Being in a constant state of worry can wreak havoc in all areas of your life.
For me, when the alarm went off, my heart would sink. My mind was racing, my hands always shaking. I’d avoid all social occasions because I didn’t want anyone to see me.
It was official; anxiety was running my life.
Unfortunately, I was the last person to find out! I’d heard of anxiety before but didn’t really know what it was or how it showed up.
I didn’t know it can creep up on you, stop you sleeping, create tense muscles and migraines, change your appetite and gut microbiome or cause your hair to fall out…
I found out the hard way. It felt like I was losing myself.
So I made some changes for the better, starting with these:
1. Exercise first thing
I’ve never been a morning person but moving my body before getting into things felt like it gave me back energy, leaving me feeling more positive throughout the day. Thank youuu endorphins!
Try biking to work, getting off the bus a few stops early for a brisk walk, or my favourite – a hot yoga class.
2. Notice the ‘in between time’
Those moments when you’re in between the ‘doing’. Travelling on a bus, waiting in line, heating up food… taking these times to anchor myself in the present moment by focusing on where I am physically, instead of racing off somewhere else in my head. As yourself “How does my body feel?”, “What can I see, hear and smell right now?”
Try it next time you’re waiting for the kettle to boil and looking around at what else you can do to be ‘productive’, try stopping and listen to the water heat up.
3. Reduce stimulants
My body was already pumped with adrenalin from all the worrying, (when we’re stressed, out bodies create more cortisol hormone, so we can be ready to fight or take flight. Learn more here) I cut back on caffeine, alcohol, sugar and scrolling Instagram late at night. Note that I say cut back, and not cut out! This helped bring my body’s natural rhythms back so I wasn’t having to continuously reach for something to numb my anxious feelings (ironically, these stimulants were making me more anxious, lose more sleep and fall faster down a spiral!)
You might be a ‘cold turkey’ kinda gal, or it might work better for you to slowly reduce by having one less coffee a day and see where your balance is. Try a more mindful approach to what you’re consuming.
4. Cut down on ‘noise’
From the moment we wake up, we’re flooded with the demand of others, be it notifications, emails, DM’s, traffic, schedules – I mean, when was the last time you ate lunch without looking at your phone?
With my head so busy and loud, I worked to curate what I could control – things like the media I was consuming, or the time when I replied to emails (ie. not in bed or as soon as I wake up!) I focused on what felt good.
5. Celebrate the small wins
Good and bad things are always happening. Alongside cutting the ‘noise’, I chose to focus on what I wanted to see more of, by writing down 3 positive things that happened to me at the end of each day. Our brains just want to solve a problem constantly, and over time, this exercise made my brain look for more good things naturally.
I can’t help others or change the world if I’m in a panicked, anxious state.
Of course, I’m writing this from a place of privilege, and there are so many heavy, negative things happening all the time in this world, not to mention systemic and societal structures. However, I’m also aware that I can’t help others or change the world if I’m in a panicked, anxious state.
There is no quick-fix and everyone’s experience is different.
Start with one thing – what change resonates with you?