I have anxiety.
It’s not huge, it’s not obvious, but it’s there.
No, I haven’t been “diagnosed” and no it doesn’t manifest in very obvious ways, but it is there.
Nothing brings it out in me more than packing my entire family up for a vacation. I feel like I am the only one who cares if we have enough underwear to last out the week. And are our clothes even clean to be pack? Who would know but me, the laundry goddess.
Sometimes I wish people knew that mild anxiety is just as difficult to deal with as full-blown, medication requiring mental illnesses. Okay, maybe it’s not JUST AS difficult, but it still sucks. A lot.
Most of the time the only “symptom” I have is racing thoughts. I think that can be chalked up, in part, to being a mom. As Mom I need to keep everyone organized and know where everything is at all times, since no one else knows how to actually look for things. If it’s not on top of all the piles of crap we own, it must be lost forever, right?
Some days those racing thoughts get in the way of my tasks. Again, not that often, but it’s happened. I am too easily distracted by my thoughts to finish any one thing, or I make more mistakes at work because I just can’t focus.
Feelings of Overwhelm
This one goes hand in hand with the racing thoughts, and “mom life.” Sometimes I just need to stop everything because I feel like if I do one more thing I will crumple in a heap on the floor. Even though the 50 things I’m trying to do don’t need to be done right-this-second, I still feel that pressure to get it all done NOW!
I want so badly to cultivate my friendships but I also have zero drive to go out of my house. This could be an anxiety thing, or just an introvert thing. I love being on my own, or with my family, but the idea of going out socially to try to meet people and cultivate new friendships is, frankly, frightening. If you are already my friend I would love to hang out, but a group of new people scares me. I suck at small talk. And I often feel like all I have to talk about are my kids. (I know this is a common “mom problem.”)
This might be a hormone thing, but there are days where I’m just sad. Sometimes it’s something that’s reminded me of a sad event or something, but I have sad days. The idea of my kids growing up so fast and leaving me behind can cause me a sad day. This is a symptom that either resolves on it’s own, or else I go somewhere and have a good cry and then I mostly feel better. Sometimes I’ll throw a post up on FB asking for some happy, uplifting posts or photos to brighten my day – and that actually works!
What I Do About It All:
Sometimes when the feelings are overwhelming I just stop. Step away from everything I’m doing (trying to do, thinking about etc.) and refocus. (This can be as simple as going to the bathroom during the workday to get away for 2 minutes.)
Get Active, & Get Outside
Exercise is a great tool to slow down the world of anxiety. When I’m having a long weekend, my dance class on Monday night helps me let go of the lingering stress. Plus it’s still very hard for me, so I don’t have time to be inside my head when I need to be inside my legs and creating ballet!
If my workday is stressful I will try to take a short walk on my lunch break. Just getting out and moving for a bit really puts me in a better mood. Even though I just walk around downtown Kingston, I try to enjoy the gardens in the yards, or I walk along the waterfront to feel like I’m experiencing nature as well as getting some exercise.
This can be more tough. Ask your family to do some tasks around the house that you know they can do. I struggle with this because it’s so much quicker (and tidier) if I do everything myself. But sometimes I can walk away when someone else tells me they can do that task for me. If it’s feasible for you, get a cleaner/gardener/meal subscription service – whatever tasks you really can’t, or don’t want to, deal with. We had a cleaner through once, but they told us we had too much stuff on all our surfaces to really be able to do a thorough cleaning. They got the kitchen and bathroom done, though, so that was great!
Feel Your Feelings
I know sometimes the feelings that come along with anxiety can be quite extreme. For me, I get mad and hold onto it for a long time. Or I feel sad for an unknown reason. But you know what, it’s okay to let those feelings out. Maybe not in the middle of your workday, or while you’re doing homework with your kids, but it really is okay to let go.
I’ve been known to have a little cry in the bathroom at work when I’m having a stressful day. Or at home – my husband thinks I’m crazy because all my emotional outbursts, for whatever reason, end in me having a good cry. But I always feel better after, and can then go on and finish dealing with whatever was stressing me out.
Talk About It
Again, sometimes a really hard thing. It’s like if you tell people about it, it makes it real. And it’s easier to deal (at least for me) if I pretend I don’t have anxiety. Instead I’m just quirky and have strong feelings about stuff. But really, when my husband bothers me enough for me to finally talk about what’s bothering me, I do definitely feel better.
Some Other Coping Strategies
- Yoga and/or Meditation – connecting with your body and your mind may help quiet some of the thoughts.
- Alter Your Diet – limiting alcohol and caffeine, and trying to stick to a balanced diet can help.
- Get Enough Sleep – I have a post with some sleep tips for you.
- Seek Professional Help – if nothing is helping, are you are entirely overwhelmed, it may be time to talk to a doctor.
So what about you?
Do you have some anxiety in your life? And how do you deal with it? I would love some more tools to help me quiet my mind and settle my emotions.