Anxiety is a real thing. Yes, you heard me. I recently came across a set of statistics that 40 million U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 75 percent of them experience their first episode of anxiety by the age of 22. That number really struck a cord with me. At the age of 21, I can absolutely say I have experienced my fair share of anxiety. I have no shame in admitting it, nor should anyone else. I believe it is a normal thing to feel anxious about various things going on in your life because of the world we live in. For me, I had never experienced anxiety until more recently. Trying to balance school, work, family and friends, all at the same time as I am trying to figure out my future and what my next chapter of my life after college will look like. How could I not feel anxious?Although I have moments of feeling extremely anxious, I have worked really hard on ways to help myself cope with it and how to move forward with my life. It is so easy to shut down and ignore how you are feeling, but eventually you will have to face your emotions. Once you figure out ways to help with your anxiety, it makes it that much easier to find a healthy balance and live your happiest life. Now, I am not a doctor by any means, but I have come up with a list of tips that are very helpful for me personally, and maybe they will help you, too!
I could give you the thousands of statistics out there that back up the fact that exercise is so good for your mental health, or I could just tell you from my experience. Any time I am feeling extremely anxious about something, it's so easy for me to want to just crawl into bed and turn my mind off by taking a nap. That being said, that is usually a temporary solution. Once I wake up from my nap, I am right back to where I was before. On the other hand, every time I head to the gym and do a killer workout, my mind is always way more clear afterwards. Even taking a small run around the block does wonders!
Meditation is a great way to get your anxiety and stress levels down. When I first experienced episodes of anxiety, I researched different ways to help cope with it, and meditation was number one on the list. I had never really meditated before outside of a yoga class, so I did not know how to do it myself or where to start! Luckily, there are so many apps out there to help guide you and you can download them easily on your phone. Headspace: Mediation is highly ranked and it is the one I personally use.
3. Read a Book
Now, I don't mean read a school book. Go out to the store and buy a book of your choosing. Something that will help you get your mind off of whatever is going on in your life. I am trying to do this more because it is so effective. It allows your mind to be free of everything you have to accomplish the next day, and you can just immerse yourself in the story. Even if you read one chapter each night, I am telling you, it truly makes a difference!
4. Make a Playlist
This one sounds silly, but I have a playlist on my phone dedicated to when I am really stressed and anxious. The playlist consists of uplifting music that literally forces a smile on my face. Music has such a huge effect on our moods if you think about it. When we hear a sad song, we become sad. When we need motivation, we listen to pump-up music. So, when you are feeling anxious, listen to some happy songs.
5. Look Through Pictures
One thing that always helps me is to look at old pictures. While this might not help everyone, it works really well for me. I look back at all of my memories with the ones I love, and it helps remind me of how grateful I am to live the life I do. It allows me to feel centered, and realize that this too shall pass and I will get through whatever is making me anxious.
Next time you are experiencing anxiety, give one of these a shot! Anxiety is most definitely real, and it is not fun, but the most important thing about anxiety is learning how to cope with it. Don't just ignore it. Don't shut down. Face it head on and learn which coping mechanisms work for you so the next time you experience it you can walk away feeling better than ever.
Lastly, I am going to challenge you. I decided today that I am going to take a little break from social media for a few days. Personally, social media never helps me cope with my anxiety, it actually makes it worse, and I am sure I am not the only one out there. So, I challenge you to take a little break with me! See how far you can go without it. I'm sure it will help clear your mind and allow you to focus more on what really matters.