense to people who do not suffer with it.
It is no ones fault for not understanding how difficult anxiety can be to cope with each day, and they should not. If you have it, you know you do not wish this on anyone else. The constant thinking and overthinking of everything is almost unbearable. Not being able to go to bed easily and being up for hours into the night with random thoughts is exhausting.
4// Anxiety makes you seem like a negative person.
I like to think of it as being cautious or thinking of every scenario that can occur, no matter how ridiculous or crazy it maybe. However, the major reason I do this is to prepare myself for the worst case scenario. It blows my mind that most people do not even think about the worst case scenarios. How do they do that? I often get accused of being negative, because my business education says that is what you should do. While it is relevant for some circumstances, I realize that some situations do not need that overthinking. It is the anxiety of thinking, “What if the worst case scenario actually happens?”
5// Anxiety does not care where you are when it strikes.
From the middle of a supermarket or middle of a forest alone, anxiety is going to strike whenever it pleases. Do not count on getting through the check out line with tons of people around without feeling some sense of pressure. You may have to change your surrounds, and most of the time, it is better to do so quickly than wait.
6// Anxiety makes you feel like you have a zero support system.
Maybe no one you are close to understands how anxiety works, but there is always someone there to support you. I pray you never feel like you are alone in dealing with it. It can seem so lonely, and you may feel abandonment. Just know there is always someone there! My door is always open, if you feel like you have no one else to turn to! Please reach out and contact me on social media [icons located at top right] or by email. Just talking through it can help.
7// Anxiety makes you care less about a self-care routine.
When you are in the thick of your anxiety, the last thing you may want to do is anything that resembles a self-care routine. The basics, shower and brushing teeth, may be all you feel like doing. While it is not ideal to get to the other side, you really couldn’t care less. Wallowing does not look good on anyone, until you feel like it is all you can do to get out of bed or go to work everyday, then who cares at that point.
8// Anxiety comes on regardless of how tidy your home is.
I wrote my original post once I felt the relief of letting go of so many things. Downsizing really put things into perspective, but it did not cure it. While things are much worse with a lot of clutter, they are not always going to be great with a tidy home. There is a saying about having a tidy home or car is a reflection of your mind, but that is not always the case for someone with anxiety.
9// Anxiety is exhausting.
How much sleep do you get? Does it ever feel like enough? Sleeping for 6-8 hours is supposed to be normal for most people, but sometimes 10+ hours are needed to feel like you have gotten any sleep at all. Of course, getting that much sleep every night is pretty difficult, especially if you have a family to care for. Resting all weekend does not help either. Whether you are passively watching TV or half-way trying to keep up with the laundry, it does not matter. Having an anxious mind means that you think all of the time, and you cannot switch it off.
How to Cope with Anxiety
Because there is not cure for anxiety, you have to find ways to cope with it. It is best to get your family on board with your triggers or signs that they need to back off a bit. Figuring out boundaries prior to severe flares will help prevent unnecessary arguments or uncontrolled lashing out at the people you love. The following are only a suggestions. Each flare of anxiety feels different and is coped with differently.
1// Learn what your triggers are.
This may take time to discover, but once you find a pattern, you can take ways to prevent the trigger. Explain your triggers to your household. They can help prevent triggering you as well. For example, my husband comes in to ask me each day if I have fed all of the animals. If I have not, he does. He picks up the slack so that I can relax before I start to cook supper, which is another area that has a lot of stress surround it. He also cleans the kitchen after we eat dinner, because he knows having a clean kitchen before we go to bed will help me fall asleep faster, plus we just like having a clean kitchen in general.
2// Avoid things that trigger you, if possible.
Going off of the last suggestion, if you know your triggers, you can learn how to avoid them by delegating or not going to a particular place. Another personal example is being in control. It stresses me out so badly, but I am a natural control freak. Since I have learned that other people are just as competent, delegating or letting go of this control has helped a lot!
3// Listen to your favorite music.
One thing I have to do is toss on some headphones, turn on some rock music [yes, I am a woman who loves many genres and rock is one of my favorites for when my anxiety is over the top], and rock out for a few hours. Taking your mind from focusing on what triggered your anxiety to banging your head and sing at the top of your lungs can help a lot! Just know that if you are not feeling the music, change it! There is nothing worse than being annoyed by music and being anxious at the same time.
4// Get some space.
When my anxiety is flared, all I want is to be left alone! Give me time to let it pass! If you suffer with these random irritations that you cannot shake, you understand. Quiet time can be the best thing to help you relax and regain focus on what the reality is.
5// Let the emotions flow.
Sometimes the only thing you can do is let the emotions flow. A good cry maybe just the right medicine to get back to what your “normal” feels like. You may feel like climbing to a mountain top and screaming, or yelling into a pillow. Whatever you feel, just do it [as long as you are not going to hurt yourself or someone else in the process].
6// Be direct with what you need from others.
Sometimes anxiety can make you feel needy. If you need to hold your spouse’s hand or a hug, ask for it. Do not expect them to read your mind, because you will only end up feeling worse.
7// Do a self-care evening.
You may not feel like it, but do it anyways. The worst case scenario 😉 is that you still feel blue, but at least you are taking care of yourself! You may want to try a new face mask or go for a run. There is no wrong or right when it comes to self-care, so long as you are caring for your body.
8// Talk to someone.
Now I am not necessarily meaning a shrink, but talking can help to release the build up you may feel. Sometimes just getting things out there does a lot to improve our mental health. My go to person is my grandmother, as I have said multiple times on this blog. She is my rock and always leaves me feeling lighter than before I talked to her. If you have a person like that in your life, let them support you by using them as your shoulder.
9// Get out in the sunshine.
Vitamin D goes a long ways to helping decrease your anxiety and depression. Get outside and plant some flowers, vegetables/fruit, or even some trees! My favorite things to do outside include mowing the lawn, gardening, and taking a walk. Of course, protect your body with sunscreen, but soak in the warmth the sun provides!
There is a lot more I could say on the topic of anxiety and depression. If you struggle with anxiety, I hope this post helps you see two things:
- You are never alone!
- You can cope with anxiety. It is not easy by any means, but it is possible!
One thing you may have noticed that I did not include was medication. I do not personally believe that medication is the answer to my anxiety. I have tried it in the past, and I am not willing to change my entire personality to calm my nerves. & If I am not willing to do it, I am certainly not going to recommend it to you!
Remember, if you need someone to talk to, I am here for you! Email me, comment below, or find me on one of my social media channels [located at the top right of the page].
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