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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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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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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