The world has started to open back up. My friends are texting me for our regular happy hour dates during the week, and weekends for brunch, the celebration of birthdays, and quick road trips. Normalcy had returned to my life, yet last year's effects still linger despite the sun being on the horizon. At the beginning of quarantine, I was coping well. I found activities to do, picked up writing, spent a lot of time binge-watching love island (and other reality tv shows), and hung out with my mom and boyfriend every day. I lived in our bubble and was happy. Then, in the winter, I began developing anxiety. There were a few COVID scares and four or five hospitalizations of my mom. Between that, moving into a new place, and shorter/darker days, I began to develop anxiety and panic attacks for the first time in my life.
I'm a human, so I've always experienced stress but never had panic attacks or anxiety attacks. It got so bad I could expect them to have every night as I went to bed. For a while, I felt helpless, sad and struggled to get myself together. I didn't know if the anxiety would ever go away. And then, I listened to a sleep meditation video on the Bible app. The video calmed my mind before bedtime and eased my worries until I fell asleep. The next night, I listened to it, but I was awake longer to listen to more. The following sentence struck me and hasn't left me since. In a soft tone, the narrator whispered, "the devil whispers lie to you, but they aren't true." As soon as I heard that sentence, I jumped up, put my phone/headphones to the side, and decided to sleep without using the video.
One of the biggest triggers I work on with my therapist is my need for control. My need for control causes my panic, anxiety, and discontent. When I let go of my need to control, everything works better than I could have expected, and I'm happier. Since March, I haven't had a night where I didn't sleep. I also have conquered my anxiety by self-soothing when I feel upset. Below are the 6 tips I've used to help alleviate my stress to live a happier life. I hope these steps help you too.
1.Focus on Positive Things You Can Control
One of the primary triggers for people with anxiety is feeling a lack of control over a situation happening in their lives. That lack of power can result in panic and unnecessary stress.
Puzzles, Cards, Projects
The first thing I began working on to conquer my anxiety for focusing on something I could control positively. For example, during one of my mom's hospital stays, when I was stressed and worried about her health, I began working on puzzles. The puzzles gave me the power to control something and provided me a healthy thing to focus on for a while. You could also try working on a new project, hitting the gym, or doing arts and crafts. Whatever you choose should bring you joy amid hard times and be something you can focus on for an extended period.
I've learned the hard way over the past year that the only thing I control is my perspective and attitude. We can look at the world in one of two ways. Either we look at the world as the glass half full or the glass half empty. (spoiler: the glass half full is more rewarding)
I began looking at each setback or hardship as one of two things; a blessing or a lesson. Either way, I win and grow as a person.
When going through hard times, it's easy to feel like it won't get better or like life is conspiring against you, but if you take a step back, you'll see different ways to view the world, and that is our choice.
2. Accept the Things That Aren't In Your Power
There are just some things that are not in our power as the death of a loved one, illness, or other curveballs we get thrown. It's not our responsibility to change what is but to accept it.
As soon as I began accepting that the pandemic was happening and there was no way to change it, I started going with the flow more. And the more easygoing I am, the happier I am.
Life is a journey, and as I stated in step one, the only thing we really can control is our attitude.
3. Turn to Your Belief System
During my worst anxiety attacks, I turned to my Bible. I began reading it daily, doing my devotional, and praying whenever I had a moment. Even the meditation that helped me sleep and changed my perspective came from the Bible app. My God is number one in my life and has given me peace of mind and the ability to rest easy. I believe everything is working out for my good that has healed me from my stress. Faith has been my cure.
And you don't need to be a Christian to have this same experience. No matter what your faith is, it's essential to turn to it during tumultuous times. Our faith usually has wisdom seeping from the readings and practices that can help us live healthier and better lives.
4. Spend Time With Loved Ones
As soon as I got the vaccine, I saw my best friends in person. I didn't realize how important my friends and family were to me until I couldn't see them for a year. Whether it's a grandparent, friend, or cousin, whoever is essential to you should be your support system for when you have anxiety. Tell the people you love about what you're experiencing and let them support you.
** I want to preface this advice by letting people in that you know will be supportive. Although mental health care is more accepted now within society, some people still have toxic ideals about handling it. If you think someone your love may not be the best choice to share with, don't. Pick the people that will show you love, empathy, understanding, and grace.
5. Focus on Joy + Gratitude
We all have things in our lives that bring us joy. We also all have things we can be grateful for whether we are or not. During my tough times, I started a gratitude journal. My journal was a laundry list of all the things I had to be grateful for. When I felt down, I'd open it up and read it for a quick morale boost.
Try focusing on your constructive joy like watching your favorite tv shows, spending time with people you love, or reading literature. Also, try creating a gratitude journal and opening it up when you need a boost of happiness. When we focus on these things, our minds become at ease, bringing more satisfaction to ourselves. *** Be careful not to make drinking, drugs, or other possibly harmful behaviors our sources of joy. Though it may feel fun for a moment, these are all examples of temporary fillers that can leave you worse than how you began. I stay away from all drugs all the time and don't drink alcohol when I'm not in a good space.
6. Talk To A Therapist
I have a therapist, and I love her (shoutout to Cecelia!). There's no shame in talking to someone about what you're experiencing and getting support. Therapists are here to be of service to us, support our healing and give us coping mechanisms to live healthily.
If you are searching for a therapist, try these Instagram pages for resources:
And of course!!!!
Remember that these tips aren't quick fixes but tools we can use whenever we need them. With Care,