I have been pretty open here about dealing with my anxiety.
To look at me, you wouldn’t know that I ever struggled with anything like that – people tell me that I’m fun, confident, and I can have fun on any dance floor that you put me on. But despite all of that, I have struggled with anxiety, for the better part of 5 years. Honestly, I know I dealt with it before, but I didn’t really have a name for it, and didn’t think that I needed to get help for it until I literally felt like it was running my life, and that I would need to go to rehab to get rid of the horrible feelings that accompany anxiety – the chest pains, the false sense that everyone doesn’t like you, the obsessive and repetitive thoughts – you get it.
Anxiety is one of those things that makes you understand why someone might self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. At the point at which you’re starting to become afraid to leave your house or to interact with others, the only thing you can think of before it’s time to admit there’s a problem is to do something, anything to make the feeling go away. Thankfully for me, I had the benefit of studying human behavior, and knowing that if I tried to treat my anxiety with anything illicit, that nothing good could come of it.
So anyhoo, I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure that anxiety doesn’t run my life, and for the most part, I really enjoy my life. A little spoiler alert, however, like a lot else, anxiety is one of those things that doesn’t ever completely go away. It sort of lays in wait, however, there are things that you can do to manage, not to avoid, your anxiety.
- That weird feeling creeping up? Chest tight? Feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin? Workout. Workout HARD, whatever that means for you. Maybe that’s a long run, a long Zumba ® Fitness class, a bike ride, or a long walk. Do not use this workout time to indulge your obsessive thoughts, rather, consider this time as spa time for you. It is your time to treat yourself. This is a treat. [Warning: Don’t let this develop into an obsession either.]
- Stop binge drinking. Though drinking is an excellent way for you to sort of get your mind off of what it is that you’re doing at the moment, once you come down (or are facing the hangover from hell), you’ve really knocked your body off-kilter. It’s a good time to take a little break from drinking all together actually.
- Skip the caffeine. Caffeine can be extremely useful for your productivity, but it also can contribute to that horribly jumpy feeling. If you’re addicted, try to go with a black tea, which just feels more relaxing to drink for me, or go half-caff (less shots of espresso) when you order your coffee.
- Cry. Don’t like, insanely cry at inappropriate times or in inappropriate places, but if you feel like you need to cry, cry. I am a firm believer that sometimes that lump in your throat, also rudely known as globus hystericus in mental health circles might just be tears stuck back there. Sometimes you really need that release, and if you need to cry, go somewhere where you feel comfortable doing so, and let those tears flow!
- Take a break. I hadn’t taken a day off of work in a really long time – and I love my job – but I completely forgot to take some time to recharge for me. And for the sake of my family. On my day off I ran, I watched The View for like 5 hours (I DVR every episode), I slept a ton, and caught up on some of the blogs I haven’t read in a while. It was glorious, and the following day, when I went into work, the sun was shining brighter, I felt more rested, and my office looked more inviting.
- And finally, if you’re on medication for your anxiety, take it! I am not a doctor, however, I do know that that stuff takes forever to get into your system, and when you forget a few pills, you’re screwing yourself up.
Like I said, I’m no doc, but these tips have personally been tried and true. How do you manage anxiety? Or are you one of those lucky sons that have lived a life without it?