Can I please get a show of hands for all of my people out there that struggle with anxiety?? I know I can’t be the only one and I also know it’s kind of a taboo thing to talk about right?? But it has to be said. Anxiety is real and it affects so very many of us. Type A personalities (raise your hand!) tend to have a hard time shutting off our brains and sometimes that can run us right into a panic attack.
I know all too well the nights staring at the ceiling praying for my brain to just stop thinking. I look at my husband (who does not have anxiety but is 1000% God’s gift to me in my struggles with it) sleeping so soundly and wish I could just go to sleep! Many times I will finally give in after a few hours and go hang out on the couch with some Netflix just so my brain can think of anything else except my to-do list, or a bride’s upcoming design or the taxes or global warming or the astronauts on the space station or any of the 2 trillion other things we have decided to consider at 3 am! What?? Why oh why must all of these thoughts come as soon as our heads hit the pillow??
My mother had pretty severe anxiety most of her childhood and into mine, so she’s always tried to help me to understand what triggers mine and how to cope on my own. It’s always been super important to me to try to use coping mechanisms vs. medication…I’m not at all opposed to the medication, it’s just never felt right for me. I have a feeling it’s the control freak deep inside!
Anyway, over the last 10 years, I’ve really begun to get a handle on coping with my anxiety. Every once in a while I’ll let it get away from me and I’ll need to back up and re-set but I wanted to share a few of the tips I use to keep mine under control as often as possible!
Knowledge is Key! Many times, the source of my anxiety is a valid concern bathed in the unknown. For example: “Are we going to make enough sales this year?” Valid concern. Likely causing me anxiety because I haven’t taken time to run a year over year comparison report yet to see how we are pacing to the same time the year before. If I just take a few minutes to go look at the report I will be able to clearly see how up or down we are and make a plan to move forward (in the daylight hours!).
Brain Breaks are Necessary! I know that it’s necessary for me to give my brain a break each day with a check out from all of the things! On an especially busy or stressful day, I need to take 20 minutes to mentally check out. Sometimes this will be a dance party in my car (if you’ve ever driven down 408 behind me you’ve likely seen this!) or sometimes it will be sticking in an AirPod and getting out in our yard. It’s just giving my brain the space to separate from all of the crazy that is going on and fill it up with something healthy and fun!
Sleep is Your Friend! I know I literally just said that anxiety is the root of lack of sleep but have you ever noticed that they actually kind of feed each other?? When I push myself to work late to meet a deadline or I overfill my days and have to burn the midnight oil to catch up, my oh-so-tired brain goes into overdrive and the thoughts of all of the things start to run through like a freight train. The train of thoughts keeps me from sleeping and then the lack of sleeping leads to more crazy thoughts. Sometimes this can go on for almost a week before I can start to get myself back in balance and honestly, zombie boss/mom/wife does not have so many friends. I try really really hard to get myself in bed after our girls go to bed. As a business owner, it is super challenging to stick to this when the to-do list gets long but I am useless to my staff, my clients and my family in an exhausted state. Getting to bed by 10-10:30 pm each night allows me to get the rest I need to be my best the next day!
Speak Up! 99% of the time when I say out loud what has been keeping me up for hours or what has sent me into a complete panic attack, I realize it is completely ludicrous and often, the attack will literally end right there. The problem is, most of the time we don’t want to admit we’re anxious or having a panic attack so we say nothing. And the thoughts just compound. As I mentioned before, my husband doesn’t really understand anxiety because he doesn’t struggle with it but he has seen me through so many sleepless nights that he’s become a master. He is so incredible at waking up (like really waking up, not just barely with one eye open) and talking to me about what’s got me stirred. And 9 times out of 10 once I just say the thoughts out loud it’s like they disappear. I realize how bizarre they are as it comes out of my mouth and its almost as if the fear goes out with the words. Find a trusted friend, a spouse, a family member that you can talk to in a judgment-free zone. And believe them when they tell you they really want to help. I always try to get Ira to just go back to sleep so we won’t both be exhausted the next morning but he refuses to leave me alone. (I know…he’s a keeper!!).
I genuinely hope some of these tips will help you if panic attacks and/or anxiety are something you experience. I can tell you it’s by far the most frustrating thing I deal with and I’m determined to do anything I can to keep the flare-ups from happening. They lead to such a quick feeling of out of control that I hate more than anything!
I would love to know any tips you’ve found that work for you?? Do you know your triggers? Are you able to cut them off before they show their ugly face?? Share your secrets with me so we can keep our bag of tricks full to fight this hairy beast!!