Anxiety affects everyone at some point in our lives, whether you are worried if you’ve paid your bills on time or nervous before speaking in public. However, more constant anxious feelings could manifest in the form of disorders such as “generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Last year I started having frequent anxious feelings, I could see myself spinning out of control but could do nothing to stop it. There were times when I was on my job in a call center where I would feel my heart race and palms sweat as I dealt with difficult customers. To calm myself, I would have to leave my desk, go to the restroom or even outside for a walk. There were days where I called out of work because I could not get myself together enough to step inside the building. My anxiety soon started manifesting in other areas of my life and I got to a point where I spend my entire weekend off at home.
For me, anxiety causes unrealistic worries to cloud my judgement and make me fearful of seemingly mundane tasks, like driving downtown in traffic, going to new places alone or even going to the mall on a busy day. I would spiral out of control with negative thoughts and restrict myself to my home. I have always been one to worry. In the back of my mind would be this voice questioning my every decision, anticipating things that haven’t happened or would probably never happen. Then came the fear, those worries would sometimes manifest into full on fright that something terrible was about to happen. I began to anticipate things that would worry me and then over prepare for every situation I might be involved in. As you can imagine this worry, fear and anticipation became quite exhausting. Some days after work I would collapse on my couch and would not move until bedtime.
There came a point where I would avoid certain situations because I had already decided it would be too much for me to handle. I devised carefully crafted plans to avoid, long drives, traffic, crowded places and difficult people even if there was possibility that I would not encounter those triggers. I also battled with worries of self-doubt, it is true, that your worst critic is yourself. I would sometimes get into this dark place and decide that I was not enough, broken, incomplete and under-accomplished. Last winter I soaked myself in feelings of inadequacy. For every compliment I received I thought of 10 negative qualities I possessed.
Then one spring day, I decided to take control of my feelings. I scheduled by first therapy appointment and from there, the healing began. My therapist, a black woman, helped me to understand my feelings and gave me the tools to control my reactions. I found positive self-talk to be indispensable. With positive self-talk I am able to control the narrative playing out in my mind and remind myself that I can handle whatever is thrown at me. I then devised a self-care routine involving, positive affirmations, yoga, meditation, drinking tea and getting outside my comfort zone.
Anxiety does not have to control your life, you ultimately decide how you will react. Now when I begin to feel anxious, I rationalize my feelings, step away from the situation, take a walk or plug in to a great playlist or podcast. While I wouldn’t say that I have completely conquered anxiety, I have learned ways to take back my control and find my calm. With my self-care tools, I am able to look anxiety in the face, acknowledge those feelings and say “not today, devil”. If you battle anxiety or know someone that does, click here to download my free tried + true anxiety buster checklist.
Comment below how you deal with anxiety.