How Anxiety Is Working To Make Me A Better Person

How Anxiety Is Working To Make Me A Better Person

Through my struggle with anxiety (and it still isn't an easy one), I'm striving to learn from the ways it's teaching me that it's not always a negative thing.

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We are all in this together.

In the throws of anxiety's attack, it's normal to feel like you can't be understood, and worse, like you're completely alone. This can leave anxiety sufferers feeling lost and afraid. In reality, many people struggle with anxiety and many don't, yet everyone knows this feeling. As I've learned what causes me to become anxious and begin to show symptoms of an attack, I've learned that anxiety is a struggle that requires continual awareness and intentional coping to manage. So, how could such a seemingly uncontrollable and unforgiving struggle such as anxiety ever be a good thing?

I know there are people around me fighting their own unavoidable battles on a daily basis. Looking around can be discouraging because I often feel like no one understands the effect that anxiety can have on my day-to-day life, but this helps me to remember that everyone is prone to fear, loneliness, and feeling lost. Even those who are succeeding greatly and seem to have it all together have setbacks of their own. Nobody is perfect, and that is a fact. We are all in this together, and by knowing that we all struggle, we are more prone to helping one another feel more understood.

I should be the friend that I sometimes need.

By gaining a better understanding of my anxiety, I've grown to be more empathetic of other's struggles and pain. This is leading me to better understand that when others are going through tough times, they may not need may not be what I think is best. For example, I have several close friends who, in the face of hardships, prefer to cope in different ways. In situations like this, it's easy for me to want to focus more on what I think they need than being there in the way that they actually need me to be. Knowing so well that there are different ways I prefer to cope with anxiety based on the situation, I'm working harder at being a better friend, one that people need, which means knowing when to listen, when to give them space, or when to simply be there when they ask. Whether my friends ask for help or simply prefer to be left alone, I know that the most important thing I can do is to exercise empathy and be patient and supportive of their needs, because this is all that I could ask for.

By asking for help, I might be helping someone else.

Sometimes, asking for help isn't easy to do. It can stir anxious feelings that you're burdening the person you're confiding in. In reality, asking for help can be more selfless than selfish. Asking for help and being honest lets the person you're confiding in knowing that you trust them, and should they ever need help, they are welcome to come to you. It also sets an example for the important point that asking for help is okay.

Remember, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. You're doing the right thing in more ways than one by pursuing someone whom you trust when you need a little push in the right direction.

It's my responsibility to make kindness contagious.

Perhaps the most important thing that I believe anxiety is teaching me is that there are billions of different perspectives all around me. Anxiety is an all-encompassing struggle. It can affect your mind, sleep, health, diet, and more. I've spent a lot of days feeling angry and fogged over because of how anxiety has interfered with my health and mood. Knowing what it's like to carry the burden of anxiety with me everywhere I go has taught me a lot about the importance of loving others. I understand that even the safest and warmest places can seem scary and dooming once anxiety takes control. This has allowed me to see the world through a different lens, understanding that there could be oceans of struggle beneath the surface in the lives of everyone around me. Some may be hidden, and others may be obvious, but we can never fully know what someone is battling.

The importance of kindness and patience in all things is essential, and this includes never judging a person by how they may be acting, or how they may seem on the outside. I'm growing toward becoming better at this every day despite struggles of my own, but I know that if I keep trying, I can make a difference.

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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12 Simple Ways To Ease Your Anxiety

These are some super simple ways to handle your stress at home.

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Anxiety and stress are very common problems for many of us in today's society.

Over 70% of adults face some sort of anxiety or stress in their lives.

It can really be overwhelming and can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day.

Pushing these feelings of anxiety and stress aside and letting them build up does nothing but cause more harm to our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, we just need a quick and easy way to help alleviate some of this stress to help us get through the day and to help us feel better.

Here are 12 ways to do just that:

1. Practice deep breathing

Mental stress and anxiety can cause your body to respond in physical ways. Since it affects your sympathetic nervous system, you might experience elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Breathing deeply and slowly can help slow your heart and ease your body back into a calm state. When I panic or feel overwhelmed, I breathe in slowly through my nose, think of one thing that makes me happy, slowly breathe out through my mouth, and repeat until I can feel my mind and body begin to calm.

2. Light a candle or start up your essential oil diffuser

My personal favorite scent to soothe my anxiety is lavender. However, you can also try chamomile, rose, orange, jasmine, sandalwood, or whatever else might help you.

3. Exercise

This is a big one, but can also be a very difficult one. Whenever you're feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, it might be hard enough for you to get yourself out of bed, let alone do any serious exercising. My best advice is to be proactive and try to pay attention to when you first start feeling your anxiety creep up on you. Just go ahead and get up and go for a walk, run, or whatever form of exercise you prefer!

4. Read a book

For me, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to help calm my nerves. Whenever I am knowingly going into a situation that will make me anxious, such as traveling, I always make sure to bring a book to read whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. Reading helps me to temporarily escape my anxieties and can be a big help in giving myself some much needed time to calm down.

5. Do yoga and practice meditation

Yoga is such a helpful activity for those with anxiety and stress! It kind of is just a combination of many different anxiety-relieving techniques (exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness). There are many different apps, books, classes, and websites you can use as a guide and help to do yoga. You can find what positions, locations, and situation are best for you. Doing yoga gives you a great opportunity to think about and reflect on your feelings and worries.

6. Spend time with loved ones (yes, even your furbabies)

Sometimes, all we need is a little love and reassurance in our lives to alleviate some of our anxieties. Spending time with your family, friends, and pets can help us to see and remember the good things we have in our lives. So many times, those of us with anxiety tend to seclude ourselves and that makes it easy to forget the good we have.

7. Drink more water

Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety. It can make you feel jittery and can be a cause for elevated heart rate. Drinking more water not only helps you physically (like hydrating your skin and body), but it can also do wonders for your mental health. When your body is unhealthy and unhappy, that can be a big factor in feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Take a short nap

If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes it can do some good to just take a short 30-minute nap. Just give yourself some time to rest your mind and body and face the issue with a new focus and fresh thoughts.

9. Journal

Even though writing down your feelings, bad or good, can be helpful, when you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try focusing on the positive! Write down a few things that made you happy today or a few things that you're grateful for. Don't let yourself be bogged down by the negative.

10. Clean

This might not work for everybody, but I know that sometimes when I'm feeling restless or anxious, cleaning and decluttering can help clear my mind. Basically, it's just good to find something to put your focus on when your anxious thoughts feel like too much. Try to pick a task and focus on that until you're finished. You'll likely find, in the end, that you feel much better than before you started.

11. Listen to happy and soothing music

Listening to music is a BIG help to some people with anxiety. However, you need to be mindful of what you're listening to. Don't put on the breakup playlist you made when you were 13. Find happy or soothing songs and make yourself a playlist of songs with themes of positivity.

12. Don't bottle up your feelings

This might just be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to handling your anxiety. The worst thing that you can do is to suppress your feelings and try to force yourself to forget about them. Hiding or bottling up your feelings might help temporarily, but that will just make you feel worse in the end. Talk to someone or try one of the other methods I mentioned to face your anxiety, but don't pretend like it doesn't exist.

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