For some, anxiety disorders are triggered from certain events, but for others, it seems to have materialized out of thin air. No matter how you develop it, sufferers the world over agree on one thing - anxiety bites the big one. It's difficult enough to deal with anyway, but throw parenthood into the mix and suddenly you're battling with a monster that you can't seem to control.
My own personal struggle with the big A reached a pinnacle at the end of last year. Suddenly, little tasks that used to be a breeze seemed like the most difficult things in the world. Trips to the store were dreaded expeditions into the unknown, doctors waiting rooms were places of existential fear and dread. Worst of all, I couldn't take my daughter to the places that I wanted to without the worry of having a panic attack... and the more I worried, the more anxious I felt. I knew it was irrational. I knew it was illogical. But I also knew that the feeling was very real. Back in January, I never thought I was going to be able to function "normally" again, but I was wrong. Here are five tips that I used to help get on top of my anxiety. Who knows, they could help you too.
Seek help. It might seem like the most obvious tip, but when you feel like the whole world doesn't understand you, reaching out to others can be incredibly difficult. Your doctor can put you in touch with numerous resources, from counseling to online information. I was dubious about opening up to a stranger about my problems, but once I did, I felt like a weight was lifted. Counselors can take you through Cognitive Behavioral Therapies that work wonders when you're in a state of panic.
Listen to a podcast. There are many different podcasts out there that deal with mental disorders like anxiety and depression. My personal favorite is The Anxiety Coaches, a weekly podcast hosted by professional coach Gina Ryan. Not only do they talk about what to do when you're in an agitated state, but these podcasts help you to realize that you are not alone. Put one on while you're doing the dishes, or driving to work. You'll be surprised how much they can help.
Make time for yourself. When you're a parent, it's easy to run on empty without even realizing it. Everything we do is for our little ones, whether it's working, doing the housework, or taking them to their favorite park. According to one counselor I have spoken with, our stresses build up like water in a jar until they overflow. What we need to do is open the faucet every now and then to keep things on an even keel. Carving out some time to do things that you enjoy can be incredibly beneficial to your peace of mind. It might be as simple as a bath in peace or reading a book.
Practice mindfulness. When my doctor first suggested mindfulness, I nodded politely and didn't really take much heed. Since when did I have time to sit back and count the list of things I was grateful for, in between loads of laundry, work and parenting? But when I actually looked into it, I realized that mindfulness doesn't have to be an hour in a room cross-legged in front of a Buddha. It can be as simple as listing three things that you're grateful for when you wake up in the morning. What's more, this practice has been scientifically proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. Apps like Headspace are great for helping you incorporate mindfulness into your day.
Talk about it. Telling your loved ones how you feel can be daunting, but by being open about how you're doing you may feel better. You might also be surprised to know how many other people have been through it too. Over 40 million Americans are affected by Generalized Anxiety Disorder each year, equating to almost 20% of the population.
Consider homeopathic remedies. There are a ton of prescription medicines used to treat anxiety orders, and some people have great success with those. Because of other health issues, I opted to go down the natural route instead. There are several homeopathic remedies that deal with anxiety in its various forms, from Aconite to Lycopodium. Consult with a qualified homeopath to see what remedies could work for you, but no matter what route you take (prescription or otherwise) be sure to do your research first.
Remember, you are not alone. Just like Gandalf said, "This too shall pass."