Oh Hey There!
I’m so glad you decided to read today’s post because this one has an especially important message. Today we are going to be talking about anxiety.
I know, scary stuff right?? I’m not gonna lie – just writing about anxiety is making me anxious. What if people don’t like this post? What if this is too serious? What if I’m putting myself out there too much? What if I get hurt?
Sound familiar? For most people on this planet it probably does. Anxiety is a very common emotion and for some it can be debilitating.
I want to talk about anxiety today because I don’t think enough people recognize just how prevalent it really is.
Anxiety is Everywhere. Literally.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness affecting Canadians and Americans (Source). 1 in 4 Canadians will have anxiety at some point in their lifetime, and only 1/3 of those will actually receive treatment for their suffering (Source). That is CRAZY!! 1 in 4 Canadians means there is at least one person in your close group of friends who also experiences anxiety. However, I am willing to bet that the actual rates are much higher and here’s why:
You don’t have to have a diagnosis to experience anxiety and for it it have an impact on your life.
Here’s a list of some of the characteristics of anxiety that I pulled from wikipedia. Keep track of how many you experience on a daily, monthly or occasional basis and the severity of each on a scale from 1-10:
- An unpleasant state of inner turmoil
- Nervous behaviour such as pacing back and forth, feeling of butterflies in your stomach, and rumination
- Unpleasant dread over anticipated events/the expectation of future threats
- Feelings of uneasiness and worry
- Overreaction to situations that are only subjectively seen as menacing
- Any of these feelings accompanied with muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating
David Barlow defines anxiety as “a future-oriented mood state in which one is not ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events,” (source)
Note the difference between anxiety and fear: fear is an appropriate cognitive and emotional reaction to an actual threat whereas anxiety occurs in response to perceived uncontrollable situations or threats that are unrealistic or irrational.
So now that we know what anxiety is and some of the characteristics that are associated with it, how many of you experience some or all of these feelings to some degree on a regular basis?
I know I do.
And sometimes I don’t want to leave the house because of it.
- Sometimes I can’t figure out what to wear to an event so I end up putting my pyjamas back on and staying home. Why? Was it really because I didn’t have any clothes to wear? (doubtful – I can hear Mike’s eyes rolling back in his head as I type this). No, it was likely because I was self conscious of the way I looked or I was afraid I wasn’t going to impress someone.
- Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because I’m so worried about the patients I have to see the next day. Thoughts like “What if I do something wrong?” or “What if they expect more from me?” cross my mind until 1 or 2am.
- Sometimes I can’t sleep because I’m worried I’m not going to get enough sleep? Yeah… that’s a cycle you definitely don’t want to get into.
- Sometimes I don’t exercise at my gym because I’m worried what my coworkers are going to think of my exercises, form, etc.
- Sometimes I don’t call my friends and text instead because I’m worried I will say something stupid and can’t erase it.
- Sometimes I don’t call my family because I am afraid what they are going to think of my decisions, career paths, actions, etc.
- Sometimes I can’t choose what to eat because I’m afraid of what’s in it or what someone might say if they saw me eating it?
- Sometimes I can’t make any decision at all (big or small) because I am so worried about what might happen if I chose the other one…
I could go on forever but the point here is that anxiety comes in many forms and can range from having little to no effect on your life, to having major implications where it can affect the quality of you life.
After reading these points above I realize that they all sound pretty irrational from an outsider. But maybe you can relate to some of them? If these things sound familiar to you too don’t worry, you’re normal. However, suffering from anxiety does not have to be your normal and it really shouldn’t be.
You have a choice.
Below I’ve outlined some things that have really helped me with my anxiety so far and I hope they can help you too. <3
The # 1 thing to take away from this is to know that:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I, like so many others I’ve met, suffer from some form of anxiety. Just knowing that you aren’t alone can be extremely helpful in coping with the feeling.
This is not necessarily going to mask the feeling of anxiety, but knowing that others around might be experiencing the same thing tends to put your mind at ease. You can start to take the pressure off yourself to impress others once you realize everyone’s in the same boat and it really isn’t a competition – at least not a competition anyone truly wants to be in.
START TALKING ABOUT IT.
Mental health has been such a taboo subject for the last few decades and look at how far that’s gotten us?? Yeah, we actually got worse at dealing with it.
In order to deal with stuff we need to face it head on, not sweep it under the rug. And what better way to make this process easier than to open up to a close friend or family member about it. You’d be surprised to hear that they might actually be dealing with the same thing.
Even if they aren’t, if they are a true friend (you know the kind you actually want to be around) they will support you and help you out in any way they can to make you feel more comfortable in situations.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Opening up to people and asking for their help can foster stronger relationships and help you deal with your anxiety.
I know when I opened up about the anxiety issues I was facing, so many people around me responded expressing the exact same feeling! I was blown away. Now I feel so much more comfortable and can actually be myself knowing we all aren’t out to get each other.
START DOING MORE AND THINKING LESS
I know, I know, this one is terrible because it’s way easier said than done. But I wouldn’t write it if it weren’t true.
The mind is a powerful tool. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. By starting to actually do things that [scare] you or put you out of your comfort zone the more you will be able to do.
are the ones
So try something even if it scares you. Bring a friend along for support if you need to. But once you try it, you will be so impressed! Check out my post about 7 Ways To Change Your Life to get some more ideas!
START MEDITATING REGULARLY
Yup. I’m driving this point home again. Meditation has helped me sooo much on my road to recovery with anxiety and whole slew of other issues I’ve faced.
I’ve been meditating regularly now for about 8 months and I’ve noticed significant changes with my ability to respond to situations. It’s really changed my perspective, recognizing which areas of my life are uncontrollable and which ones are. I’ve learned how to let go and start to expect the best out of situations rather than the worst.
And guess what?
What you expect usually ends up happening. So expect good things. 🙂
Check out my post on meditation to learn about how I started meditating and what impacts its had on my life so far.
SEEK HELP SOONER RATHER THAN LATER
Wether that help is from a friend, professional or intervention tool, just don’t wait.
The longer you wait, the longer you live your life in unhappiness and worry.
At the end of the day, what’s the most important thing to you? If it’s to live a happy and fulfilled life, then it’s up to you to take the steps necessary to make the changes towards improving your wellbeing.
Because guess what? No one is going to do it for you.
I know that’s harsh but my intention here is to help you live your best life and sometimes that means being blunt and saying things you don’t necessarily want to hear.
But that is how we grow and become better versions of ourselves.
Please don’t take my advice as professional advice as I am not a trained mental health practitioner. These opinions are my own and I am only sharing them with you in hopes that you will be able to relate and find this advice helpful.
As always, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, stories or advice you would like to share.