I can pinpoint the exact moment I remember first ever experiencing anxiety.
I was 10 years old.
My family was dealing with some particularly challenging circumstances at the time. I remember sitting at the kitchen table eating Fruit Loops, awaiting my brother’s arrival. I knew once he got home, there would be tension that followed, and the anticipation consumed me.
Suddenly, I pushed my half eaten cereal bowl away from me. I completely lost my appetite and felt sick to my stomach. I could feel everyone’s energy around me, and all those feelings seeped into me. The anticipation and tension heightened my fears, making me feel anxious and causing me to have a million thoughts running through my head.
Heart racing, stomach in knots, completely silent, mind moving a mile a minute. Fast forward 14 years later and while my cereal preferences have changed, the anxiety remains.
Anxiety is something I’ve come to loathe, recognize and handle the best way I can. There are days when I feel constantly split in half with how my mind operates. Half of it is filled with positivity and faith, while the other half can be filled with negativity and fear. Some days I feel like I have everything under control, and other days I feel like it's controlling me.
It is in the times of negativity and fear that I can feel my mind start to obsess and overthink. I can overthink a situation, comment or problem to death, letting the fear paralyze me and creating problems that weren’t even there in the beginning.
As much as I wish there was an off switch when this is happening, I have to be my own off switch.
As much as I wish I could never deal with these feelings again, this is life.
The only thing we can predict is how unpredictable life is, and for someone who loves to be able to plan and control what’s going to happen, you can see how this could be a problem.
Anxiety has given me an awareness of just how powerful our minds are. In a second, I can overthink myself into a state of fear and insecurity. OR- I can choose to let the other side reign. The side filled with reasoning, stillness and trust.
Through support, information and honest conversations, I've learned ways to manage my anxiety when it flares up. Knowledge is your best friend, and having tools to implement in your daily life on how to cope with anxiety can be so beneficial. Recognizing there's a problem only leads to finding more solutions.
A simple practice I implement if I’m ever feeling anxious is to try and shift from a place of fear to a place of gratitude. My mom always tells me to “change the channel” whenever my mind starts to race.
I take a deep breath (or several) and remind myself how blessed I am and focus on the positive. It’s so easy to focus on the negative and look at the glass half empty. I acknowledge everyday things I’m grateful for and how lucky I am. I shift my focus on that because there is SO much to be thankful for.
I also try and ground myself and truly be in the moment. Instead of worrying about the past or trying to predict the future, I focus on what is in front of me. I have come to recognize when my mind is being rational vs. irrational. There have been times I have gotten worked up over the fear of a situation that never even ended up happening, which wasted both precious time and energy.
To combat my desire to control, I instead try to just “let go and let things flow.”
As much as I would love to try and control and predict, I can’t.
Instead, I actively and daily try to give any worries or anxieties I have to God and just pray. "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything." Prayer has been something that has helped me relinquish control and be able to release by giving it to God.
It’s comforting knowing that there is a higher power in this world looking over me and continually guiding me, whether I can see it or not.
I am not in control, and that is both terrifying and liberating.
I've learned perspective is everything, and I remind myself these feelings are temporary and WILL shift. Yes, there will be hard times and tribulations, but “this too shall pass.”
I remember once being at work, looking at the people around me who looked so at ease when I was feeling so anxious at the time and thinking, “Wow, it must be so nice not to have to deal with anxiety.”
I later realized how wrong I was to come to that conclusion.
You can't compare yourself to others because no one knows whats going on behind the scenes.
Anxiety is something that is deep within you that others may not even know you’re experiencing or struggling with. This world paints a false picture that everyone has to look and feel perfect all the time when you truly have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.
Everyone deals with some forms or feelings of anxiety at some point, which makes me now look at everyone in a different light. I try and always remember “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about."