Tips for Handling Anxiety

Let me start by stating the obvious: I am not a doctor or an expert, this is just my journey...

Yesterday I had my first panic attack. Actually, I guess it was technically my second... the first one being just last Thursday and absolutely pain induced with the dreaded dental situation I was going through. However, this was my first one that crept up on me out of the comfort of my own home. The past few days I’ve been pretty freaking anxious, and yesterday morning reached a new peak. I went to my scheduled workout class, thinking maybe it would help, but midway through felt a level of panic and emotion that I had never experienced before. Feeling as if I needed to just have a mini breakdown, I left the class and did just that: hysterically cried in the bathroom stall for a few minutes. I feel a bit calmer overall now, but (no surprise) I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the situation and felt a desire to share with you all in hopes of encouraging you to believe one thing: you are not alone. If you feel this frequently, or even every once and awhile, take comfort in the fact that there are others who are experiencing this also. I’m not sure of my exact triggers, but here are some of the ones I imagine are playing a role: lots of weekend travel/always feeling “on the go”, missing parts of my daily routine, always being “on” or accessible, upcoming work projects that excite me but definitely intimidate me, being wired by my old job to instantaneously respond to every inbound, and feeling like there is never enough time to complete everything I want to do. I frequently speak with my therapist about the fact that I try to “perfect” my anxiety; figure out exactly why I’m feeling it, doing everything in my power to make it go away, and then getting angry when it returns. While I try to be aware of my triggers and also implement things that help keep it at bay, I’m also trying to accept that sometimes it is out of my control (something, if you know me, I don’t stomach all too well). So, in an effort to acknowledge its presence while also attempting to minimize it, and hoping to help others out there, here are some of the practices I implement:

Free options:

✨ MEDITATING: there is nothing that has helped me more over the past year and a half. I meditate every morning for 20 minutes, practicing a mantra-based style that I learned at Ziva Meditation. I am making an effort to get back into the afternoon meditation practice as well with a 10 minute session
✨JOURNALING: (pictured) it seems silly, but this is a tool I rely on heavily when I am feeling my most anxious. It allows me to brain dump all of the thoughts I’m having that may be causing me these anxious feelings and then move forward with a clearer mind. It is where I come up with many business ideas, draft important conversations with key points, and either talk myself down emotionally or pump myself up
✨ GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP: this is so important to me. I am a big believer in getting the proper amount of sleep you need. This differs for everyone, but, for me, I am a 10:00PM-5:30AM kinda gal. I like to get in bed around 9:30PM (I know, grandma over here) and give myself some time to unwind and read. The early morning wake up comes naturally to me, as it used to be much earlier for my past corporate world life, and allows me to spend some alone time in the mornings preparing for my day before the rest of the city wakes up
✨IMPLEMENTING A MORNING & NIGHTTIME ROUTINE: I obviously am a routine type of person, and the morning & nighttime routine that I’ve implemented help me wake up for the day and unwind for the night. In the morning, this includes my meditation, a glass of warm lemon water with ACV, and then a coffee or matcha. At night I usually have a cup of tea and then, after I brush my teeth, go through my skincare routine. I then get in bed and try to leave myself 30 minutes to unwind by either chatting with Joe or reading a book. I have a rule in the bedroom that I always try to follow: no phones.
✨LIMITING TIME SPENT ON TECHNOLOGY: this one is tough for me, especially given my current job, but too much time on technology encourages my anxiety. The constant inflow of information that is not necessarily important for my day-to-day provides a wave of overwhelming emotions.
✨DOING SOMETHING THAT MAKES YOU SMILE OR LAUGH: this sounds silly, but such small things can bring me joy. Calling up a loved one, watching a funny TV show (Friends or the Office are my go-tos), or dancing to loud music in your apartment.
✨BREATHING: yes, this one is obvious as we must breathe to stay alive, but focusing on your breathe takes you out of your own mind. I personally am not one that can breathe in, hold, and breathe out for long periods of time so I practice a 5 second breath in and a 5 second breath out
✨REPEATING MANTRAS: I learned this from @daxshepard, but I find myself repeating in my mind “this is temporary”. Its easy to believe that these feelings are permanent and cause the anxiety to get worse, so this is a friendly reminder that this too shall pass
✨GOING FOR A WALK: sometimes getting outside is all I need to calm down. I put on soothing music, put my phone away, and go for a walk.
✨EATING FOODS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD: by now I know what foods I am able to tolerate and seek comfort in versus ones that wreak havoc on my stomach. No surprise here, but I try to focus on the foods I easily digest and enjoy
✨LIMITING SUGAR INTAKE: this one is especially hard for me as I have a severe sweet tooth, but I unfortunately notice a large difference when I cut back on the sugars

Practices that cost money:

✨THERAPY: this has been the best gift I have given myself in 2019. Being able to talk through my emotions in a safe space with zero judgement has helped me not only get to the root of a lot of my feelings, but also talk myself out of certain situations on a daily basis. For recommendations, please visit this blog post.

Photograph by @sophiesahara 

*Update as of September 2019: I am currently on medication to help manage my anxiety. More on that to come soon…*