Things to know about living with anxiety

There Are Some Secrets To Living With Anxiety That No One Tells You About

It really kills you from the inside out, trust me.

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I love the definition of the word anxiety. I love how the dictionary has no emotional sense of how much this one simple word can affect your life and how you think other people may see you. In the dictionary or even through Google searches, it defines anxiety as "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome."

What a simple ambiguous definition! Unfortunately, the dictionary does not know a certain thing about anxiety. What's funnier is that the online dictionary divides the definition of anxiety into different sections: a noun, and a term deemed by psychiatry.

In fact, people assume that if you have anxiety, you need therapy or you need to go to the psychiatrist for some SERIOUS help. I mean, it is true, I'm not gonna deny it. I for one have anxiety and I spend every living second of my life wondering what it would be like if I didn't have it. Would I stop worrying about everything every single second? Would I stop overthinking about stupid things that won't affect my lifestyle? Would I stop doubting my worth? Would I stop believing what everyone says, and what I think people think or judge about me?

I don't know. I really have a hard time knowing because I have anxiety. Anxiety is like this creepy-crawler that won't stop crawling into the holes of my body, haunting and messing with my head. It never leaves; it just wiggles in and then wiggles out, and appears every single time I have one small belief in myself.

Say I'm performing in front of the class during a class presentation and I'm reading off of the notes on my notecard feeling quite pleasant, there would then be a short hiatus in which I freeze and then forget everything. It's funny. Everything is written on my index card, it's just the words won't come out.

My mind then shuts down, and everyone in the audience starts to look like monsters with devil horns and squinty eyes. I then start shaking and my hands immediately start sweating a mile a minute. The few words coming out of my mouth sounds like quiet stutters and shy whimpers. I hear a few chuckles here and there as I can't bear to look up. It was one of my worst anxiety attacks, one of which I pretty much paused for five minutes just staring at the card, not knowing how to read.

Another anxiety attack experience would be during my final piano recital performance at Carnegie Hall where I completely blanked. It was a situation which I thought I would have handled pretty well, if not for my anxiety. I had practiced the piece several times at home and memorized it without any errors.

It began smoothly in the room with the audience, and the piece was memorized, but the accuracy got interrupted by a single noise: a baby crying. Somehow, that baby was the point of my downfall. I suddenly found myself repeating the same music interval, and thought to myself, damn it, I knew this part. Because I did not have my sheet music in front of me, I had nothing to base it off of. All I could do was just stare at the piano notes and panic.

I tried to play the same interval so that I could somehow remember the rest of the notes that went along with it, but it did not work. Even worse, my parents in the front row were super disappointed, I could feel their disapproving eyes glaring at me. Even worse, my piano teacher had to go up herself and whisper in my ear, telling me to just repeat the first half of the theme of the piece to make do for a good ending just to redeem myself. Even now, I can hear her regretful tone.

If you're born with anxiety, it grows the more you age. But if you're not, you're one of the lucky few until it hits you when you reach puberty or when you get to a certain age. If you have stage fright, you most likely have some form of anxiety. If you overthink, you also have some anxiety. Unfortunately for me, I've always had anxiety. Obviously, when I was young, I didn't know what it was, and I never knew that it affected my life to a certain degree.

Until I got to high school, I knew it took a toll on me. During tests, I would have a blanking phase where I forgot formulas. At home, my self-esteem in doing something would suddenly die and drop down to zero, convincing myself that I was nothing. At school, I would sometimes feel as if my own friends were talking shit behind my back, and all of their compliments were just backhanded and ingenuine.

I didn't think it was happening to anyone else, and so I kept it silent for years. I always thought I was different, so I felt if I told anyone about it, they would judge and look at me with a weird expression on their face. I didn't want anyone to know, so I tried so hard to fit into society's norms. But I still stood out.

Up to this day, I know my anxiety is always gonna be there. And even though it always will be there, I know if I surround myself with the right kinds of supportive and loyal people, they will help me learn to overcome my fear of anxiety overpowering my life. It had for a short amount of time until I knew I had to fight back somehow.

And this time, I believe I can overcome it. Not completely, but a little bit of it.

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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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10 Different Strategies To Eliminate Test Anxiety

A few ways that you can prevent your anxiety from controlling your academic performance.

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One of the most common forms of anxiety for students in both college and high school is test-taking anxiety. Most students will agree that they have experienced anxiety before, during, or after taking a test. For some students, they may experience intense anxiety which can present itself through panic attacks, fainting, sweating, or feeling sick. For any student who is experiencing extreme anxiety, you should consider either seeing a counselor or, if you're in college, going to student disability services to be diagnosed for test anxiety.

However, there are a few strategies you can use to eliminate test anxiety if it isn't too extreme. Here are 10 different strategies that you can use to help eliminate your test anxiety.

1. Try exercising beforehand

Exercise

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Many students don't realize how helpful exercise can be for eliminating stress. I actually tried exercising for 30 minutes a few hours before taking my test, and it did appear to alleviate some of my stress. So if you have the time, try going on a quick walk outside before taking your exam.

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Healthy Food

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Generally, you should avoid any foods that are fatty or contain any sugar before taking your test. Food that is high in fat or sugar can increase anxiety. This also applies to caffeine or sugary beverages. According to the Test Prep Review, the best foods to eat before an exam are light high-protein meals such as toast with peanut butter, tuna, chicken breast, or others. Anything with nuts or eggs will also have pack tons of protein, which can help give you energy before an exam.

3. Take a moment to stop and breathe

Meditate

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This is one of the most important things to consider when managing test anxiety. Often when you start feeling anxiety during a test, you forget to breathe. This can cause your heart rate to speed up, which then causes you to panic. Whether you're in the middle of answering a question or not, stop for one moment and close your eyes. Then slowly breathe in, count to seven, and then breathe out counting to seven. Continue doing this until you feel calm. This will help not only slow down your heart rate, but it will also help eliminate any anxiety.

4. Make sure to study enough beforehand

Studying

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If you don't prepare beforehand for the test, you're likely going to increase the chances of getting anxiety while taking it. Make sure to plan to study for the test in advance! What I tend to do is study at least a week in advance or more depending on how difficult the content may be. The more prepared you are for the test, the more confident you will be while taking it!

5. Get to class early

Class

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Try to get to class early for the exam. Getting to your class early will allow you time to try to focus on relaxing before the test. It's also extremely helpful with being able to talk to any other students. You can also talk with your professor if they show up early for class, ask questions, or express any concerns. Generally, getting to class early before a test is a perfect strategy to use for combating test-taking anxiety!

6. Stop negative thoughts

Positive

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The biggest part of test anxiety is that you fill yourself with negative thoughts that are centered around the test. You may think "I can't do this," or "I'm going to fail." Don't allow negative thoughts to take control of your mindset! Instead, replace the negative thoughts with positive thoughts so that you can change your attitude about your performance on the test.

7. Don't obsess over the time

Time

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The worst thing that you can do is start obsessing over how much time you have left on the exam. This is something that I often find myself doing, especially if I'm taking a timed test. You should still check the time periodically, but don't obsess over keeping track of how much time you have. This can lead to you running out of time since you won't be able to complete any of the questions on your exam. Instead, take a deep breath and focus on completing the questions, skipping the ones that you aren't sure about, and coming back to any questions that you skipped.

8. Focus on guided imagery

Ocean

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What always helps with my anxiety is picturing myself somewhere where I feel the most relaxed. It's good to take a moment before the test to picture yourself somewhere else such as the beach, coffee shop, or at a vacation spot. As long as it's somewhere that relaxes you the most, it will help eliminate any anxiety.

9. Talk to your professor

Professor

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If all else fails, try to talk to your professor. Tell them about your anxiety. They may offer advice or accommodations if you're anxiety isn't severe enough to be diagnosed by a counselor or student disability services.

10. Don't let your grade define you

Test

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Lastly but most importantly, never let your performance on the test define who you are as a person! Test anxiety can relate to judgment over your performance on a test defining who you are as a person. You should never let a test score measure your capability! Before you go to take a test, remind yourself that it is just a test and that your entire future is not completely dependent on it. Even if you fail the test or fail a class, there are still other ways that you can work around the obstacle such as retake the class, find a tutor, or talk to the professor.

If you begin to feel like your test anxiety is starting to take a toll on your performance in your classes, try these strategies to help manage it. I have always struggled with test anxiety, and it really can make things seem harder in college. Following these strategies can help lessen or eliminate your test anxiety, which can help lead to a more successful college experience!

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