This week I want to focus on some coping mechanisms I use that have brought me tremendous healing since August and tools I use on a day-to day basis depending on how I am feeling. The reason why I felt compelled to write about this is because last week I was approached by two dear friends who are struggling with anxiety in their daily lives. Each described their fears, whether it is driving on a busy highway, sitting in a movie theater, enjoying a kid’s soccer game, or just social anxiety in general. The common thread for me between the conversations was compelling. These are two healthy women who have wonderful lives, people who love them and support them, and who have nothing to be afraid of; yet they are living in fear.
What I have learned in my healing process is that anxiety is created when there is an imbalance with our neurotransmitters, which is something we can correct over time with the proper guidance and doctor. It can be perpetuated by the things we consume, whether dietary or environmental. And furthermore, anxiety exists in our lives because we give it energy and permission to do so through our actions and inaction. Now that I know this it’s easier for me to get through my anxious times but if you don’t have these tools, anxiety can cripple you to the point where you can’t find hope in anything.
I think the greatest piece of advice that I have received from each of my therapists and doctors has been to be gentle with myself. Whether I was trying to find the cure to my sleepless nights, appetite loss, anxiety, or depression – I was to be gentle with myself. This isn’t an easy thing to do and I had to make some difficult decisions in order to claim some peace.
Over the past 6 months, my focus shifted to the things I could control in my world and less about what was happening outside of that and slowly my mindset changed. For example, the world news was responsible for my trigger in July. So I don’t watch the news anymore and haven’t since, I don’t scroll the Facebook news feed, and I don’t watch violent shows or movies that could re-trigger me. Wow did this bring me peace! During a time in our history when the world has been so chaotic, I have been focused 100% on what happens within the walls of my own home.
Being gentle with myself has included eliminating alcohol, caffeine, most social media, and toxic relationships; and on the flip-side it has included doing more of the things I love like sewing with my aunts, taking baths, really playing with my treasures, focusing on the health of the relationships that matter to me, praying and meditating, and building this positive resource for others. Staying grounded has become my priority, not my social calendar.
I am not advising you make all of these changes overnight but I am encouraging you to examine what changes you can make that will create a small impact on your life right now. How can you honor yourself better? How can you show yourself true love? How can you be gentler with yourself?
Below is a link to a guide my therapist shared with me that includes some great tools for coping with anxiety. I hope you find it useful and share it with your loved ones who need it today.