How do you deal with anxiety and chronic stress? Are you like most people who find everyday life difficult to handle because of the sheer amount of bad people, unfair circumstances and feeling like someone seems to get into your nerves?
Welcome to Day 1 of Self Care Made Possible Series. This is a free, 30-day blog series to empower you to be the best version of yourself by applying simple and practical strategies that I learned in Psychology and through my personal experience with anxiety and depression.
If you’re dealing with anxiety and or chronic stress, tell me in the comments below what strategies have you tried that works well for you. I would really love to know!
1. Accept that you’re different from other people
You have to accept the fact that you’re a sensitive person. If you have anxiety then something is wrong with you, let me tell right now you are normal just a little different in the sense that you’re triggered emotionally (and easily) unlike other people.
2. Stop pleasing other people
Fitting in to someone else’s mold is the easiest way to worsen your anxiety, don’t you know that people will say what they want to say and do what they want to do regardless of your feelings? We live in a world where (some) people just don’t care.
You have got to learn to DO YOU and cling on to your own strengths and not be dependent on other people. This easier said than done, however, I believe through small steps you can do that.
3. Acknowledge past failures and fears
When I was in therapy (and it took me years to get my butt in there!) The therapist said that I’m triggered by certain events and let me tell you, back then I have no idea why.
The sessions helped realized that the bullying that I experienced in school, the betrayal, the heartbreaks and rejections are still in my subconscious mind and stored in my long-term memory because it depicts pain.
So, this is how it works as per my understanding.
When you experience pain, your brain will remembers that and since its primary job is to keep you alive (survival) it will hinder you to do the things that may end up with the same result.
A friend of mine was cheated on by her boyfriend for 10 years. She was expecting ring the night they met on a cafeteria for their 10th anniversary but instead of a ring, the guy told her that he was seeing somebody else and been cheating on her for a long time. Yikes.
My friend was devastated! Even if she dated multiple guys after the breakup, she always end up scared because for some reason she thinks that …”the next guy might cheat as well”.
Did you get the point?
Alright, so what does this have to do with anxiety or stress?
When you remember your past fears and failures, your body will contract, your heart will pump blood fast and you sweat a little….you feel tense, thinking the same event might occur and you need to get out of the situation fast.
What I’ve learned is to just let go.
If someone caused you pain, know that it’s in the past and you are now okay. They’ve hurt you before why are you still carrying that pain now and sabotaging your present life? The people who hurt you probably is enjoying his life right now and you’re still miserable. That is doing yourself a major disservice.
4. Stop being a control freak
Are you that person who always want to control everything? How your house looks? how your husband will react in front of other people? how your kids should behave? how everything should be in a “certain way” just for you to be happy?
I don’t know about you but that’s exhausting.
Did you get the memo? It goes like this: You can’t control everything and trying so hard causes you to feel anxious and stressed out all the time. If you haven’t realized, being a control freak also causes tension in a relationship.
There’s one time when my husband and I went outside the country to travel. Everything from food to clothing was taken care of. Insert another problem (trying to be the perfect wife!) and few minutes later, I saw him having a very serious, almost nerve-wracking phone conversation. That in itself activates my anxiety!!
I was like…”honey, what’s wrong?”
He said: “Uhmm…here’s the thing, the hotel said they were fully booked and so…”
By this time my face turned red and my heart is pumping so fast and I started panicking…”what’s their problem? we reserved the rooms two weeks ago! this can’t happen..”
He said: “yeah, but they said it’s fully booked now and there might be some misunderstanding so we need to find a new hotel to stay in then they will just refund our money.”
Let me tell you, I wasn’t able to sleep during the entire flight and kept thinking of how the hell are we gonna find a hotel when it’s peak season and do we even have enough cash?
Thoughts go round and round on my head…non stop.
You see, I also overthink a LOT. I don’t enjoy it actually. It triggers everything from past fear (#3) and (#2) trying to be the perfect wife as if I can control everything.
This event (and may others) taught me that you can’t really control everything!
5. Being a perfectionist is not a skill
This ties down to #2 people other people and the root is really, you don’t feel good enough. Some people confuse perfectionism with doing an excellent work, please don’t get it twisted.
When you’re a perfectionist, you worry that your work is never good enough to your own standards or other people (maybe your boss) and this creates a vicious cycle of not getting things done which ends up triggering your anxiety and causes you to stress out.
I saw this amazing video called “The Perfectionist Trap” which says…
“We typically aim for a particular career because we have been deeply impressed by the exploits of the most accomplished practitioners in the field.
We formulate our ambitions by admiring the beautiful structures of the architect tasked with designing the city’s new airport, or by following the intrepid trades of the wealthiest Wall Street fund manager, by reading the analyses of the acclaimed literary novelist or sampling the piquant meals in the restaurant of a prize-winning chef.
We form our career plans on the basis of perfection. Then, inspired by the masters, we take our own first steps and trouble begins. What we have managed to design, or make in our first month of trading, or write in an early short story, or cook for the family is markedly and absurdly, beneath the standard that first sparked our ambitions.
We who are so aware of excellence end up the least able to tolerate mediocrity – which in this case, happens to be our own….”
6. Fill your own cup first
You know what I’ve realized with years of dealing with anxiety? It all comes down to one thing and that is, you should you really love yourself first. I find that often, women who struggle with anxiety and (mostly) stress are doing so much for other people not because they want to but because they thought they supposed to.
Here’s some of the things that I’m sure you can relate.
You are supposed to be the one who takes care of the house and the kids and oh, no one cares if you work full time as well or that you have to manage the finances, the family travel and the other million things.
Because ofcourse, you’re just nice.
Sorry to bust your bubble, being nice can sometimes be a weakness in which people takes advantage of your kindness just to get what they want.
And hey, the example with the family setup can be true for you, but if you’re happy “doing it all” you go girl and live your life! I’m talking about those other million things that you are not supposed to do (but felt obligated to) because you’re afraid that people will judge you.
Take care of yourself, no one can do that for you.
That’s it for Day 1 of Self Care Made Possible Series!
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