How I Recovered After Losing Myself to Anxiety
At the start of May last year, anxiety came swinging back with a vengeance into my life. I was dealing with both positive and negative changes in my life; I won’t bore you with the details, I’ll just say I had a lot on my plate.
I am pretty good at using coping skills and navigating life changes, but the past year loaded on one thing after another, I was unable to stay on top of my anxiety which led to experiencing 2-3 panic episodes on a daily basis for six months. I woke up in fear, lived each day in fear, and went to bed in fear. I was not able to enjoy the company of family or friends or do the things I once loved as I was trying to get by without having a panic episode. As the months went by, I started to become frustrated with myself as anxiety was something I had dealt with in the past, and couldn’t believe it was back this intensely and impacting the quality of my everyday life. I was lost and allowed anxiety to take control of my life.
This past January, the panic episodes started to subside as my life settled, I was able to start living without the constant state of fear and anxiety looming over me. While navigating the residual impact of 6 months of panic episodes, I knew I still had work to do. This past spring, I started to put myself first, dive deeper into self-care, and picked up practices I left years ago.
Self-care that helped me recover from anxiety:
I use meditation as a tool when I am feeling anxious and stressed, I pop in my headphones for 10 minutes, take a few deep breaths and focus on relaxing music, it helps me refocus and destress.
I would have to say taking one probiotic daily has helped my anxiety levels come down, like a lot! It has also helped with digestive issues related to anxiety.
During my heightened anxious state, I only went for small walks with my dog as exercise is a trigger for my anxiety. Over time, I was able to go to the gym and spend more and more time on cardio and weights. I also integrated home workouts for when going to the gym wasn't an option, but I still wanted to do some form of exercise.
My work and life can get seriously bogged down with commitments and projects. It is nice to laugh and be silly and forget about adulting. Impractical Jokers is a fantastic show that has brought on the belly laughs!
I tend to think in advance about my to-do lists and get overwhelmed to the point of shutting down. Redirecting my thoughts to the present moment helps me to focus on the here and now to do what I can today, in this hour and minute.
As a recovering people pleaser and type A person, my automatic response to everything was YES. Then after a day or two, I’d look for an excuse to get out of the commitments I said yes to. When someone asks me to do something I instantly feel no about, I say no and have learned it is okay to say no.
Going through 2-3 panic episodes a day for six months is exhausting, and it drives up cortisol levels. The recurring panic episode cycle does damage to my sleep, mood, and emotions. I’ve learned in the after months of anxiety; I need to rest even when I am feeling rested. It is okay to take a mental health day or get a few extra hours on the weekends.
When I started to take better care of myself, I noticed I was happy again, singing randomly around the house, and I was able to wake-up without anxiety or have the feeling of anxiety in my everyday life. Self-care is a lifelong practice, give your body and mind time, don’t beat it up with negative thoughts or actions. Take care of your body and mind in ways that will not harm it, but help it to feel nourished, nurtured, loved, and cared for.