Sometimes I’ll be sitting at a stop light and my heart will start to race and I’ll feel this tingling in my body and I’ll get hot and then my brain recognizes that it’s anxiety and I’ll want to do anything to get out of sitting at that stop light. This has been happening more and more lately. Everything could be fine one moment and I’ll be jamming out to a song in the car and then the next, I’ll be absolutely terrified and want to turn around and go home.
This is anxiety. This is a small sliver of what anxiety looks like for me every day. Some days are good, some days are so bad that I have to have someone in the car with me. I never use to have any issues driving. I could drive to Utah or over the Colorado Rockies alone and be just fine. But how in my early thirties, I can only drive on familiar roads and in neighborhoods.
It’s not about the driving. Anxiety is never about the actual thing you are doing. Anxiety is about the feelings of lack of control. When our fight or flight sensation kicks in, it’s all due to whether or not we can get ourselves out of the situation and get ourselves to safety. When we are truly in danger our fight or flight can be a lifesaver, but during every day tasks, it can be our biggest opponent.
I like to think of anxiety like a game. Today, will I beat the game or lose the game? For example, when I’m sitting at a stop light and those feeling’s of anxiousness take over, will I let them take control of me and force myself to pull over and go home? Or will I take a minute, take a long deep breath, think a positive thought and keep going? I always chose the second one because letting my anxiety control me is not an option.
It’s never an option.
There are other situations that send my anxiety into overdrive and those things I avoid to keep my sacred mental space safe. Packed movie theaters that are small, crowded places like bars and clubs, and the mall on a weekend. I prefer quiet places where the walls don’t reverberate and rattle. Brick building’s and hair salons also send me into overdrive. How I was a blonde for all of those years still get’s me, although my stylist use to have a private salon and that was much better and at that time my anxiety wasn’t really an issue. Fast forward to today though and it takes me weeks and a ton of mental prep to make and endure a hair appointment because most hair salons today are overly saturated and they pack way too many people into one space to make the most amount of profit. If I could have my stylist come to my house, I would. And those are just some thing people with anxiety have to do. My hair desperately needs a refresh so hopefully I’ll get the courage to make an appointment soon.
Things that have helped me when my anxiety is at an all time high. Food prep. Making sure I eat and keep my hormone levels in balance. Food prep is amazing because is really therapeutic. It’s a mindless task that I can do over and over again and it has a very calming affect. Also, food prep is essential to maintaining a routine and I like routine. I thrive on it. My best advice is make a recipe plan for the week and pick a day that you have free that you can meal prep on and don’t let anything get in the way of your meal prep day. If it’s on the schedule, keep that appointment with yourself just like you would keep any other appointment.
Opt outside. Running every day is monumental for me. And now running with two dogs takes it next level. I notice a huge difference in my mental attitude and mood when I miss a run. I’m super moody, reactive, and my anxiety is at an all time high on the days I don’t run. Now, a person can’t run every single day. It’s not healthy or realistic. On the days where I don’t run or one isn’t scheduled, I make sure to get a weight-lifting workout in or a nice yoga session. Just as long as I’m moving, I can usually keep those feelings at bay. Running though is what works best for me. Find an activity you love outdoors and stick to that routine. Getting outside in nature is healing to our souls and helps clear the mental clutter out of our minds. These two things together help keep anxiety at bay.
Therapy. Oh my, it took me two years to find the right therapist, but I finally did and she’s helped me come so far. The biggest thing I’ve learned from her is that anxiety attacks are temporary. They are not a life sentence. Very often, I get this immense fear that I will get an ocular migraine in public and I’ll black out. For me, this is a very real and terrifying fear that can hinder me from going places alone. I use to go everywhere alone. I was an independent chic to the fullest and I preferred it that way. Now, Roxy, my ride or die and my emotional support dog goes everywhere with me. And I usually have someone who drives me to therapy, because I have to go over an overpass and a freeway to get there and these days those are non-negotiables. I know that I’m lucky to have a support system who can help me with these driving issues, that privilege is not lost on me. Therapy is everything and without it, I’m not sure I could even leave my house. I pay for my therapy though my insurance, and there are many local low-cost programs who can help you get the help you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Check out local community boards for local therapy info and you can also go to Psychologytoday.com and search for therapists in your area. You can search by services needed, male or female, and so on. Many of the therapists listed can do an affordable payment with you and/or can refer you to someone who can help. Don’t give up hope!
I do not take any medication for my anxiety for many personal reasons, but I do use essential oils daily. Right now, my favorites for anxiety are EO roller balls that I pick up a CVS. I always buy the lavender blend and I roll it over my forehead, my nose, and my clavicle before I drive. I keep one on my purse as well and take it out anytime I’m in a crowded area or in a large store, like Costco. The scent of lavender has been proven to have calming affects and many times scents go along with our feelings and a familiar scent can instantly calm us down. Lavender is what works for me. EO’s can be expensive, I like this brand because it’s affordable and works for me.
Keep an organized house. Cleaning helps ten-fold. When you feel anxious, get up and do something productive. You’ll instantly feel relieved and you will be able to come back faster each time you have an anxiety attack or experience anxious feelings. I often change up my house because that’s my jam. I come up with DIY projects to work on my in my house. I love learning how to do new stuff and hammering walls and building stuff is super therapeutic. I also love the feeling like I’ve accomplished something. Getting stuff done and checking stuff off my list is my jam and I find pure joy in doing all the things. Studies have proven that keeping a clean house outputs a clear mind and I truly believe that. Now, if only I could stop procrastinating on cleaning out my pantry….
I hope these tips help you. Email me, DM me, comment below and tell me what helps YOU. I want to know. Mental health is vital to our well-being and mental illness is such a taboo subject and there is no reason for it. We need to be talking about this pertinent subject.
Don’t be shy, reach out. Message me. Let’s keep this conversation going.
I hope these tips help you. I’m off to go photograph my first DIY blog piece and prep for therapy.
Until next time lovers.