Towards the end of high school and the beginning of college, I began to struggle with anxiety and experienced panic attacks fairly regularly. I had no idea how to handle or maintain them, and had chalked it up to something that was wrong with me and I just needed to figure out how to deal with it. As you can imagine, it drastically affected certain areas of my social life and what I was and was not comfortable with going out and doing on any given day. It also brought about major self-doubt and self-consciousness.
When I met Cameron, he jumped right into the middle of it all. He was incredible at recognizing when I felt overwhelmed and anxious without me even needing to say anything. He helped me transition and adjust certain areas of my lifestyle and routines, encouraging me to not only be nice to myself and not beat myself down, but to take it step by step, day by day. As I got older and after we got married, I began to recognize and learn what triggered my anxiety, from which I was then able to be more aware and conscious of my mindset and approach, as well as the situations I put myself in.
I have an extremely busy mind and a very small social battery, which makes large gatherings and get-togethers a bit of a struggle. Most of my anxiety is sparked by feeling trapped or stuck, or when I get to the point where I’m on major sensory overload. So, naturally, I also struggle with some claustrophobia, and don’t do super well with airplanes, driving in the rain, and long periods of loud noises or large crowds – eventually, y’all… my mind is just done and my body is exhausted. Even when I’m not anxious, my mind runs a million miles a minute, making falling asleep difficult and a lot of my days fairly overwhelming.
When I started to really learn and become passionate about taking care of myself physically, mentally and spiritually, I began to implement a lot of activities that cater to those areas of my health into my routines. Oh my lanta… it has been life-changing. I’ve really become passionate about listening to my body and giving it what it needs in the most natural and healthy ways possible, especially in regards to anxiety and stress. (If you missed my last post, you have some catching up to do! You can check it out HERE!) Once I started to see how taking care of myself not only helped my physical health, but my mental health as well, I was able to start and enjoy making changes to help the overall wellness of my mind, body and spirit.
I want to share the 5 biggest ways that I’ve learned to love myself through anxiety, because, honestly, I wish I had had someone on the other end giving me suggestions of ways to approach dealing with it! Just a quick disclaimer – these are things that I love to do and that work for ME. They can look differently for everyone. You’ll notice that most of mine are very independent, because that’s what I need and am comfortable with. Also, I am obviously not a professional in the slightest, so… don’t quote me. *lols*
Take Time to Chill
A lot of people struggle immensely with taking time to disconnect and chill. I am, fortunately/unfortunately, not one of those people. I love me some good chill time, and most of the time when I’m stressed or anxious, that’s just what I need. No time schedules, no checklists, no work. I put on some comfy clothes, throw my hair up in a bun, run through my skincare routine, and relax. I love to use this time to hang out at home and get off of social media and my phone. I’ll put on one of my chill Spotify playlists, read/listen to a good book (one that doesn’t involve much thinking), take a bath, watch a movie or YouTube, color in my adult coloring books (yeah I do!) or do some calligraphy in my Bible or journal. I am also obsessed with diffusing calming oils in our bedroom (because… lavender), and have seen a drastic difference in my sleep every night since becoming consistent with it.
Be Kind to Yourself
As I mentioned, I used to beat myself up if I had a panic attack – it was my fault; there was something wrong with me. But, sweet friend, there is nothing wrong with you! Yes, I believe in handing your troubles and worries over to the Lord, and the Bible clearly states that we should not be anxious. But I also know what it feels like to believe that, be in a deep, strong relationship with Him and still struggle. Talking down to yourself definitely doesn’t help anything. In fact, I’ve found that it actually does the opposite. If you are someone who worries a lot, tearing yourself down in the midst of stress or anxiety just makes you feel worse than you already do. You’re just contributing to the attacks on your spirit. Speak kindly to yourself, lift yourself up and give yourself some grace. Always remember that you are special, you are loved, you are strong, and you are a warrior for the Kingdom of Heaven. There’s so much power in that!
Do Something You Love
When I’m feeling anxious, I need normalcy. So, oftentimes, the route I choose to take leans more towards doing something that I love to do and am familiar with. One of my favorite things to do is a good ol’ pamper sesh. It’s relaxing, enjoyable and familiar all at the same time, and they are, by far, one of my favorite things to do, even if it’s not a stressful day. I run a hot bath, throw a little good-smelling something in there (usually a bath bomb), pop on a couple of episodes of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. or grab a good book, and just relax. I’ll do a face mask, paint my nails, diffuse some calming oils, do my more in-depth pamper skincare routine, and try to get my mind as slow and calm as possible. For me, this is not only calming and relaxing, but it’s one of my favorite ways to give my mind and body some TLC. Doing something you love to do lifts and brightens your spirit, taking your mind off of everything else around you. For you, this may be working out, painting, meditating, baking, or even hanging out with friends. Whatever you love to do, do it and have a blast!
Know the Truth
One of the biggest things I’ve learned in dealing with my anxiety is that knowing the Truth is absolutely your greatest weapon, especially when you’re not at home or in a place where you can fully relax. I’m a firm believer that anxiety, or even just the feeling of being overwhelmed, is a direct attack from the enemy, so knowing the Truth is key. Whatever that looks like to you, hold on to that. Arm yourself with Scripture and its promises. I, personally, cling to some beautiful words God spoke over me a while back. They never change. They’re strong, steady and resilient, and they keep me grounded. Whenever I’m feeling anxious, I’ll run through those words in my mind or say them out loud if I need to. They’re a sweet reminder of His love for me in the midst of the storm, and they help me always remember the truth about who I am, who I was created to be, and my purpose and value. I honestly cannot recommend a better tool or weapon to keep on-hand than this one. God can and will help you fight your battles. Use what He’s equipped and armed you with to fight against the enemy’s attacks, and believe that you are so much more than the negative, overwhelming things he is doing in your life and mind in that moment.
Listen to Your Body
I have really been pressing in to and being intentional with listening to my body lately, and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that so much of our mental health stems from our physical health, especially the health of our gut. That means that living a healthy, active lifestyle is so, so important! In the same way you listen to your body for things like sleep and dehydration, listen to your body through anxiety. Some people need to sleep and rest through the stress. Some people need to work and stay busy. You do you, boo. Seriously. Listen to your body and do some soul searching; find the interests, habits, hobbies or routines that help you the most in the times when you are struggling to keep your head above the water. No one knows you like you do. Trust that. As long as whatever you choose works for YOU, that’s all that matters! Find what your mind and body needs, and do them confidently and with endless love.
I’m praying for all of you lovelies today! Always remember that you are not alone.