"I have anxiety today."
You wouldn't believe how often I hear this statement from my friends. Heck, I probably say it to them several times each week.
I'm inching up on 28 (birthday is next month!), and let me tell ya -- ANXIETY IS REAL. (I'm no doctor, but I'd argue that most everyone has experienced anxiety in some form.) Anxiety doesn't wait for some earth-shattering experience to hit; I've faced it quite a few times in the morning, after having a solid night's rest, with exciting plans for the day awaiting me.
Do you have a job? A significant other? Want a significant other, but can't find Mr./Ms. Right? Want to drop a few pounds? Struggling to pay rent after one too many dinners out? Had one too many cocktails at a friend's cookout? Are you human -- a living, breathing, emotional being with goals you haven't yet accomplished? Well, guess what -- you, my friend, are a prime target for anxiety.
Anxiety might seem unbeatable. It definitely seems unexplainable. But one thing's for sure -- it can't cripple you if you don't allow it to. Here are five tips I've devised over the years that have helped me conquer this pesky monster.
1. Make a change. Get a haircut. Book a trip. Pick up a new book. Focus on something to get excited about. The key is "fresh." Bring something into your life that wasn't there before -- something that won't add stress. Ditch your daily routine (or at least part of it), and you'll feel revived. Try that new recipe. Sit outside to eat your lunch. Do something to make yourself smile. Think: simple. The smallest change can have the most tremendous effect on your mental health.
2. Take baby steps. Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was eventually built. Don't look at your entire to-do list and expect to feel motivated. That shit is scary. (If you're like me, your list includes 982 items -- ranging from life goals to things to pick up at the grocery store. Ugh.) Pick one or two things each day that move you in the right direction. Maybe you don't have the money to hire a maid, nor the time to attack that infinite pile of dirty clothes, but do something -- even if it's washing one "measly" load of towels. (You'd be surprised how therapeutic laundry can be.)
3. Unplug. Listen to YOU. When you face these anxious feelings, your loved ones may try to offer advice. Mom wants to console you, friends want to cheer you up. Dad wants to help fix all of your problems. But sometimes it's best to step back from everyone and have a little "me" time. No need to check Facebook or your email. Do what your soul needs at that present moment. Sometimes it's a bubble bath and giant mug of hot tea. Other times it's Chinese takeout and a fun magazine. Ask yourself, "What's something that would put a smile on my face right now?" Then, do it.
4. Think it out. Anxiety isn't necessarily rational. You wake up on a Wednesday. Sun is shining. Things aren't crazy busy at the office, and you have plans to meet your friends after work for dinner and a movie. Then, that asshole (anxiety) makes an appearance. It's happened to me. It's happened to a lot of us. Sometimes, it's as simple as taking some deep breaths and reminding yourself that it's all going to be fine. Recognize the anxiety's presence, but don't give the anxious feelings power. It's completely acceptable -- and arguably healthy -- to acknowledge your anxieties, but don't give in to them. Channel the energies behind those anxious feelings for reflection. Anxiety isn't permanent. Feel it, then let it pass. You will come out on top, promise.
5. Let it out. Literally. I'm a believer in physically releasing anxiety. Walk around the block, and get those endorphins flowing. Is it hot outside? You're sweating? Good. That's the anxiety leaving your body. Sing a song in the shower. Hit those high notes, and get your vocals in on the fight. Chug water to flush that bad juju out. Main takeaway: Don't let the anxiety worsen. Don't let it fester. Release, release, release!
Of course, like with any other issue our bodies/minds face, speaking to a professional and/or taking medicine might be the solution. But the type of anxiety seemingly plaguing millennials is a different brand. It's not stemming from one horrific breakup or childhood trauma.
It's the "little things." A never-ending to-do list. Being swamped at work, arguing with a friend, moving to a new place. Maybe a permanent cure to anxiety doesn't exist, but even so, I think the goal is to put anxiety in the I-can-beat-you category.
Give these tips a whirl, and come up with some of your own. Be the boss of your own self, and watch your anxiety subside. You got this!