How I’m Managing Living with Anxiety

Hey Friends and I guess Happy 2021 LOL! We’re talking anxiety today.

I have not been on the blog since summer of 2020 and I have missed you all!

Last year was HARD for alot of people and blogging was another task that I just could not try to keep up with, BUT I’m BACK!

You can expect at least one blog post per week from me. Not sure of the days they will go out yet, but you will definitely see a post weekly!

So lets get to the real reason that we are hear today.

You all know that I’m very passionate about mental health and April is National Anxiety Month.

Over the past month, I have had very intense battle with anxiety. I have been talking over this with my therapist and she along with my business coach encouraged me to share with you all.

Now at first I was like NO, that is not something I wanted to share with the family, they already know I struggle at times with anxiety and depression, why do I have to tell them all this LOL? I wrote a blog post about when I was first diagnosed with having anxiety and depression here.

My goal is to always be transparent with y’all.

So around the beginning of March, anxiety began to rear its ugly and disrespectful head. The intrusive thoughts I was having at times seemed positively unbearable!

I have a condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder better known as OCD and it’s not what you think it is.

OCD is an anxiety disorder. It is NOT being extremely organized or clean, even though that can be a symptom of it.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental disorder in which people experience unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, or sensations (obsessions) and engage in behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) in response. Often a person with OCD carries out the compulsions to temporarily eliminate or reduce the impact of obsessions, and not performing them causes distress. OCD varies in severity, but if left untreated, it can limit one’s ability to function at work, school, or home.

OCD is estimated to affect more than 2 percent of U.S. adults at some point in their lives, and the problem can be accompanied by other conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders. It typically first appears in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood.

Now before someone says, “OMG I thought you were a praying and believing Woman of God”.

I am sis.

Just because I struggle with mental illness and I’m HONEST about it doesn’t make me any less of a child of God. .

If you don’t get upfront and honest with yourself and God, how can you expect Him to heal it? If you can have it, then He definitely can heal it!

Anyways, As I stated before, I have always battled with anxiety, but this past month my symptoms have been almost unbearable.

If you are not familiar with the symptoms of anxiety, some of them are as follows:

Symptoms

GAD is characterized by the DSM-5 as six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with this disorder usually experience symptoms including:

  • Inability to control excessive worrying
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Irritability
  • Easily startled or scared
  • Difficulty concentrating or the mind goes blank

Common physical symptoms include:

  • Headaches and fatigue
  • Muscle tension and aches
  • Having a hard time swallowing
  • Trembling or twitching
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness and tingling in the extremities.
  • Feeling out of breath
  • Having to go to the bathroom frequently
  • Hot flashes

For those of us that have anxiety disorders, this is what we sometimes experience and deal with, If you’re a woman and suffer from PMS or PMDD, anxiety is definitely worse in the coming weeks before your period. at least they are for me.

I’ve had to take some pretty serious evaluations over my mental health over the past couple of months. Somethings I really didn’t want to do, but I had to come to grips with where I really was and I was tired of suffering if I didn’t have to.

I typically have a pretty good handle on things, but when I felt myself spiraling, I knew I had to change somethings I was doing.

The first thing I had to do to manage anxiety was to ACCEPT where I really was and what was happening. Once I did that, then I began to work on the things you’ll see below.

Here are the ways in which I’m helping to manage anxiety.

Exercise

I’m pretty sure y’all knew that this would be on the list. Exercise for me is a game-changer. I make sure that I implement some type of movement daily. In addition to bodybuilding, weight training and cardio, I also incorporate Pilates and yoga on my low energy weeks. I know that I would be way worse if I didn’t incorporate physical activity. Exercise not only benefits your mental health, but your physical health as well. If you’re having a hard time getting started with a workout regimen, I would suggest starting out with 30 minutes of walking and build your routine from there. Be sure to also incorporate physical activities that you actually like.

Prioritize Sleep

Lissssen! Anxiety can make it very hard to get sleep. Insomnia is a real symptom of anxiety and it can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health. I have started to prepare myself a couple hours before I’m ready to go to bed. I do a few things.

  • Make sure my room is at a cool and comfortable temperature
  • Practice my shower routine or take an Epsom salt bath
  • Pray or read the Bible or a few chapters of a book
  • Turn on my diffuser and use Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Clary Sage.
  • Keep it dark in the room
  • Drink Calm Magnesium or a nighttime tea to aid with sleep.

These are just a few of the things that I do nightly to combat insomnia. Feel free to develop your own nighttime routine to help you.

Eat Healthy & Regularly

I’m not really sure why, but when you skip meals, it makes anxiety worse. I know that it can be hard to eat when you’re suffering with anxiety, but it’s one of those things that you have to force yourself to do if you want to feel better.

I have to make sure that I get three good meals in and when I may not be home and able to eat a full meal right away, I keep some healthy snacks in the console of my car. Make sure your snacks are low in sugar, because a lot of sugar can make your anxiety symptoms worse.

Take Natural Supplements/Medication

So I know this is a touchy topic for some people. I am not one of those people. I was taking natural supplements like Ashwaghanda, lemon balm and Valerian root. I got to a point where the natural supplements were not enough. I went back and forth with my therapist about going on medication for anxiety and this is what she said to me “Nicole you are in pain and I don’t want to see you hurting”. Once she put it to me in that way, I accepted where I was and called my doctor. I was concerned about weight gain, but honestly, it got so bad that I didn’t care about that trivial stuff anymore.

No one says that you’ll have to be on medication forever, but do what you have to in order to be able to function and operate as your best self.

Meditate

In addition to praying, I also take time out to meditate. I have been using the Head Space app and The Calm app. I pay for the yearly subscriptions and I think they’re totally worth it. Both apps are good. The Calm app is my favorite because they have guided meditations for sleep. I love how they play relaxing sounds in the background while you’re meditating. If you decide to try these apps or if you have any mediation app suggestions, please send them my way.

Practice Self Care

They are so many different types of self care and self care looks different for everyone. For me, one aspect of my self care is making sure I eat daily. When I struggle with anxiety, eating can sometimes be very difficult for me. I make sure to prioritize that. Here are the different types of self care we can practice daily.

  • Physical self care
  • Spiritual self care
  • Emotional self care
  • Environmental self care
  • Social self care
  • Professional self care
  • Personal self care

I make sure that I incorporate one of each of these categories into my daily routine. I know that it sounds like a lot, but these are activities that you’re probably already incorporating that you may not recognize.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. You can practice mindfulness while doing anything. I like to practice while I’m eating. I take my time and eat through my meals, focus on my chewing and my breathing at that time. It helps to keep my mind on what’s happening in the present moment.

Therapy

If you follow me on Instagram, then you know every week on Monday’s I post about how I dress up for my weekly therapy appointments.

Y’all know I am very passionate about mental health and that’s because it isn’t often talked about in the Black Christian community. In case you didn’t know already, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with going to therapy. You also don’t have to have to anything wrong with you or have a mental illness in order to seek out therapy. I have grown so much as a person from consistently going to therapy and I’m so glad I decided to go. If you’re looking for a sign of whether not to search for a therapist, this is it!

Know Your Triggers

This is a big one. Sometimes things come about or things trigger us that we may not be aware of. There are times when I’m anxious and may not understand why. When I began to go back over my day, I will realize that something happened during the day that triggered that anxiety. Could’ve been something I was thinking about, a word, a certain object, or something I saw on TV. The point is that you can’t always avoid your triggers, but you do need to know what they are. When I found out certain things triggered me, I did what I could to avoid them. When I couldn’t avoid them, I would and still do practice allowing the thoughts to pass through me and choosing not to dwell and ruminate on them. That doesn’t always work right away, but it does work with consistency.

Use Essential Oils

I love me some essential oils! I know you’ve probably heard the benefits that Lavender can have on calming anxiety and it does work. There are a few others that I have in my anxiety arsenal as well. They are:

  • Roman Chamomile
  • Bergamot
  • Valerian
  • Clary Sage (I add to my routine for hormonal anxiety)

With essential oils, there are multiple ways you can use them. You can diffuse them, make body oils and butters, inhale them, put them on the pressure points of your body, some of then you can ingest, BUT please make sure that your bottle says that are SAFE FOR INTERNAL USE. I use DOterra oils and some of them are safe for ingesting. Also make sure you use one hundred percent pure therapeutic grade essential oils.

So there you have it friends. These are some of the ways that I manage my anxiety. I also accept where I am in the present moment. I am hopeful that it won’t always be this way, but I also am living in the present.

Please know that there are some days where despite what you do, you still may have some anxiety. On those days my advice to you would be to do what you can and to extend yourself much grace.

I will end with this. Just because you struggle with mental illness that does not mean that you’re weak and your faith is small. Quite the contrary. Some of the strongest people I know (myself included) are the ones who face battles that are almost unbearable at times and STILL manage to show up.

You are stronger than you think friends, because when you are weak, God’s grace is sufficient for you.

If you suffer from anxiety or any other mental illness, what are some ways that you manage your symptoms? I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,

Much love to you Fam!

Nicole

April 27, 2021

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