For as long as I can remember, I have struggled with anxiety and stress. In elementary school, I struggled taking tests, being away from my parents for longer than a few days, and being in new places. I remember when anxiety would pop up as a kid- I would immediately start crying. I had no way of communicating to others what I was feeling, but I knew I hated it. Eventually my anxiety subsided, and I would continue on thinking I just had a stomach ache or something. I was fortunate enough to experience anxiety in waves. There were times/years even where I experienced little to none, but when it did hit- it would hit hard and for long periods of time. My second big round of anxiety was in high school. My anxiety was so bad that I struggled to get to school in the morning. I would wake up and immediately throw up, break out in panic sweats, get tunnel vision, and shake profusely. I missed a lot of school, which did not help when I had days where I would drag myself to school. Because I was missing so much school- I was behind, and it was a big anxiety trigger for me to be sitting in class and have zero idea of what anyone was doing. It didn’t matter how many friends I had- I felt completely alone. Eventually, my parents put me in therapy, and finally I had someone I could talk with who knew exactly what I was going through, and would provide guidance on how to get through it. The best part- I suddenly had a name for this thing that had taken up so much of my life. I felt such relief to be able to say, “I have anxiety.” or “This is an anxiety attack.” My time with my therapist is definitely one of the biggest reasons I have become a therapist, and love working with the adolescent population so much.
Overtime, I learned to prevent and manage my anxiety, but as I got older- I also had to learn how to know and understand my anxiety triggers. For a while, I ignored them, and would run myself into the ground-ignoring my building stress until I would break. This resulted in a panic attack. Panic attacks are the absolute worst. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack and called 911. When the responder told me I was having a panic attack, I was mortified. Panic attacks/ anxiety attacks leave you feeling drained, embarrassed, isolated, and scared. It’s tough, and I deeply feel for anyone who experiences them.
For a few years now I haven’t had panic attacks, and have only had anxiety for a few days here and there. When I do get anxiety, I am able to work through it and for the most part continue to do my day as planned. It’s all thanks to these tips and tricks. I have worked for years to find what helps me work through times of stress and anxiety, and have found ways that help me avoid having spells of anxiety. I decided to share these with you all! I’ve also included things that I have learned to use with my clients : ]
If you want more detail on these tips watch my video Here
- Understand what you can and cannot control
I have a blogpost about what exactly we can and cannot control. Knowing and understanding that there is just some stuff that no matter how hard I try I cannot change or manipulate has helped me manage and prevent my anxiety. Mostly because it keeps me focused on what I can control. It also helps when anxiety does creep up, because I am able to talk myself out of over stressing over something that I know would be a waste of time.
- Get outside and outside of the negative space
When anxiety hits- it’s common to want to just curl up in bed and watch Netflix all day. The issue with doing this is it allows the anxious mentality to win, and to stay. When you force yourself to get outside you take yourself out of that negative space and can result in you thinking differently about your current situation.
- Exercise Daily
I highly suggest doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Look. I know a lot of people feel that they don’t have enough time in the day, but I always tell clients- you have to prioritize your health and your body first. The second your body starts suffering everything else will start to go too. Here is why you want to do this, 30 minutes of physical activity a day can greatly reduce your stress and anxiety. In fact, studies have shown that when it comes to reducing stress, exercise is one of the best things you can do. Even if you just set aside time for a 30 minute walk, it will get you the same results.
- Take control of your thoughts
It’s hard to admit, because anxiety can feel so heavily based in your emotions, but your thoughts actually have a major part in the process. In psych, we call it distorted thinking. These types of thoughts are usually inaccurate and not backed by true experience. When your mind starts running crazy with anxious thoughts it’s important to take a minute, slow down, and test the validity of these thoughts. Most of the time you will find that you have been through this before, or that you are catastrophizing what could happen rather than thinking about it rationally.
- Build and rely on your support system
It’s so important to have people in your life that you can lean on when you’re going through something difficult like anxiety. Especially try and have people who also have anxiety. This is important because it’s hard for someone who has never experienced anxiety to really understand with your experience. Having at least one person who knows exactly what you are going through and can can be there for you with advice and tips is invaluable. If you don’t have friends who have anxiety- don’t fret- click on a youtube video of someone talking about their experience, or search on instagram hashtags and engage with them. There are so many people who experience this, yet it is so easy to feel completely alone. Connection is so so important. The more we disconnect for others- the messier and harder it is to get out of your anxious state.
Self-care is the most important thing to prevent stress and anxiety. Giving yourself some time everyday to just take care of you can greatly reduce your perception of anxiety. I find that the more I ignore how I’m feeling or needing, the more I experience stress and anxiety. Think about the things that truly make you feel relaxed and at ease. Write them all down in a list form. Whenever you start to experience stress or anxiety, refer to your self-care list and devote some time to do those things. Some of my favorite things to do for self-care are, yoga, exercise, spa nights, watching a really funny movie, and baking some yummy treats.
Anxiety really is a bitch. There’s no way to completely eliminate it from your life, but these are just a few ways to help manage and prevent it from completely taking over your life.