As most of you know, I’ve had a pretty rough last few months. Not only physically from dealing with a second, mild, diagnosis of GBS, but mentally as well. Being sick in bed for so long was incredibly discouraging, and when you get into those dark times, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. During particularly bad moments, it can be hard to remain calm – especially when the world continues to move so quickly around you. For the first time in my life, other than when I was in ICU, I experienced severe anxiety – something I had no idea how to handle.
The problem solver in me knew I had to get it under control asap. I researched tips, I asked for suggestions, and I spoke with a psychologist. Now that I’m in a much better place, I wanted to share some things that helped me during such a dark time. For those of you that struggle with stress and anxiety, I hope even just one or two of the items on this list help you:
- First and foremost, acknowledge that its OK to feel bad! You are HUMAN! Even though we’ve come along way, there’s still this stigma around our mental health. When we’re sad and depressed, we tend to feel ashamed – like we are doing something wrong by not being positive. Remind yourself that it’s completely normal to get overwhelmed and anxious. You are NOT alone.
- That being said, shifting your negative mindset to a positive one can help. Instead of focusing on everything that might go wrong, ask yourself this one question. What if what I’m worried about, actually works out the way I want it to? Try to focus on that. It takes the same amount of energy to give yourself positive affirmations than it does to give yourself negative self talk.
- Figure out what is causing your anxiety. Write that down. Then figure out what you can control. List the different options you have. What are possible solutions to your issues ? The answer may be right in front of you.
- Surround yourself with smells, textures, and sounds that calm your mind. Think bubble baths, lavender, vanilla, heating pads, fuzzy blankets, relaxing music. Whatever that looks like for you. Take a break.
- On the flip side, listen to upbeat music, go for a brisk walk, a run or a quick workout. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in your body and can help change your mood.
- De-clutter something in your life. Spend 15 minutes and clean out your fridge. Get rid of old clothes in your closet. Tidy up your pantry. Unfollow negative people on social media. Getting rid of the clutter in your life can be incredibly freeing.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, rearrange your priorities. First, make a list of all the things you need to get done. Then pick the tasks that must get done this week and move to a new list. Anything else that doesn’t have to get dealt with, put onto a second list. Don’t even deal with that one until you have to. Often times we have so many things on our plate, we don’t realize there are tasks that can probably be put off for a little bit longer – giving us more time to focus on what has to get done now.
- Listen to an uplifting podcast. Read a self-help book. Sometimes we need a pep talk. Some of the most inspiring people/writers know just what say to make you feel better. My personal favorite for podcasts is Chaleen Johnson; for books, is Rachel Hollis. But there are so many other great ones too.
- Think back to some of the hard times you’ve been through. You need to remind yourself you’ve gotten through hard times before and you can do it again. We human beings are so much stronger than we think.
- Reach out for support. Don’t expect people to be able to read your mind. Tell someone what it is you need- whether you need them to pick up your kids from school, bring you a meal, or just listen to you vent. Most of the time your friends want to help you, you just have to ask.
- Watch a funny movie, or go through the funny boards on Pinterest. Laughter really is the best medicine and can help reduce your stress.
- On particularly bad days. take CBD! Many people find it takes the edge off without getting you stoned, and calms you down.
- When you feel better, notice your patterns and how you repeat them. Try to figure out your triggers – what sort of things cause you anxiety? Can you avoid them? Then look at your behavior. If you cant avoid them, how can you react differently next time you are faced with it again?
I personally added this exact list in the notes section of my phone. When I start to feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious about something, I open it up – I start at the top and work my down. I rarely need to go through every thing before I already start to feel better. I encourage you to make your own list of things that help you, and when you are having a bad day, try them out!