Anxiety is real. And it's not your fault.
Did you know that as a group, anxiety disorders represent the most common of all mental illnesses?*
Anxiety is also not simple. It's not just about being worried about something that you should be worried about. It's not stress about normal things and it doesn't follow a pattern. Mostly, it doesn't allow you to make sense of it and this is how it keeps you controlled.
Instead, anxiety is this overwhelming hyper awareness that makes you feel like all eyes are on you. It covers you and makes you unable to have a rationale thought about anything and causes you to worry about a whole pile of irrational crap instead. It makes your body feel like your nerves are on the outside of your skin. It feeds on itself and grows until you feel so crushed, so powerless, that you just want to shrink and hid.
I know anxiety very well. I've known it the for the better part of my life - and I still struggle with it everyday. And if one more person tells me to "just stop worrying about things and shake it off"...well - I might just need to stab them in the eye with a fork.
So if you go through periods of feeling crippling anxiety like I do - what can you do about it?
Here are some of my tips to cope:
- Some days are just going to suck. If you can't move and are completely overwhelmed and you can spend a day giving in to your anxiety, then just give in. And know that tomorrow will be a better day.
- Talk to your doctor about medication. Anxiety has a neurological, physical basis. If your brain chemistry is out of whack then there are drugs that can help with boosting neurotransmitters, like serotonin, and these can help you to be more stable. Remember anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure - are all real physical conditions. Your brain is an organ and it is part of your body. You can't just 'will it' to be okay.
- Get outside and do anything. Fresh air, movement and distraction can get you out of your head and boost the good stuff in your brain. Walk the dog, shovel some snow, garden, go to the park - just get out.
- Stay on a routine. Even if you aren't up for anything big, get out of bed and move around. Push yourself through your day. Wash the dishes, do some laundry - do whatever you can to feel somewhat productive.
- Eat something in the morning. Get something into your system to help your brain, body and blood sugar to be as stable as possible. Control the things you can, like fueling your body.
- Get away from your computer or gaming system. If games or Facebook help you to decompress, that's fine. but keep them in moderation. Several studies have shown that the light from computer screens and the constant input of video games actually change the way your brain functions.
- Use perspective. Talk to yourself about whatever is locking you up. Paint the worse case scenario in your mind of something that is making you seize and play it out. For example, if you picture yourself locking up and not being able to order a coffee at Tim Horton's, then picture yourself standing buck naked in the middle of Tim Horton's. Suddenly the first scenario is not so bad. Know that if you miss school or work, the world will keep spinning and everything will still be there tomorrow. Remember - life is not a race, and it is very messy, so just do the best you can each day. And breathe.
Those of you who work with me know that the basis of my coaching is self-awareness. Start the process today of figuring out how you are built.
Then learn to embrace the things that you love about yourself and learn to deal with the stuff you just aren't crazy about.
If anxiety is one of your struggles, then call it forth - don't let it hide in the dark. Stare it down and look at it from all angles. Get mad at it, name it for what it is, then follow my tips to help to keep it in line.
You can do this. I did. I do.
And tomorrow will be a better day.
(* Source: Mood Disorders Canada)
Judy Mouland loves to challenge the status quo and chip away at the word ‘normal.’ Over the years, she has learned to embrace and use her own quirky brain to succeed and is passionate about the power of self-awareness. She became a CTI (Coaches Training Institute) Life Coach for people with ADHD, LD, OCD (and their favorite cousins; anxiety and depression) after serving for 20+ years in local, national and international settings, most recently as the C.E.O. of the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada. She works to empower her clients to live life on their own terms - no excuses – and to uncover their brilliance so they can shine. She is a member of the International Coaches Federation and freely admits that most everything she knows she has learned from her three exceptional children, who never let her brain become idle. Her empowering blog posts can be found at: www.judymouland.com/blog