Anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder… all things that were just ‘made up’ or 'in your head' when I was a kid. If they were talked about at all, they seemed to be dismissed as someone just trying to use those terms as an excuse for their misdoings, failures, or general negative behavior. Feeling stressed or sad for extended periods of time for no reason wasn’t a mental health problem… it was an attitude problem and something you needed to “get over”.
But did you know:
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
18.1% (42 million) of American adults live with anxiety disorders.
As I’ve gotten older, this world of mental health is something I’ve become extremely interested in. More and more friends have become comfortable talking about their anxiety and depression. I realized this stigma of being ashamed by mental struggles was a toxic, living thing that caused shame (or silence) for those who needed help.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized my own anxiety was having really negative effects on my life. I would obsess and stress over things to the point I would make myself literally sick to my stomach. I would rehearse future conversations or replay previous conversations over and over in my head to dissect every angle to make sure I didn’t say anything that might have been weird, offensive, or misconstrued. I would pick at my fingernails and cuticles until the bled. I got to the point where I thought the only way to manage my anxiety was to get on medication.
For me, this wasn’t an option I was comfortable with. I am 100% supportive of people who need this medication, but I was confident this wasn't the right choice for me and there were other things I could do. So, I started researching. I read and listened to anything I could find that could give me some guidance. Then, I put those things into practice and it has completely changed my life.
Find your triggers or the root of your anxiety. Could your anxiety be related to health issues, poor diet, financial concerns, social events, conflict, etc.? Just knowing where my anxiety came from was a HUGE thing for me.
Learn to Say NO - if it’s not good for your mental or physical well-being, say no. You don’t need an excuse or permission. Just say no!
Fluff your feed - Social media can be toxic. But it can also be a really fun, inspiring place! If seeing the super-fit seemingly perfect Mom with the perfect life and perfect little pod children are making you feel worse about yourself, unfollow. If liking and following a bunch of boutiques or companies always selling you stuff and it’s hurting your financial health, unfollow. Cut out the BS and seek out the people who make you happy! Follow your favorite authors, look up accounts related to your hobbies, find inspiring people and spend your time fluffing your feed with awesomeness.
Be still (and silent) - You’d be surprised how much being quiet or meditating for 10 minutes a day can help.
Express gratitude - Think of 5-10 things your grateful and write them down every single day.
Dance it out - put on some tunes and shake it alllll out. Don’t worry about looking cool or having the right moves. Just DANCE. IT. OUT.
Exercise - 30 minutes a day. No excuses.
Listen to this Goop Podcast - The Anxious Mind Episode was such a great listen! As a super empathetic person who tends to feel every emotion out there, it can be hard to not feel anxious about what is or isn’t “going right” in life.
Let it go. - Get out of your head and try not to dwell. Take a BIG BREATH, and let it go.
If you're out there struggling, get help! Make a change. You deserve more than settling to be anxious, stress, or unhappy. Find what works for you and make your mental health your #1 priority. If you need to talk with a professional, do it! There are options out there with or without medical insurance.