Over the last few weeks, I’ve alluded to some anxiety-related issues. Before writing this, I searched through my old posts to see what I’d already written on the topic and I was surprised to see there’s not much on it.
I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember, particularly in elementary and middle school, but wasn’t able to vocalize what it was. It’s gotten worse over the last few years, but I have been actively working to ease it as best as possible.
But a few weeks ago, I was really feeling it — feeling like a panic attack could happen at any moment. Generally speaking, almost everything gives me anxiety, especially if it involves leaving my apartment. Going to the grocery, driving long distances, travel, or sometimes even going out to eat gives me anxiety.
At the beginning of the year, my aunt unexpectedly passed away and I still feel like I haven’t fully processed it. Given the nature of her passing, it only adds to my fear of dying and stress about not having enough time left on earth.
And, until last week, I’d been working 70-hour weeks since September. While I was managing it, if anyone looked around my apartment, you’d see that something wasn’t quite right… basic tasks like making coffee seemed really cumbersome and everything was in disarray.
I was feeling like I couldn’t get quality sleep, which is my warning sign. I felt like all of the stress from the last six months was piling up and I was finally, possibly, reaching my breaking point.
Many years ago, I suffered from nightmares and would wake up crying or in a sweat and it was really starting to affect my days. I started seeing a therapist and it helped. It took awhile, but the nightmares tapered down. Since then, they’ve only come back a few times and that’s how I know things are bad.
Last week was a particularly rough week, and all weekend I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and I had some serious stomach pains; all which were stress-related. This year, I told myself I would make more of an effort to go to yoga when I felt this way, but for the first time this year, I let myself stay home, hydrate, and rest. I felt much better come Monday morning.
My diet is a huge factor in my mental health, and I’ve found that maintaining a vegan diet is the best way for me to get a good night’s rest, and also avoiding alcohol. The only two panic attacks I’ve had in my life have both been after drinking.
The thing is — and I can’t speak for everyone — but when I feel stressed, I want to eat junk and have a glass of wine and skip my workout class. But that’s when I need everything the most!
This week, I am finally starting to feel better. My workload is lighter, and I spent my weekend getting some things done around my apartment so it looks back to normal and not like a tornado just ran through it.
Aside from my diet and regularly working out (five times a week is my usual), I try to meditate a few times a week. If I’m starting to feel low, I try and figure out what could lift me up, even if it’s something as simple as playing with kitty Blanche or watching my favorite TV show.
Since the start of the new year, I have made an effort to put my phone down more, because I was noticing myself mindlessly scrolling while watching TV… several minutes would go by and I wouldn’t have even realized what was on, or that Blanche left my side… so making an effort to be more present certainly lowers my anxiety.
I have also been reading more, which I feel helps my mental health as well. It’s an escape, but I’ve joined a few online book clubs which gives me a more social outlet that doesn’t interfere with my schedule or add to my anxiety.
There are always going to be things that trigger anxiety for me, but having a set list of things I can do to ease it has helped me a lot. If there are things you do when you feel anxious or stressed, I’d love to hear them!