I've struggled with anxiety for most of my life. When I was around 15 it was pretty intense. I was loosing my hair, and eventually had to see a stomach specialist for the symptoms. By my early 20's I was experiencing mild anxiety attacks that would come on spontaneously. My breath felt constricted in my throat and I had this overwhelming sense of something being off or very wrong without knowing what. In the last few years I feel like I've been taking steps that help curb my anxiety to where I don't often feel anxious or worried or out of control on the reg. There are many different forms of anxiety and where it stems from can vary greatly. For me anxiety comes from the crazy thoughts of perfectionism in my head and feeling out of control of events, outcomes and circumstances. Here are some of the things that I've been actively doing that have made a huge difference for me in dealing with anxiety in the last few years.
- Living simply and with order. I am a very organized and clean person so some of this comes naturally to me, but I'm a firm believer in my environment being a direct reflection of what's going on internally. For me, maintaining order and cleanliness in my house/environment makes a big difference. This also goes beyond a clean house. For me this includes finances and lifestyle. If I live within my means and ensure that my bills are kept to a minimum it frees up space in my brain and emotionally so anxiety can't show it's ugly face in that area of my life.
- Putting my own health and wellness first. I am a reformed people pleaser, and have gotten really good at being in tune with what I need in order to function best. This goes from establishing recognizable boundaries with family and friends to allowing myself to #treatyoself. If I don't touch base with myself on a regular basis and book in a massage, have a therapy session, say no, read a book, have a glass of wine, that's not going to be good for me or for anyone around me.
- Practicing Yoga and Meditation. I should have written this at the top of this list. This has played the biggest part in getting my anxiety under control. I know it's annoying to hear it again and again but exercise makes a big difference. Yoga has worked for me, and eventually meditation joined in. My practice is consistent but there are also techniques I am able to use in the face of anxiety, which include laying with my legs up the wall, breathing 5-8 counts in and 5-8 counts out, and finding guided meditations to help put me to sleep.
- Drinking less alcohol/caffeine. Ugh. What a stupid correlation. The thing is I started becoming more aware and in tune with how these things were affecting me. I love my coffee and my wine but my peace of mind and freedom of those dumb anxiety attacks is worth the sacrifice. Personally it's wine that interferes more. I keep my coffee intake pretty structured: 1-2 cups in the morning with the OCCASIONAL latte before and no later than 3 o'clock. As for wine I make sure to give my body/liver space and time to re-generate between glasses. This means I give myself a few days off throughout the week. And when I do enjoy a glass of wine it's no more than 2 glasses. (Listen, there are times I break this rule, mostly when I'm with friends and having fun is really important too but overall this is what I try to stick to). If I stray too much from this I end up waking up in the middle of the night with intense anxiety and risk loosing sleep.