My Journey With Anxiety And How I Have Reduced It
Here is something many of you might not know about me: I have battled anxiety since around the age of 8. In elementary school I started waking up with it. In spring and wintertime I would only calm down if I ate my breakfast outside. There was just something about being outside, close to nature and the fresh air that would bring me back to my norm.
Anxiety has come and gone throughout my life at different times. During university was probably when I suffered the worst, and also directly after leaving my last job in the hospitality & tourism industry (what I initially went to school for).
I remember being so anxious at times, that I couldn't move. I would almost feel paralyzed.
I would go through weeks where the anxiety just wouldn't go away. I would struggle to fall asleep at night, eat or function optimally.
Looking back at what I was doing differently in university and at my first real job: I was eating horribly; living on Tim Hortons coffee and bagels; pulling all-nighters for school; working part-time jobs; living off of sugar; partying way too often; spending time with some really toxic people; trying to be someone else; and acting as a BIG FAT people pleaser 24/7. The anxiety that would come from trying to please others because I was afraid that they wouldn't like me was pretty crazy.
Does this remind you of anyone?
I was not doing much for my well-being and it was definitely showing! None of these activities were in any way helping me to combat anxiety. To make matters worse, I rarely spoke out about it. My mom was always aware, but at times I don't think she knew just how bad it would get (except for maybe when my first long term boyfriend broke up with me, I think she knew then). It wasn't until my fourth year at Ryerson University when I took a class about mental illness called 'The History of Madness' that I felt like I could be more open about anxiety and mental illness. If I recall correctly, this was also the first year of the Bell Let's Talk campaign. The stigma behind mental illness was just starting to dissipate.
This spring I went live on Facebook to talk about my history with anxiety. This was really the first time that I had ever spoken about it publicly rather than just amongst close friends and family members. Interestingly enough, this is one of my most viewed videos to date. Why? Because anxiety and other mental illnesses are extremely prevalent in today's society. You are absolutely not alone!
In Canada alone, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health or addiction problem in any given year. By the time Canadians reach the age of 40, 1 in 2 have suffered from mental illness. Wow!
40% of respondents to a 2016 survey said they have experienced feelings of anxiety or depression but never sought medical help for it (1).
A few years ago I had a real awakening. I realized that I just couldn't live that way anymore. I was in a constant state of fear and anxiety that was not allowing me to move forward or feel good overall. I knew that I needed to spend some serious time loving myself. I think one of the main reasons that I have been able to overcome so much of my anxiety is that I learned to love myself and let shit go rather than let it build up inside (from time to time, swearing can be very therapeutic!). Over the past two years I've taken time to love and work on myself both physically and mentally. I've made changes in my life, some big and some small.
Here are a few things that I have started doing over the past year. they might just help you or someone in your life.
- Learned to love myself and everything that I am.
- Practice gratitude daily (this journal helped me get started!).
- Meditate daily (first thing in the morning has been extremely rewarding).
- Learned to LET SHIT GO!
- Stopped being a BIG FAT people pleaser.
- Stopped trying to be someone else.
- Spent time on personal development (books, audios, seminars - here's my current fave book!).
- Stopped comparing myself to others (this one still creeps up from time to time).
- Surrounded myself with people that bring my energy up and not suck it out of me. People that support what I do.
- Spent time in nature (great for grounding). As a kid I spent a lot of time outside at summer camp and up north on Lake Huron. Nature and water are extremely calming to me.
- Eliminated dairy and gluten from my diet (only for the most part. I don't have these at home.)
- Consistently took a high-quality daily multivitamin
- Vitamin D supplementation (in particular, during the dark winter months)
- Increased consumption of probiotic rich foods and a probiotic supplement (gut health is key!)
- Increased good fats in my diet
- Managed blood sugar spikes and drops
- Decreased alcohol consumption
- MOVEMENT - getting outside for a walk, the gym, yoga or dancing...with myself... :)
- SLEEP! Yes, we all know that sleep is important for you, but do you really get enough? I sure didn't!
I have written this post to share my anxiety journey with you. I truly feel that I have been as raw and transparent as I set out to be when I chose this topic. I am not 100% anxiety free - sometimes I feel it creep up a little, but I now know how to listen to my body and manage it better. The stigma behind mental illness has decreased substantially, but there are still so many people out there hiding what they deal with on a daily basis because they are scared or don't think they have anyone to talk to.
What I hope is that you as the reader can utilize what I have shared here and help yourself or someone else in need.
If you would like to check out the video I shared back in the spring, you'll find it below!
To help keep the conversation going, share this post and video ♡.
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Affiliate programs that I am a part of include Mabrook & Co., Four Sigmatic and Amazon.com.
(1) CAMH. Mental Illness and Addictions: Facts and Statistics. Retrieved from
http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/newsroom/for_reporters/Pages/addictionmentalhealthstatistics.aspx. October 6, 2017.