My most recent Instagram post inspired me to chat anxiety on a greater scale. I honestly thought about doing an Insta Story (let me know if you like those?) but after doing a run-through on my end, it would be way too long for anyone’s liking. Anxiety can be complicated like that. In this post, I’ll do an overview of anxiety, share my anxiety story and list a few ways I combat anxiousness naturally.
According to the Mayo Clinic, experiencing some form of anxiety or worry is a normal part of life. At some point, we’ve all felt anxiousness or worry towards (pick one): money, work, love or health. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently or continuously experience persistent worry or fear in every day situations. For some, the intense anxiety leads to panic attacks. These feelings of panic can interfere with daily activities. You may even avoid certain places or situations to prevent anxiousness or panic attacks. According to Mayo Clinic, examples of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias and separation anxiety disorder. It is also not uncommon for someone to have more than one anxiety disorder.
My Anxiety Story
Here is where things get complicated. And I say that because anxiety is something that I’ve personally fought since I can remember. For me, I think it came to fruition when I was in middle school (although, I am quite sure I dealt with it way before then). I was in the 7th grade trying to establish myself, make new friends and snag a boyfriend all at the same time. It was already an uncomfortable situation for me because it was outside of my comfort zone. Long story short, I fell victim to rumors and a legit bully situation that majorly intensified my internal perspective of social situations. So what maybe started out as general anxiety disorder, segued additionally to social anxiety. Lucky for me, middle school was only two years and the high school transition was much easier for me. In high school, competitive sports really benefited me. I had my core group of friends but additionally had sport to connect with likeminded women on a greater scale in a small team atmosphere. (While other friends have come and gone, my teammate friends are some of the people I still stay in touch with today.)
College is when I like to say that anxiety got the best of me. Freshman year was really hard. I had decided not to pursue sport so that I could focus on my schooling, join a sorority and live that dorm life. It seemed like a really mature decision at the time. Sport had previously taken up all of my spare time and it wasn’t easy to focus on school work because of my anemia. Some nights, I’d have volleyball practice after school and then maybe a late indoor soccer game so by the time homework came around, I was totally exhausted. So I set out to have that “typical” college experience and was totally stoked about it. That is, until I discovered how going through “rush” felt. I understand the process, but really for someone with social anxiety, it is most definitely not an easy process to have hundreds of women judging your worth. Anyhow, I joined a sorority and because my previous grades were one of the reasons recruitment was hard for me, I was determined to focus on school and show my true potential. This is where my competitive spirit now shined. I did get those good grades I so badly wanted. But with that came “test anxiety” which is something I had never previously experienced. I was putting so much pressure on my grades, that testing (a large portion of your grade) became overwhelming to me.
Obviously, as time went on I established a bit of a routine, got to know my surroundings, found a solid friend group and things got much easier. In the relationship department however, I most likely always had a boyfriend but let’s just say I didn’t always choose the most healthy situations. Some of these were long-term situations that I did not have the courage or confidence to exit. About this time, I decided to seek help and see a psychiatrist. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good ones out there but for me, my experience was not the best. Medication was thrown my direction – a few different kinds actually and I just didn’t like how it made me feel. Let me be clear, I am not anti-medication. In this scenario, it just wasn’t for me. I didn’t like that it was the only approach or answer to mask my symptoms.
Journalism was always my obvious major choice. Psychology however, was my additional major that sort of happened by accident. I fell in love with mental health and wanted to learn more on the subject. It came easy to me partially because I resonated with some of the content. I was even a Teachers Assistant for my Abnormal Psychology class. This professor in particular will always hold a special place in my heart because at that moment, I decided to take a more natural approach to my anxiety. At the time, he was conducting a study called Therapeutic Lifestyle Change, which was a newer approach to easing depression without drugs. From there, Dr. Illardi wrote a book on the subject, which you can purchase on Amazon here. This lead me to doing my own research and applying similar lifestyle changes to my own life to ease and control my anxiety.
While today I still deal with anxiety to some degree. It now takes the backseat. For me, it has always been internal. It was never something that an outsider would notice or even pick up on. On the outside, I appear calm, laid back and chill. Which at my core, is totally my personality. Now days, I mindfully practice the below to offset my symptoms.
How I Combat Anxiety
- Plenty of sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Eating simple foods that are good for me and that are anti-inflammatory
- Avoiding caffein & alcohol
- Expanding my knowledge on the subject by reading books and applying those finding to my lifestyle changes
- Surrounding myself with the best support group (friends, family and spouse)
- Nature and Vitamin D (sunshine)
- Yoga + mediation (me time)
- Herbs, Supplements & Essential Oils: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Ashwagandha, Collagen Peptides, calming teas (camomille/lavender), soothing essential oil blends
Additionally, it helps to avoid triggers. For example, a cluttered messy home and work space tends to wig me out so I try to keep my living spaces organized and clean. However, this rule doesn’t always apply. I mentioned that I have social anxiety above. If I avoided this trigger, I’d be isolated. This is especially true as I am living in a new city and trying to make new friends and choose my next career path. These are growth opportunities. It is all about conquering the fear, habituating to the “new” situation and feeling stronger + accomplished on the other side.
Got additional tips you want to share? List them below or comment on my Insta post.