Anxiety has truly wreaked havoc on my life. To feel as if every moment is an impending disaster has been heartbreaking and extremely challenging. Mornings are usually the hardest part of the day. Waking up with feelings of fear and dread is very draining.
The feelings of stress mixed with uncertainty constantly coursing through my veins were throwing my entire world out of whack. I couldn’t focus on much else. Everything felt like it was crashing around me.
Recently, I have felt inspired to do something about my anxiety and have been trying out different techniques and ways to alleviate it.
I started meditating for longer than I was before. Going from 5 minutes to 15 to 30. I started doing this every single day in the morning before starting work.
I even tried looking more into my past to figure out why I was struggling so much with my mental health. This has helped me, somewhat, in identifying certain patterns that may have stemmed from my childhood, but it hasn’t provided me with all of the answers.
I had a fine childhood overall but witnessed a lot of disputes between my parents. I remember a lot of shouting, cursing, and crying. I was a very shy, introverted child, and I still have to nurture that little girl inside of me.
The little Razane who is scared and wondering why her mother is sobbing on the kitchen floor is still here, except now she’s questioning her every decision and trying to navigate herself in an overly extroverted world.
I never had the best of mindsets and it has taken me years of work to build a positive outlook on life. I’ve learned that what we tell ourselves can affect not only our mindsets but also our anxiety levels.
“I’m not good enough.”
“I can’t do this anymore.”
“Why do I always mess things up?”
I was waking up every morning and starting my day with these phrases, then wondering why I still wasn’t feeling any better. But then I realized that I also wasn’t giving myself space to fully process these thoughts and associated negative feelings.
I remember waking up with a heavy feeling in my chest and carrying this weight along with me throughout the day, struggling to unload it anywhere or on anyone. It was mine to hold and suffer with, I thought.
This heavy feeling would follow me to bed and I would toss and turn unable to sleep. Sometimes I was concerned, wondering if I might actually be having a heart attack!
After months and eventually years, this heavy feeling became an integral part of me. I had grown accustomed to it over time, which scared me.
One of the things that have helped me immensely has been keeping track of my negative thoughts. I use Evernote to write a bit about each time I feel stressed, fearful, or uncertain about something going on in my life.
So much of the time, the things we worry about seem so much bigger in our heads than they actually are. I like to just write out how I’m feeling, let it sit there for a bit as I go about my day or week, then I go back to it and reflect on how it all went.
Usually, the problem or worry ends up being solved and all that is left to do is to write out how I solved it and what I learned from the experience.
If an issue isn’t resolved, I look at what I tried to do to solve it, then brainstorm what new approaches I could try in the following days.
I find that making progress, even if it means not discovering the right solution immediately, helps calm and focus me. Rather than dwelling on the issue at hand and all the reasons why I can’t fix it, I try to focus instead on what I can do with what I have.
Of course, this doesn’t always go as planned, and I still have a list of problems to sort out, but the most important thing is to keep going. Many of us come from broken homes and difficult pasts that have affected us negatively since we were children. But this doesn’t mean that tomorrow can’t be better.
No matter how bad today may have been, I always hope that tomorrow will be better. It’s been a long journey, and I’m definitely still a work in progress, but I can now find a way to be optimistic in even the darkest of my moments.