Lately, my anxiety has been an unwelcome visitor that won’t go away. I have been stuck at a 5/10 on a scale of no anxiety-all the anxiety and I can’t seem to lower it. This also means that when my panic attacks come, they seem more intense and make me more exhausted than ‘normal’. I have a few go-to tricks for when I’m stuck in this rut and I want to give up.
1. Let go of the outcome.
My anxiety loves it when I’m making mistakes. It will nitpick and laugh at everything I’m doing wrong and will push me right down that hill of snowballing until I am in full panic mode. It might just be that I am cooking dinner, dropping things, burning things, overcooking or undercooking, but that somehow ends up being a reflection on who I am as a person. When I start to notice that I’m really reacting to the mistakes I am making, I remind myself to let it go – cue Idina Menzel.
It’s hard to admit that you can’t control the result of what is happening – because you have either already overcooked your spaghetti noodles or you’re waiting on someone else to act, but it is necessary. I remind myself that this is just a moment in my day, I can choose to fix what has happened, or I can adapt to a new solution, and it doesn’t reflect on me or control the entirety of how my day goes.
2. Celebrate everything, no matter how small.
Since I’m on reading break this week, I had high hopes of catching up on readings, working on my application to social work, and really deep cleaning our entire messy house. I spent most of the day in bed, beating myself up for not being able to sleep the night before and feeling exhausted. But, I managed to get all the dishes that were piling up in massive stacks done. I had to give myself a gold star and be proud that I got out of bed, I did something to improve my environment and that was good. When Jeff got home tonight, I even made spaghetti – his favourite dish and one I haven’t made in a long time. I took a second to look at what I was doing and I looked over to him saying “I’m COOKING!” with a giant smile on my face. I finished off cooking dinner feeling like a badass, knowing that I haven’t cooked a real meal in weeks.
I’m really lucky that I have someone who understands that these little things are giant steps some days and that it’s important to celebrate with me. It took a while for him to understand, but now that we are on the same page, it is so so so helpful. I often make a mental list of things that I did during the day that I can be proud of myself for. Sometimes, it’s as small as showering or taking the dogs out when I’ve been feeling extremely agoraphobic, but it’s important to remember that you are worthy of that little celebration.
3. Reward yourself with things that make you happy.
I am all too familiar with those days where I feel like the elephant is sitting on my chest and making his home there. Getting out of bed, putting on clothes, and attending to responsibilities are way too much to ask on those days, which starts a whole new branch of self-guilting and many unkind thoughts. I try to find something that I look forward to – whether it’s binge watching some bad reality TV, picking up that new lip colour I really, really want, or playing some nerd games. When I have completed something, I will give myself some time to indulge in what I enjoy. I have found a new love for following makeup gurus on YouTube and feel really calm and engaged when I am watching a new video, which encourages me to get out of bed and grab my computer to see if they have uploaded a new video this week. It also often inspires me to go have a shower and try out a new look I just watched. I’ve seen a huge difference in my ability to girl since I have started following them and it makes me proud to see how I can accomplish new looks – and I have been getting so many compliments!
Before I give up and fall deep into that hole of anxiety and depression, I try these things. Most of the time, I will feel a little less at war with myself when I try them, even if that feeling only lasts an hour. Relief is relief, and I hope that any of these suggestions will help someone else who is experiencing the same thing I am.