If you are like me, anxiety is a constant in your life. It’s like feeling a knot in your chest that squeezes you and makes it feel like you can’t breathe well. Simultaneously your mind goes crazy with unpleasant thoughts one after the other… it is exhausting. It takes away your energy and gets in the way of your quality of life.
Living with anxiety is real and can be a very frustrating emotion to manage. When I look back at my childhood years and my first memory managing this emotion I was about five or six years old. The anxiety was constantly there keeping me up at night. I would creep into one of my siblings’ beds or simply cry myself to sleep. I was around 12 when I experienced my first anxiety attack I remember my parents not knowing what to do with me since it was not something people would talk about in the 1970s.
Learning to live with anxiety has been my ticket to mental freedom. At first, my goal was to get anxiety free. Soon I realized that this goal was unachievable, trying to push it away was only making my uninvited guest more present.
It was when I made peace with the reality of anxiety in my life that I was able to transform it. I accepted that anxiety was part of the package that comes with my personality and part of the amazing person that I am. Anxiety is still present in my life every single day. However, it is now an energy that I have learned to tame and use it as a tool to my advantage.
It still feels uncomfortable and shows up uninvited, but as long as I keep it moderate and under control, it has become an internal compass that helps me name what’s behind it and how to manage it.
Therapy and coaching have been the key for me in managing my anxiety. In the process I have learned which practices help me in keeping it under control. Some of them are:
- TM – Meditation – Transcendental Meditation has been a game changer. This has been the best practice that I have incorporated in my life. The benefits are countless but one very clear to me was how I started to wake up in the mornings not feeling the anxiety knot in my chest.
- Breathing – this is a practice I do whenever anxiety shows up. I do the box breathing technique which goes like this; count to four while you do each of the following: breath in, hold, breath out, hold. Do this at least 5 times and your anxiety will start to calm.
- Download it – I take a piece of paper and download all my thoughts, emotions and stories behind them. This is a combination of journaling, drawing and scribbling. You can always burn or break into pieces the paper after if you fear anyone could read it.
- Talk it Out – talking with a friend, coach or therapist has been crucial for me. Most of my anxiety comes from things that do not make sense. Talking them over with someone outside my head is liberating.
- Intentional Daily routine – Try to be very intentional with your day to day. Lots of water, 8 hours of sleep, meditation, exercise and healthy eating will help to prevent anxiety to take over your life. It might sound a cliché… it is not. It works.
- Name it – Anxiety is trying to say something, dig deeper and name what’s really happening. This will give you information about yourself which will make you feel better.
There is no quick fix to anxiety and I know how frustrating it can feel. These practices are part of my life as well as going to therapy. Try them out and also share if you have other practices to share with us.
** These practices might not work for you if you are feeling too anxious. If that is the case, reach out to someone you trust and seek professional help as soon as possible, especially if you have experienced an anxiety attack.