At some point in our lives, we get anxious right before a big decision, an examination or making a public speech. Whatever the case may be, what is being conveyed here is that anxiety is a thing most of us cannot run from.
I have a problem with anxiety. Not like the “oh, time to take that test” nervousness, but more like anxiety has taken the front row seat in orchestrating my life. If it’s not trying to tell me how I should act or react, it is trying to ruin the very confidence that I hold so dear on a daily basis. Either way, it’s nothing short of debilitating and it has become so involved that I have referred to it as an actual person sometimes.
After years of having anxiety as my best friend, I decided to get help—maybe help got me. In the form of a 5ft 1inch woman, barely peeping over her desk with glasses perched on her straight nose and hair as white as snow. From what I assumed, she was a proper woman and as her lips parted, all my speculations were confirmed, indeed she was.
Finding a solution for what I described as damaged when referring to myself, was by far her greatest challenge and with outstretched arms and a warm smile, she connected, without even trying, to the depths of my soul.
With society proposing that only “crazy” people see counselors, my leap of faith wasn’t to be that rebel to what Jamaica seem to conform to, but to finally put an end to my anxiety on steroids. My biggest issue was that I lost my ability to sit examinations, and before I even finish I would be convinced I failed. That coupled with self-doubt, I really was fighting a losing battle. Honestly, she had her ‘work cut out for her’ but she never once looked perturbed.
As time elapsed, she brought me to a place that I was more confident in myself that I was in a long time. Anxiety suddenly started to disown me because I frankly wasn’t as exciting and it no longer got the reaction it so craved every time. It was so rewarding that I mustered the mettle to evict my anxiety telling it that was no longer welcome and it has not been the same since.
Anxiety is not something that many people can overcome and some have become so debilitated that they can no longer cope. Over the years, I have found some coping strategies that have definitely helped me:
- Take some ME time
Some argue that me time allows your mind to wander on thoughts that aren’t particularly helpful in being positive. However, taking some time away to meditate, exercise or clear your head, will definitely put your mind at ease. You can also try distracting yourself with listening to audiobooks, podcasts or music to help keep a positive and productive mood.
- Deep breathe
Inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply not only regulates your patterns but definitely helps you center your thoughts and decrease the level of stress experienced. It will also help to count to ten slowly; by then whatever you were anxious or upset about wouldn’t be as important.
- Sleep well and eat balanced meals
Ensuring that you sleep well, at least 6-7 hours, will help alleviate stress as well as eating well-balanced meals which will help boost the energy needed for day to day activities. Also, avoiding alcohol and caffeine will lower the occurrence of irritability and aggravation of panic attacks.
- Accept that your best is good enough
Acceptance is one of the hardest things to do, especially in a society that promotes that perfection is the way to go and if you are not the ‘ideal’, then you are inferior. You cannot control everything and sometimes you have to deal with shortfalls; it is up to you to accept you for you, the way you are instead of aiming for perfection.
- Laugh and be happy, or at least try
Positivity is contagious, so laughter can only be better. Not to mention, it not only eases the face from stress and frowning, but it helps to get in a positive mindset of happiness. Developing a habit of looking at the positive allows the conscious to feel relieved and be more relaxed to take on the day and not be affected as much as usual.
- Connect with a friend or anyone
Talking about what affects you and especially how you’re feeling is known to help if the listener is there to do just that, listen. Connect with a friend or try to talk with someone, be it a counselor or therapist, who will listen to what you’re going through and offer helpful advice on the road to making progress.
- Get involved in something
Being involved in a society, network, outreach or volunteer club will also distract you from the issue at hand. Often times, volunteering and philanthropy is a popular coping strategy that has notably helped persons deal with anxiety.
- Explore what triggers your anxiety
Knowing the trigger of your anxiety not only helps you anticipate and avoid it, but you are better able to have control over your anxiety. Writing in a journal and documenting your triggers will help when you’re feeling anxious or stressed and as a result, you are able to look for a pattern.
By Alexandra Daley