Hello Friends, for this week’s post I wanted to talk about anxiety. I think a lot of young adults suffer from some form of anxiety and I wanted to dispel some myths and show you some coping mechanisms. I start this piece noting I am not a psychiatrist and that these are merely some words for thought.
Picture this: You wake up in the morning, you check your phone, scroll through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. You feel sad about missing your friends party this weekend when you see the photos. You scroll the headlines, there’s been another school shooting. You go and brush your teeth, start your morning ritual, a weight on your chest thinking about what you need to get done that day. Your phone rings, it’s a credit card company reminding you your overdue. On your commute to work, you check your email, filled with offers of things you must buy. You wish your job paid more. You remember a bill you forgot to pay. There is an accident on the main interstate your ten minutes late to work, you walk in your manager is upset. You feel like you’re working hard at work, but you also feel under appreciated. You think about getting a job, but you remember your finances and you feel tired. Your day feels long and stressful, you take your lunch as a way to catch up on extra work you missed because a mandatory staff meeting that didn’t pertain to you. You feel your heart pound as you force yourself to make cold calls, the people you call are cold. You feel small. When you finally get home you feel tired, and hungry. You get fast food on the way home because your too tired to cook. You feel like your life is a cycle. You dread getting up and doing it again tomorrow.
That was my life for three years before I left my job. You can always change your job, change your circumstances. But even changing professions, I still feel a lot of these things. Our society is set up to live to work instead of to work to live. Our society is set up for us to feel anxious and small, chasing the next paycheck, buying the latest thing, posting the right content online. Now, I am not dissing society, I just think we should be aware that its made to make us feel insignificant, anxious and alone. I want to show with this post that once we recognize our set backs we can begin to refocus our energy.
I want to go into diagnosable anxiety, so you can cut yourself a break. Whether your anxiety is passing thing because you’re stuck in a rut or reading this makes you decide to schedule an appointment with a therapist. I want to tell you that it’s ok. All humans should be talking to someone about what’s bothering them, so let’s start there.
Occasional Anxiety is completely normal, we are complex human beings, diagnosable anxiety happens when the fear doesn’t go away and gets worse over time. There are many types of anxiety, including panic disorder – where your anxiety comes in sudden and intense attacks, social anxiety disorder – where your anxiety revolves around social interactions. Risk factors for anxiety include shyness, exposure to stressful events, economic status, being divorced or widowed, being female, and genetic factors. Reading the list of symptoms, we can all raise are hand and have experienced one of these.
General anxiety disorder symptoms include:
Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
Being easily fatigued
Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
Difficulty controlling the worry
Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
The main treatment for Anxiety is Psychotherapy or talk therapy. Other ways that have shown to be very successful are self-help or support groups and utilizing stress management technics, and if none of these treatments work there are medications, there have been studies tying elevated afternoon cortisol levels in the saliva to anxiety. Based on diagnostic interview data from the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), An estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults had diagnosable anxiety disorder in 2007. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States.
According to WebMD Anxiety is defined as :A mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. Our society makes worry almost a part of daily life. You probably feel worried right now. I would contend anxiety has become a natural part of living today. Don’t worry don’t go out and get anxiety medication, I am going to walk you through some life exercise that may help you with your worry.
Number One: Gain Freedom for Yourself
The first thing you can do in your life is gain back your financial freedom. This is the number one thing that causes anxiety for individuals in 25 to 35-year-old range. Finances are hard. We don’t talk about them, but they stress everyone out. You can gain finical freedom simply by sitting yourself down and writing out a budget. It’s really that simply.
I have looked at multiple budgeting Apps that may be helpful, however for myself I have found its easier to use a simple excel spreadsheet. Be honest with yourself about how much you spend. Write out all your bills for the next month, when their due, decide if it’s better for you to break up payments between paychecks. I recommend a simple day planner, where you can plan out monthly the major events, work and social, and plan your expenses based on paying down your debt, having fun and saving money. Focusing on experiences, not buying things. Saving $3 a week will equal $156 at the end of the year!
Ok I know what you are thinking, duh, Thea come on, I am an adult! but let me ask you this, are you doing this every month? Are you planning out your finances each month according to your goals? Are you sitting down each month, giving yourself time to think about the month ahead of you and making conscious decisions about your future? Planning for concerts, friend’s parties, scheduling yourself private time?
Maybe you run your budget and you have $100 extra each month. Save $25 and maybe spend the rest on a massage. Plan that time for yourself. Maybe you have a stressful week at work coming up, maybe schedule in some down time the following week. Have a plan of where your stress will concentrate and give yourself space to release it. This whole process may take only 10 min. But think of the freedom you’ve gained. You give yourself space to know what’s coming ahead. When things pop up, because life happens, you already know what’s on your plate and can plan accordingly. Now you don’t have to become a calendar nerd but find a system that works for you. Make planning ahead a priority.
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Number Two: Do Something That Alters your Outlook
Now that you’ve sat down and planned out your month, put something on your agenda that freaks you out but puts you closer towards a goal. You want to do stand up comedy? Attend a local Stand Up Comedy Event. Do you love watching Ninja warrior? Schedule a session at local CrossFit or kickboxing gym. Challenge yourself independently with your own goals. Provide yourself with ownership over them.
For my attaching goals and dreams to each month helps me deal with doing things I am nervous about or don’t want to do. If something makes me feel super anxious, I like to schedule something else to take my mind off of it. You have a large presentation coming, plan some thing else big on a personal level that excites you. Divert that frustrated stressful energy to something that will help you step towards your goals. I think My next log post will be on goal setting.
One goal that I am going to work on this month is drinking less.I feel almost trained to go for a cold one when I am feeling overwhelmed and I have created a pattern of behavior. After looking at my finances that’s an area I can cut back. Maybe I will order water the next time I go out instead, or even a club soda. Focusing on drinking much less, I am altering the reality I have created for myself. Alcohol seems a completely normal thing to me, but why? I notice I have been getting headaches the morning after I drink more than two drinks. Which causes me to sleep in more. If you look at a cycle or pattern of behavior you dislike, evaluate the steps in it and figure out if you can alter your outlook. It’s hard to do self-reflection like this, I’ll admit I am not the best with it.
Number Three: Get Active
Honestly the best way to deal with anything mental is to exert physical energy. Go for a walk, schedule yourself a ten min walk every day, focus your energy on that. Maybe start watching free YouTube fitness videos. Maybe join a gym, do a 30-day hot yoga challenge. Start hiking once a week. Add this activity to your calendar, plan it, schedule it out. Make you physical health a priority. I am not just saying that because I am a Pilates Instructor and a Personal Trainer. I truly believe in the benefits of exercise. Exercise is listed among the first ways to help guard against most aliments in health for a reason.
I am not in anyway trying to trivialize anxiety by saying everyone has some form of it. Mental disorders are a serious thing. I am merely trying to shed light on the fact that anxiety can affect all of us in some way, even if anxiety is a passing thing or something that’s holding you down. I wrote this after battle anxiety for years and watching others I love deal with it and I hope that reading this can help you think a little more about yourself and show yourself some more love and deference. You are wonderful.
“Anxiety Disorders: National Institute of Mental Health; Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
“Why Millennials Have More Anxiety Than any Other Generations” Caroline Cook Retrieved from : http://lovework.standdesk.co/why-millennials-have-more-anxiety-than-other-generations
“Most Millennials Are Finding It Hard to Transition Into Adulthood: Report” Miguel Juarez Lugo; Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/most-millennials-are-finding-it-hard-transition-adulthood-report-n748676
“Surviving Anxiety” Scott Stossel Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/01/surviving_anxiety/355741/
“Millennials Are An Anxious Generation, And This Is Why” Andrew Maguire; Retrieved from https://www.unilad.co.uk/featured/millennials-are-an-anxious-generation-and-this-is-why/
Harvard Medical School, 2007. National Comorbidity Survey (NCS). Retrieved from https://www.hcp.med.harvard.edu/ncs/index.php.
Understand the Facts Retrieved from https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety#
“12 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder” http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20646990,00.html#irrational-fears-0
“Benefits of Exercise” https://medlineplus.gov/benefitsofexercise.html
“Stress Management in Work Settings: A Critical Review of the Health Effects” Lawrence R. Murphy. American Journal of Health Promotion. Vol 11, Issue 2, pp. 112 – 135. First Published November 1, 1996 https://doi.org/10.4278/0890-1171-11.2.112