7.31.2013

{on anxiety}

There's something that I'm not sure I've told you; I've hinted at it before, I suppose, but I haven't come out and explicitly said it. I guess I'm afraid to. But, this is my safe space. It's my creative outlet, my favorite form of therapy. So here it goes. 
This isn't a new thing, really. Ever since I can remember, I've been a bit paranoid. I hate the dark and being home by myself. I like to think up really terrible scenarios in my head, and get worked up over them. But in this past year, my anxiety has gone to a whole other level. 

The thing is, I'm happy. I'm happier than I've ever been in my life. In the past, I've dealt with my share of anxiety, sure, but I was depressed for quite a while. Changing my outlook on life, and my career, has made any residual sadness in my life disappear.

I guess anxiety is just something that we all deal with. For me, however, having the pressure of not only working for yourself (and providing for your family), but also accepting the trust that my clients have put in me, is a lot. More than that, it's a lot to trust myself that I got this

In the past few months, I've made an intentional decision to work on my anxiety. It was nearly unmanageable a few months ago, but it was also taking a toll on my marriage and my personal life. I couldn't sleep. I was crying almost every day. It as bad. 

I feel a thousand times better today. My work is a thousand times better, my home life is a thousand times better, and I'm just...content. It's hard for me to put this out there, but some of it does have to do with medication. At first I was ashamed, but now I realize that it was necessary. Before I was on medication, I would let my work consume me all the time. Even if something wasn't a high priority and didn't need to get done right that minute, all I could think about was work. Now, I know when something is at risk of not getting done, but instead of just stressing over it, I just get it done. And if I have to let something go until the next morning, I do. I don't let myself wallow or think about it too much. 

I wanted to share a few other ways that I'm learning to deal with my anxiety. Medication doesn't fix everything, but it helps put me in the right frame of mind to calm myself down and figure out what I need to do. Here are some other ways that I deal with it all. 

Let go of technology.

If you work for yourself, you know the catch-22 that is technology. iPhones and laptops are great, until they consume your life. It's easy to get notifications every time you get an email, or spend any spare moment religiously checking your social media sites. I did it, and it wasn't until recently that I realized how much it consumed my life. 

I don't need to be constantly checking my email, and I definitely don't need to be answering emails right away. If I've learned anything about blogging the three years that I've been doing it, it's that you have to live your life, before you can share it with others. My family and my home and my happiness are the most important things to me, so these are the things that I need to focus on. Technology doesn't always have to play a part in that. 

In the past six months, I've slowly let go of my grip on technology. I don't get push notifications for my email; I don't actually get any type of notifications on my phone, other than calls or text messages. And our phones stay out of the bedroom completely. If we go out to dinner, our phones stay away. It's one very easy way that I've learned to deal with any anxiety that comes with being connected.

Write it down.

Sometimes, I do actually have a reason to be stressed or overwhelmed. Work does get out of hand every once in a while, and there are definitely days that I have to work into the night. When that happens, and I feel like everything is just out of control, I write it all down. 

Even if I have an ongoing to do list, I really find it helpful to write down exactly what it is I have to do. My favorite technique is to make a two column list; on one side is the task I have to do or what is stressing me out, and the other side has what I can do about it. Seeing a list of explicit tasks really makes a difference. Not only that, but if I'm stressing out about something and write down that there is nothing I can do about it, then it kind of forces me to just let it go. You should try it. 

Remember the why.

I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but this is probably one of the best ways that I deal with  my anxiety. Sometimes I'll write it down, sometimes I just take a moment to close my eyes and remember why it is that I'm doing what I'm doing. Usually, the reason has to do with my quality of life. That really puts things into perspective. 

So, there it is. I have anxiety, and sometimes I have a hard time dealing with it. But life is good, for all of us. I just have to remember that sometimes. 

Do you have anxiety? How do you deal with it?

15 comments:

Joelle Duff said...

Thank you for sharing, anxiety is something a lot of us struggle with and never really learn to deal with it in a healthy way. Kudos to you for being strong and figuring out how to balance life and work.

Joelle Duff said...

I'm so glad you shared this, because 1) everyone experiences anxiety and 2) I guarantee that there are a lot of people reading this post that are really struggling with it at the moment. For some reason, people tend to attach stigmas to medications for depression and anxiety. In reality, you are treating a chemical imbalance just as you would a virus or the flu. And the results can enhance quality of life immensely. As you said, they just create the space for you to work on yourself. I really admire you for being willing to share :)


xxx
Jenna

Joelle Duff said...

Anxiety is definitely something I deal with every single day. It's taken new forms since I started working for myself. I love this post, Joelle -- I can relate and I know lots of others can, too.

Joelle Duff said...

I've always battled with anxiety as well. It's never reached the point where I feel the need to seek out professional help, but I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with doing so, and definitely nothing wrong with taking medication (I was a psych major in college). Lately, I've been pretty anxious over work--I'm not feeling happy or fulfilled with my job, so I'm really struggling with trying to find something new, and not feeling guilty over potentially leaving my current job. Thanks for sharing a few things that might help calm me down!

Joelle Duff said...

my anxiety was pretty bad for a two-week period a couple of weeks ago. i couldn't relax, all i could think were negative thoughts, & it started to feel as though i was depressed. it's strange, but one evening, as i scrolled through twitter, i realized how very un-alone i was. that was kind of a turning point for me. i have a strange relationship with anxiety, & i plan to use some of the techniques you've laid out here to help me in the future. thank you for putting this out there!

Joelle Duff said...

You're very welcome Lauren! It's so true - we are not alone. I think there are a lot of people that suffer in silence, but there really is no need to be. I hope things are better for you now :) xoxo

Joelle Duff said...

I think that my job has always been a contributing factor - in both my depression and anxiety. Sometimes there are things you can do to change it, and sometimes there aren't. The best thing is just find a way to deal with it on your own...we're all different! I do hope that some of these help you Kate :) xoxo

Joelle Duff said...

Thanks lady. I know that I'm definitely not alone...it just isn't talked about enough!

Joelle Duff said...

You are so right Jenna. I had a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that I needed medication, but I really do feel SO much better. My life really is so much more fulfilling now that I can actually deal with things. Thanks so much for the words of encouragement my dear! xoxo

Joelle Duff said...

Thank you so much Camille! I needed some kind words about this - I was so afraid to hit publish! There really are so many people that struggle, and if I can help just one, it was worth it :) xoxo

Joelle Duff said...

I get horrible anxiety sometimes. Where it makes me throw up, I cannot look at any notifications, and can barely leave the bed. What works best for me is putting my phone in a drawer and being as busy as possible. If I avoid the situation giving me anxiety (because it is usually me overreacting), the time away allows me to reflect and calm down.

Joelle Duff said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Joelle! I've had panic attacks before and it can be very isolating. You've also reminded me I've been meaning to do a post about relaxation tips. I need to get on that. I have a specific breathing and visualization technique that works for me almost every time!

Joelle Duff said...

I love this post, Joelle. Thank you so much for sharing. There is nothing at all to be ashamed about - we all have our "medications." I see a counselor at least twice a month just to stay on top of my anxiety/stress/baggage. You should feel proud of being proactive about your health and happiness. I also agree with you 100% on how you deal with anxiety - I think those are important even if you don't have anxiety too.

Joelle Duff said...

It is a daily battle for me. Some days are better than others. I am with you on several things... medication (sometimes it IS needed - and it. is. okay!!), writing it down (HUGE, so important.. just get those anxieties out on paper! They feel less big that way.) hiding the phone (FB, Twitter, Instagram - all lead to comparisons that are, most of the time, unhealthy)... I add prayer (and meditation). It helps me put my trust in my God - knowing he has a plan for me is a big relief. I am LOVING your idea of focusing on the WHY. That is so important!


Thanks for sharing. Another helpful piece to calming anxiety is realizing you're not alone. I am sure you've given peace to all those out there who share this feeling but were to anxious to say anything.


Much love,
Allison

Joelle Duff said...

Oh joelle, i knew i picked you to be my wedding planner for all the right reasons. I have dealt with anxiety and for some months, it took over my life. I was in such a bad place emotionally, I finally turned to a therapist for help. It changed everything just by talking to someone and getting my life into perspective. But the thing that she had pointed out to me, was WHY is this effecting me. Most of the time, it's when I blow things out of proportion. I am so thankful I hired you to take care of my wedding, I completely trust you in making sure I have the very best day. You are AMAZING, don't you forget it!!