How I Manage Anxiety in Healthy Ways

Hello everyone! Did you have a wonderful weekend? I know that I did and I'll tell you all about later this week. Right now I'm in the wonderful land of Las Vegas, so my fabulous friend Kate is here to keep you company while I'm gone. Kate's going to talk to you today about something plenty of us out there deal with on a daily basis. Without further ado, here's Kate! Take it away, girl :)

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Thank you Erica for inviting me to share my thoughts on your blog today! I'm Kate, a 20-something very-soon-to-be grad school graduate, Southern girl born and bred, aspiring PR/media somebody with a passion for writing. I blog at A Thought and a Half, which is currently undergoing some big changes, and I absolutely love it!

I'd like to take this time to talk about something that's very important to staying emotionally and mentally healthy: anxiety, and managing it safely. 

We all experience anxiety to some degree, at some point in our lives. It's natural, and it's okay to feel it. By definition, anxiety is, "a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome." Some people experience anxiety in spurts, or only when certain events are looming over their heads. But for others, anxiety is more perpetual and reaches into anxiety disorder territory. Whether your anxiety comes in spurts, or if it's something you face day in and day out, knowing how to address and handle it are keys to making anxiety manageable. 

My anxiety comes and goes, depending on the environment or situation at hand. As my graduate program comes to a close and my job search piles up, a hundred fears and worries rush through my mind every day: Will my thesis project turn out okay? Will my work be good enough? Will I find a job, let alone one that I like? How long until I'm employed after graduation? These racing thoughts have resulted in sleepless nights, which is exactly what I need in my last week and a half of grad school... 

Anxious thoughts or habits can't always be pushed to the side with ease. But I have found ways to calm myself down, for both short-term and long-term effects from anxiety. I don't proclaim these to be cure-alls, but they do help, and that's what counts. 

Deep Breathing // This is borderline cliche, but deep breathing does have its benefits. Taking 10 slow, deep breaths forces me to concentrate on my inhales and exhales, and thus slows my mind. It must be that fresh oxygen I'm bringing in. 

Exercise // It's like Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde: "Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." Whether you do an intense weight-lifting session or take a casual stroll, getting out and moving around is a great way to clear your mind and focus on something else for a little while. 

Relaxing Scents // Lavender has become my scent of choice lately. It's well known to be calming and relaxing. I discovered the Febreeze Sleep Serenity spray bottles, which come in lavender, milk & honey, and jasmine. I spray down my bed and pillows with my lavender Febreeze, and it makes a huge difference in how I sleep. Orange is also known to be a calming scent. You can track down some essential oils, or just slice up an orange, save the skin and rind, and let that freshen up your space.

Cut Back the Caffeine // I admit that I'm a coffee addict. While I love all the articles that say that caffeine might actually be good for you, I know that's not my cue to chug a venti every morning. I really try not to drink more than two cups of coffee each day, especially not after lunchtime. At that point, I switch to tea and water. I've also really cut back on my coke consumption. I'll never say no to a vanilla Coke Zero, but I'm much better about reaching for tea or fruit-infused water instead. 

Eat Well // Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is an underrated way to manage anxiety. When I eat well, I feel good. I love fresh fruits, especially in the spring and summer. I could eat a whole quart of strawberries in one sitting and still feel light as a cloud (well, maybe). For veggies, carrots and hummus or ranch dip made with Greek yogurt is a great, filling snack. When I do eat poorly, I start feeling guilty about eating like that, which is never good. Not that I don't splurge, I surely do. But I try to limit that to special occasions. 

Look Away from the Screen(s) // I've read that you should not use any devices for an hour before you go to bed. While I'm not the best about this right now--I pretty much do homework until I go to bed--when I do give myself that break and time to cool down before bed, I sleep so much better. Once my graduate program is finished, I plan to take a little computer break. I've spent so much time with my MacBook in the last 10 months...we just need some time apart. 

Anxiety is no one's friend, but knowing how to best manage it for YOU will make everything much better. Finding what works best for YOU is key! 

 All material © Erica Musyt