Crown The Brown: Anxiety – Personal aggravating factors & coping mechanisms. Have you ever feel short of breath? Find yourself hyperventilating, your heart racing, feeling as if it may just jump straight out of your chest? Then you, my friend, have symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety on its’ own usually includes constant overthinking and wanting to do something you have always wanted to do whilst overthinking it to such an extent that you end up anxious at the thought of doing it. You somehow end up convincing yourself that you’re going to fail or be bad at it. Trust me, I can relate!
Social anxiety include symptoms of not wanting to be in a crowded room and declining invitations to parties and events. Similarly, because you’re somehow convinced you; either won’t fit in, will be judged, or just not know how to cope being around so many people.
Because you know, unfortunately, we live in the generation of Social Media where we unfortunately compare ourselves to others and their ‘beautiful lives’.
We find ourselves thinking:
- I wish I looked like that, because they are so beautiful and are now considered an ‘Influencer’. Getting the acknowledgement, accolades, compliments and free shit that we, as humans so badly desire.
- Wishing I had a life like that, because they just get to travel all the time and don’t even work, do they?
- I wish I had a job like theirs. So I can earn enough money to live a life like that, and drive a car like that, and live in a house like that.
- Maybe if I try hard enough to up my “following” I’ll get the acknowledgement I need.
- Wow, look at them, they really are living the #bestlives, and here I am with my, so called, mediocre job and ‘normal’ life. My 9-5 job isn’t fulfilling enough for me to have a life like them
Well let me tell you, that unfortunately not everything you see on Social Media is true. Many of these said people are actually lonely, sad, and depressed on the inside and very often suffer from a mental illness of their own. Be it Narcissistic personality disorder, Bipolar, or Depression and Anxiety itself. Yet we think we’re the one’s who need therapy and professional help.
Comparison is the thief of joy
Comparing yourself to these people and to others who may seem to be ‘in a better, more attractive situation than you’ is a serious cause of anxiety and depression. Your happiness comes from within. To appreciate the things you have around you. Being grateful for everything that you do have in your life right now.
My personal examples of these simple things would be:
- Waking up in the morning. Actually, having the ability to live another day and do what you do, because there are people out there who may not wake up this morning.
- Having food to eat, because there are people out there who have none, and have to live on one loaf of bread for a whole week and feed a family of 5.
- Having family members that you can call, and speak to, and know that you will receive the most amount of love in return from them.
- Being grateful for actually having a job, or the ability to study, or working towards one. Because there are people who will NEVER have this opportunity.
- Being grateful for your friends, people whom you know you can call at any moment and they will be there for you. Love you unconditionally, give you all the accreditation you deserve.
- Having the ability to love, and appreciate the world around you. Because trust me, these people on Social Media or in life that you compare yourselves too, majority of the time, are just worried about themselves, and lack empathy towards others, and the ability to appreciate the little things in life.
Above all, let’s address the anxiety that this may cause, because most of the time we think to ourselves before doing a task, or something we’ve always wanted to do, is “shit, I’ll never be able to match up to them”.
Well, you’ll never know until you try right? And if you fail…try again, and if you fail, try again. Consistency in whatever you do in your life is key to success.
And NEVER measure your own success to someone else and their so called ‘better lives’. Because let me tell you, that the only person you should EVER compare yourself to, is the person you were yesterday. If you improve, in whatever you do, even by 1% the next day, you have accomplished something that MANY people haven’t.
Now let’s address a few coping mechanisms I personally use when I find myself reaching that dark space. Similarly, when I am feeling overly anxious. These may differ from person to person, however they work for me and these are just suggestions from me to you:
- Close your eyes, and take five deep breaths. In through your nose, hold for 3 seconds, and breathe out slowly through your mouth.
- Envision yourself breathing out the actual anxious/depressive feelings themselves.
- Keep going if you find this making you feel better!
2. SWITCH OFF YOUR ELECTRONICS, FOCUS ON YOUR SURROUNDINGS
- Notice 5 things that you can see and acknowledge them to yourself
- Then go on to find 5 things that you can touch that are close to you. Feel them, their texture, their temperature and what the object is itself
- Close your eyes again and listen…listen carefully and find a few things that you can hear. Be it a printer in your office, or a bird outside, or some music in the distance, and really pay attention to it and focus your mind 100% on this sound and again, acknowledge it to yourself.
- Again, with your eyes closed, take note of things that you smell at that present moment.
- Eat something, or put a sweet or snack in your mouth, and really taste each flavor and again, acknowledge them to yourself.
3. COMMUNICATE WITH OTHERS
- Pick up your phone, and call a close family member and just speak to them. Ask them how their day was, tell them about yours, make plans to meet up at some point!
- Call your parents if you can, or grandparents if you’re blessed enough to still have them. It will instantly make you realize how much you mean to people in this world and how important you are.
4. PET AN ANIMAL!!!
- If you own a dog, cat, bunny, or any furry friend, then go and spend time with them.
- Take your dog for a walk, cuddle your kitten, or even feed your fish and talk to the little buggers.
- Either way your mind will be soothed and you will feel calmer afterwards. Whenever I’m anxious I just play with my dogs’ ears, because they’re soft, and velvety, and he just loves it!
5. BE MORE ACTIVE
- Do some form of physical activity. Go for a brisk walk, or jog. Or go to the gym if you can. Physical difficulty is directly related to the release of endorphins and serotonin (the feel good hormone) in your brain which directly impacts how you feel physically.
- The BEST advice I can give anyone who suffers from depression or anxiety, is to exercise.
- Set yourself small goals; walk 2km, jog 2km without stopping, reaching a new personal record on your bench press or squat if you’re a gym goer, because you WILL feel better about yourselves when you reach these small goals.
- Just remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and consistency is KEY!
- This goes without saying. Referring to my previous article around the stigmas of therapy.
- It WILL help you, it WILL empower you, and it WILL provide you with the tools to realize that there is a superhero within us all, we just need to find them!
Furthermore from my side, I would like to leave you with this. There is ALWAYS a light at then end of the tunnel, even if you may not see that light right now. Never give up hope, seek help if you need to, or even just talk to a trusted friend. I, personally know what it’s like to be in such a dark space that, you think that not being on this earth would actually be a solution.
It’s 2019 my friends. Speak up, don’t EVER compare yourself to someone else besides yourself, and realize that no matter what you may think or feel; there are people out there who love you, who rely on you, and who need you and who think you are amazing. There most likely are people out there comparing their own lives to YOURS, and wishing they had what you have.
Onwards and Upwards! – Dr. Devin Chetty