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Anxiety Tips

In my last post, I explained some triggers for anxiety.  Dealing with anxiety myself, I was able to see some of the five biggest reasons for anxiety coming on and coming on strong.

As stated before, I have high functioning anxiety.  However, there are multiple types of anxiety that range from looking completely normal to outsiders to not being able to leave your house or enjoy social outings.  So how does one function or overcome anxiety?

Honestly, I don’t know if I can say you completely “beat” it, but you are able to cope with it.  One of my longest friends has dealt with anxiety for years, but it worsened when she was hit hard with depression as well.  She felt helpless and didn’t know where to turn.  As I spoke with her this week, she followed some of the same tips I did when my anxiety seemed out of control.  After a month, she was able to have a positive conversation and see the importance of mental health.  Is this a cure all post? Absolutely not.  However, I wanted to provide some tips for those who may not know where to turn, what do do, or how to get their mental health under control.

Included are 5 tips to help you cope with anxiety.

  1. Breathing Techniques–While in counseling and even seeing medical doctors, I found that breathing techniques became a way to give me a moment of peace.  Sure, it didn’t cure the anxiety, but it gave me a moment of help when things were hectic.  The saying “just breath” makes every single person with anxiety want to hit you over the head with a frying pan.  Learning how to breathe is a different story.  Counting to ten did NOTHING for me.  Alright, 1,2,3….this does nothing. For some it helps, but I found focusing on my breathing was what I needed.  Deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.  The breathing was quick and short when I started.  I had to learn how to take in deep breaths and zone out everything else.  Only my breathing.  I also found that sticking my head between my knees while breathing truly helped.  It calmed down my heart rate, lessened any dizziness, and I could focus on just my needs.  Instead of focusing on my anxiety, I would purposefully turn my thoughts to something positive.  It wasn’t easy at first.  Plain and simple.  It takes time folks.  You have to retrain your brain how to think and even your body on how to respond.     breathing gif
  2. Therapy/Counseling-Going to talk to someone about your problems at a large financial rate seems silly and pointless to many individuals.  Why should I tell someone else about my problems?  They can’t help me.  Talking about it won’t do a thing, I need actions.  Well, for some individuals, this is a life saving action. Therapy and counseling has changed over the years as well.  Sure, you can talk to someone one-on-one or even in a group setting.  However, mobile apps, texting, video chats, email, and online chats can be a form of help as well.  If you’re unconfortable meeting with someone (especially those with social anxiety) try a form of email, phone call, or even texting at first.  Let me stress this though–mental health apps are not an alternative for professional therapy, but it can help with day-to-day issues and stress.  Going to therapy was a big step for me.  An embarrassing step to be completely honest.  It took almost 6 months before I saw results.  One session does not fix years of anxiety and stress.  Yet, I saw results. Going and seeing a professional was a life changing experience for my mental health.  I no longer saw it as a weakness, but strength because I was reaching out and asking for help.  My therapist gave me techniques and tips for managing my anxiety (many that I’m sharing with you), and gave me “homework” to do at home to help with my specific issues.  If you’re sick or have a physical problem, we go to a doctor.  If you’re having problems with your mental health, go see a mental health doctor.  There is no shame.                                                     therapy gif 1
  3. Media Hiatus-Why does taking a social media break help those with anxiety? Well, recent studies have found that social media has changed peoples lives…and not for the good.  More people have reported feeling worried and/or uncomfortable when media outlets are not accessible.  People panic without their phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. The fear of “missing out” on something increases, and, believe it or not, social media is more addictive than cigarettes. Social media prevents individuals from even sleeping!  Those with anxiety are more prone to compare their lives to everyone around them and despair when it is not living up to this fictional picture.  Yes, I say fictional.  Marriage is not always perfect.  Your house, not perfect.  Your life, not perfect.  However, through the lens of social media and picture filters, everyone else looks perfect.  As stated in my previous post as well, this makes a perfectionist’s anxiety go through the roof.  Take a break from social media!  When my anxiety was at it’s highest, I shutdown my Facebook for 40 days.  Woah!  Tough, but as each day went by, it became easier and easier.  I didn’t care about someone liking my post or photos.  My relationship with my husband (at that time fiancé) became closer, and my anxiety slowly lessened as I couldn’t compare my life with those around me or worry about how many likes I may receive.  Although it causes anxiety for some at the beginning, it’s almost a time of rehab and getting a true reality check.   Read more here.                               social media 1 gif
  4. Body–Part of anxiety includes multiple aspects of taking care of your body! So what should you do/try?
    • Exercise–Not only does exercise help you become healthier and stronger, but it also releases endorphins, which triggers positive feelings into the body.
    • Eating Healthy–Eating better helps clear up your skin, keep your mind sharp, and give you energy for the day.  Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy snacks for energy boosts throughout the day.  With anxiety, comes indulging in junk food or “comfort” food, not eating, or eating too much.  Find a food that is healthy and you like.  This is probably one of the hardest aspects of life to change, but it can help you balance and control the anxiety.
    • Sleep–Aim towards 8 hours of sleep each night.  Oh no.  Definitely difficult with anxiety as I stated in my previous post.  So what should you do/try?  Limit screen time before bed and even turn it off completely. Do NOT check social media in the middle of the night.  Again, turn it off.  Have your phone set for only your alarm and emergency calls.  Try a few things before bed like reading, listening to music (I prefer classical or instrumentals), yoga, and breathing techniques.  Set a routine.  We do this to our children, why not yourself?  Set a bedtime and stick to it.  Again, it will be difficult in the beginning, but over the weeks you will see results.
    • Limit caffeine and alcohol–these two can trigger or aggravate anxiety.  Drink more water instead!                                                                                       exercise gif
  5. Medicine–This is always a touchy topic.  Why?  Some people think that medicine shouldn’t be used to treat mental health.  Others don’t want to depend on medicine for the rest of their lives.  Some are simply embarrassed at the idea.  My experience with anxiety medicine–it took the edge off, but I needed the other four tips from above too.  A small pill (with a low dose) did not fix me over night.  The side effects of the medicine did not settle well with my body, and I had to adjust my dosage and type of medicine to combat that issue as well.  For some individuals, medicine helps and gets them to a place where they can fully manage the anxiety.  Others don’t need it.  I am NOT a medical professional.  Speak with your doctor first on this issue.  They will know how to help you in the best way!

 

Will all of these steps heal your anxiety? Probably not.  Can they help? Yes.  Give them a try and see the results.  Worse case scenario, it doesn’t work.  On the other hand, it may just help you and your mental health.

xoxo

Your Wanderer

Continue reading “Anxiety Tips”

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Living with High Functioning Anxiety

Let’s talk about anxiety.  High functioning anxiety.

Why?

  • Women are more likely to experience anxiety.
  • People from North America and Western Europe are more likely to be affected by anxiety.
  • Anxiety affects 18.1% of adults in the U.S.
  • Estimates of 30% of people don’t seek help
  • Around 10% of those with anxiety…seek effective help.

As a teacher and traveler, I find myself battling with anxiety.  No.  I’m not talking about stress and I smack a label on it with anxiety.  I don’t go around telling every individual that I struggle with anxiety.  Sure, I talk about awareness with friends and family, but I don’t use my anxiety as an excuse at work or even at home.

There are so many types of anxiety disorders too: general anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, etc.

I have High Functioning Anxiety.  So what’s it like?  Truly like? What are triggers?

  1. Restlessness–The brain does NOT shut off.  This is a common symptom for people with anxiety, and women.  Why women?  Well, studies show that a woman’s brain chemistry is different and hormone fluctuations are also linked to anxiety.  Women are more prone to stress, react differently to their life events, and think deeply about stressors.  Bingo.  A person with high functioning anxiety can look calm as a cucumber on the surface, but inside their brain is going a million miles a minute.
  2. Time–I have found that people with anxiety focus on time.  They need to be on time.  They watch that clock. “I’m late!” is a common phrase…even though they arrive 15 minutes early to everything.  Time can be an anxiety trigger.  Being with a group of people that are running late? Anxiety triggered.  Someone else running late which affects a meeting or schedule? Anxiety triggered.          i'm late
  3. Personality Type–Although anxiety hits all types of personalities, I do find it interesting that type A individuals are more likely to be affected by stress-related illnesses.  Type A people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease.  Type A is achievement oriented, high-strung, intense, high individual expectations, and put high demands on themselves.  Can you see this as a recipe for trouble?  However, many personality types have traits and potentials for anxiety.  Read more here: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/10/anxiety-and-personality-type/
  4. Sleep–Those with anxiety struggle with sleep.  Shocker? No.  Yet, you may hear that these people sleep waaaay more than the average person.  Here’s the thing–it’s not solid sleep.  It’s sleep that is riddled with dreams, waking up, and even panic attacks.  That doesn’t sound like a restful sleep to me.  So remember that your anxious friend may not be sleeping through the night and is realistically getting less sleep than you due to constantly waking up or laying in bed without actually falling asleep.                                                                                                                                                              can't sleep
  5. Silent–High functioning anxiety can be hard to detect.  Why? We look just fine and dandy on the outside.  Inside is where we are having an inner monologue that is freaking out.  I have quite a few close friends, a large family, a husband, and positive relationships with my co-workers.  Who can tell when my anxiety hits? My father and sometimes my husband.  It’s not many people. My heart races.  I zone out.  I’m caught in my own thoughts.  I need to be alone.  I feel fatigued, even dizzy.  My brain races. Chest tightens. These anxiety attacks last a few minutes to over an hour.  They feel never ending.  Yet, these symptoms are silent to those around me.  This is the hardest type of anxiety to detect.
  6. Perfectionist–Ah, perfectionism.  Maybe it’s my inner teacher, but this need and want has never left.  Those who struggle with perfectionism find themselves with anxiety at times.  Why?  That stack of papers over there needs to graded or at least filed properly.  Files are color coded.  Everything is labeled with the help of a label maker and in alphabetical order.  There is a specific place for everything. Unrealistic perfectionism can increase anxiety and, interestingly, they enhance one another.  Perfectionism leads to ideas of not being good enough or fearing mistakes. All or nothing thinking increases the anxiety, and most perfectionists see things as absolutes. Perfectionism is a major trigger (and even part of) anxiety. https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2014/05/the-link-between-perfectionism-and-anxiety/.                    perfect

So what do I do?  I plan to write another blog soon to give some tips on how to handle anxiety.  No, I’m not a psychiatrist or doctor, but I do struggle with anxiety.  Guess what? I also received help by a trained professional.  Getting help was one of the hardest and best things I ever did for my mental health.  Did the anxiety disappear? Absolutely not!  Was I able to handle it better? Yes.

Remember my teacher and traveling friends–take care of YOU.  Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

“The thing about an anxiety disorder is that you know it is stupid. You know with all your heart that it wasn’t a big deal and that it should roll off of you. But that is where the disorder kicks in. Suddenly the small things is very big and it keeps growing in your head, flooding your chest, and trying to escape from under your skin. You know with all of your heart that you’re being ridiculous and you hate every minute of it.”

xoxo

Your Wander

Continue reading “Living with High Functioning Anxiety”

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Traveling Italy Questions

As I have stated in previous posts, my husband and I will be traveling to Italy in the summer of 2018.  We are beyond thrilled.  The flight and hotel are booked.  We are staying less than a mile away from the Trevi Fountain and Colosseum.

Since I have started blogging, I’ve noticed lots of traffic from individuals in other countries (even those from Italy).  So, I am asking so kindly for some advice, tips, and help.  Furthermore, I promise to mention your comments and recommendations here once we visit.  I have done much research in the past few months, but I trust locals more than a few ads on the computer.  Sure, I know how to dress in the churches and simple Italian phrases to get me by, but I want to know about the hidden tips, best food places, and what everyone should see on their first trip to Rome.

So…I have 5 days in Italy.  One day for Florence and one day in the Vatican.  The other three days are completely devoted to Rome.  Here are my questions that I’m hoping you as my reader will help me out:

  1. Where are the best places to eat in Rome?  You know…the places the locals actually go and are not filled with tourists.                        tourists
  2. What are the absolute must see sites in Rome (or around) and Florence?       florence
  3. What should every new traveler experience during their Italian getaway?         Rome_animated_intro
  4. Any hidden tips or help when visiting the Vatican?                 St.-Peters-Basilica-Vatican-City
  5. What is something you wish tourists knew and what helps a tourist blend in as much as possible?                                                          tourist gif

 

As always, thank you for your help folks.  Your input helps us all when traveling abroad!

xoxo

Your Wanderer