Happy Free-Thinking Friday! Welcome to the very first Free-Thinking Friday post of the year! I decided to start the year off with this post because it took a pretty long time to realize my anxiety was the source of my panic attacks, mood swings and overall negativity. At the top of the slippery-slope that was my depression sat anxiety prepared to get the ball rolling at any slight inconvenience. So, let’s get right into it, here are the 10 ways I manage my anxiety:
1. Reset every night
This is soo important for me personally but it took me a really long time to realize it. I could write a whole post about this point and I will (stay tuned) but to put it succinctly, there is a direct correlation between my mental health, stress level and the state of my living space. Every night I reset by doing the following: I put my clothes where they belong, I pick up all the toys my puppy played with, I wash the dishes and tidy up behind myself. I’ve noticed that when I don’t reset at the end of the day, the mess just piles up and when I wake up to disorganization and disarray I set myself up for an overwhelming day.
This one is rather self explanatory so I’ll keep it brief. I like to start and end my day with meditation because life happens. It’s easier to carry resentment from one day into the other when you don’t take a second to breathe, reframe the situation, practice acceptance and forgive those who need it (this includes forgiving yourself and those who never asked for forgiveness).
3. Plan, plan, plan, and plan
I have a lot of anxiety about the future & in order to stay organized and reduce my level of anxiousness I create detailed plans. I make financial plans, detailed schedules and specific to-do lists. Being able to have a visual representation of my organized plans and thoughts allows me to feel in control and subsequently less anxious.
4. Research before jumping into things
I love trying new things but most of these new experiences are followed by weeks of intentional research. Having the knowledge to make informed decisions relieves me of anxiety about future decisions because I trust that I’ve done the necessary work to put myself in a good starting position.
5. Give myself grace
Life is hard and as humans we are prone to make mistakes. It is unfair to hold ourselves to impossible standards so in order to relieve a lot of the anxiousness I feel surrounding past mistakes and everything else, I have to give myself the grace I deserve. Grace also allows us to grow and become better people because it gives us the space to look at mistakes for what they are. A mistake does not define your character, nor does it determine your future so give yourself grace each day and don’t allow negativity to control you.
6. Stay open to learning
I love hearing what other people do to stay healthy and prioritize their well being and being open to advice has benefited me greatly because a lot of people have more experience and expertise than I do and they are great teachers and being open to learn has allowed me to try new things and find what works for me a lot faster. This point is similar to number 4 but the main difference is, though I may do the work ahead of time, life often throws curve-balls along the way so staying open to learning instead of sticking to what I originally believed after my initial round of research allows me to learn so much more.
7. Listen to my needs
Sometimes while my mind is screaming “hey sis, you have 10 deadlines”, my body is begging for rest. I’ve noticed that when I push myself past these initial warnings I end up crashing harder than I would’ve if I had taken short periods of rest over time. When I ignore my needs I end up harming myself emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally.
8. Create and maintain boundaries
I know I’m not old but it seems insane that at the age of 24 I’m truly learning about boundaries for the first time. So far, I’ve read 1.75 books and had illuminating conversations with my therapist about this topic. Boundaries, for those who find themselves giving freely, allow us to maintain a sense of self without getting swept into only helping others. Boundaries also allow me to determine what is safe, appropriate and healthy. An example of a boundary that helps ease my anxiety is, not texting/talking on the phone with certain people late at night. This boundary allows me to devote the last few hours of my day to unwinding and preparing for the day ahead. I’ve noticed that long and exhausting phone conversations can take away from my ability to unwind and prepare for the following day.
9. Create a routine
I have a very specific night and morning routine. These two things allow me to protect my energy at the edges of the day. I do my best to breathe, meditate, stretch and drink water when I first wake up, in an effort to set myself up to be successful that day. I also do my best to tidy up, prep for the following day and prepare myself for a full restful sleep at night.
At the beginning of my experience with my therapist, I learned that the source of a lot of my negativity was my negative self talk. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t this and I couldn’t that and frankly I had convinced myself to believe lies that tore me down. Words of affirmation is not how I show love naturally so I had to get accustomed to loving myself with words but it was necessary because my own words had convinced me that I wasn’t worthy of love, peace and healing.