Oh Anxiety, Hello Stranger.
We’ve all been there. Overworked and overwhelmed, looking for the next best “escape” from reality. Thinking that relief or happiness is in the next thing we do, the next skill we can learn or the next drink we can chug. So when all of that fantasy washes away, what do we really do? How do we seek help?
Before I start…here’s a lovely little disclaimer for y’all.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health professional and my advice should not be treated as such. I am speaking from the viewpoint of experience and wrote this piece in hopes to help others and myself. If you are seeking help from a professional, please seek out services!
Many of you know that I am an extreme advocate for therapy, but as a full-time entrepreneur, I don’t have the luxury of affordable health care to cover those expenses. So after having back-to-back anxiety attacks stemming from being overworked and experiencing extreme cases of “FOMO”, I had to sit back and think that there’s got to be ways to handle my anxiety that don’t include breaking the bank and that challenge me to think outside of what I would routinely do.
If you’re in it, you’re not in it alone and you’re definitely not a weirdo for not knowing that it’s coming. Anxiety comes in many different forms. If you’re like me, there’s times when you don’t even realize that your anxiety is creeping up on you, you’re high functioning and it then - BAM - it attacks! Attacks can come in many different forms. It doesn’t always look like a fetal position on the floor huffing and puffing. For me, it came in the form of over-scheduling, becoming irritable and losing my shit on people who don’t deserve it. Here’s a fun little visual about how anxiety may manifest into your everyday life. Hopefully this helps you look for signs, but don’t overthink it! When you feel anxious and it DOESN’T feel normal, that’s when you know it’s time to take a step back.
So, before I get started with my tips, you might ask - what is anxiety? While I could sum it up into so many different definitions, let’s take a second to Google it or click here to learn more.
OK, are we back? Cool.
So when all of these feelings arise and you don’t know what to do or who to call, try these tips that I’ve been testing out for the past couple of weeks. Thanks to friends and family who know me and to myself for re-organizing, I am able to try these options:
When the thoughts of worry start to crawl in and overwhelm you, try and combat every negative thought with a positive one. This is easier said than done, and I’m still working on actually doing this in the moment, but the few times I’ve practiced this, it did help me come down from an attack a lot quicker than letting things spiral out of control. If the thoughts start with “what if I fail?” answer it by asking “what if I don’t"?”.
Explore the world around you. I’m defffffinitely pushing myself to do this one. I love nature. I always have and I always will. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by it, so I’ve been attempting to get in the thick of it a little more. I work outside now, I’m actually sitting outdoors as I write this post. At times, I come outside and just sit. Still. Not thinking. Not working. It helps. When you hear the sounds of nature and just let the wind blow through your hair without worry, you make it easier for peace to enter into your mind and soul. (Thanks for this one, Naté!)
Take a break from social media. I mean like a real break. I was chatting with one of my best friends lately and we both agreed that there’s a lot of flexing happening on social media now-a-days. A lot of people showing the good in their life vs the real. I’m all for celebrating your successes and boasting about things you’ve worked your ass off for, but when you’re down and they’re up - it doesn’t hit the same. We’re human, jealousy and envy are a natural part of our nature, but suppressing the urge to compare your life to others is much easier when you can put the phone down. If you’re an entrepreneur, I know that being active and consistent on social media is an integral part of your brand, but it’s probably best to try using scheduling apps during your time away so that the content continues but your spirit is offline. I currently use Hootsuite to schedule my posts and have limited my time online on certain days. Sure, I’ll log on to post a few things here and there, but I am trying to keep the scrolling to a minimum. (Thanks for this one, Alex!)
Talk to yourself. I think I’ve admitted to this before, but I really mean it. Sometimes, I can be a complete mean girl, and for me that’s okay. I find myself wiping tears from my eyes post anxiety attack and yelling at my reflection in the mirror saying shit like “Bitch! You’re the shit and you know it.”…and hey, it works for me for now.
Accept help from your support groups. Now THISSSS is one for me to work on for sure, but I have taken the first step. Just a few days ago, I sent out an “SOS I NEED PRAYER” text to my closest friends because I was tired of acting like everything was okay in the moments that I needed them the most. After receiving an outpour of support from them, it made me realize that we can’t always seek help from the pros and sometimes we just need our friends!!
If you think you can’t afford a therapist, you never know until you ask. Some professionals truly do understand what it means to NEED help and will work with you. Just be honest, state your situation and ask about your options. If you need a resource, I recently went to the Grand Opening of Sista Afya’s offices in Chicago, IL. She has a program centered around income-driven help for our community. Check out those services here. Good luck!
So there you have it. Broke-ish and gettin’ help y’all! What tips do you suggest for me and others facing high anxiety? What does it look like for you and how has it helped? Let’s help each other!