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If there’s anything I’m learning increasingly in my battle with anxiety, then it’s that self-care is as important as breathing in this day-to-day journey.

Self-care is simply doing the necessary things to help us deal more bravely and beautifully with the frustrations of an anxious, panic-ridden soul. Self-care is vital because anxiety doesn’t care what is or isn’t going on in our daily routines, as it attempts to wreck the details of our lives with its falsehoods and hassles.

Anxiety doesn’t care if we’ve had a rough day and desperately need to get sound sleep. Its only goal is to keep our minds wide awake while our souls are too exhausted to fight the empty details keeping us restless.

Anxiety doesn’t care if we long to travel and have amazing experiences all over the world. Its objective is to convince us to allow fear to snuff out opportunities our faith was born to enjoy.

Anxiety doesn’t care that our spouse/partner is trying their best to show us love and understanding in a situation they’re truly trying to understand. It’s only motive is to drive us completely away from anyone dedicated to love us more than we comprehend.

Anxiety doesn’t care that most of the worries lodged in our head will never actually occur in the details of our lives. It’s only focus is to get us to focus on all that can go wrong despite what’s indeed good in our lives.

Anxiety doesn’t care that we really want to enjoy family gatherings, reunions with friends or the occasional co-worker get together. It’s only joy is to rob us of the joy of partaking in good social interaction, which can often be a source of strength and support through our uncomfortableness.

Anxiety doesn’t care that we’re sick and tired of the debilitating thoughts, confused nerves and complete restlessness that comes with its attacks. It’s only goal is to keep us from our personal goals if we allow its countless lies to win.

While there are many things I’ve learned to do for my own personal self-care, these are a few on the top of my list in the fight.


1. Exercise.

From running, to hiking, to yoga, staying active is what continues to keep me pushing forward even when I feel like my push is completely gone. Consistent exercise clears the air in our head of so much while often reminding us there’s a bigger world than the one we’re battling in our mind and soul. Start where you are and get out of the house. Get out of the office. Get out of the gym, and take a hike!

2. Nutrition and hydration.

Our everyday functioning and overall mood can be hugely affected by what we eat and what we drink. Our body and its multiple systems will never adapt to dehydration, and as “comforting” as a glass of wine or cold beer may feel, alcohol doesn’t hydrate the body. Studies upon studies show dehydration raises the stress levels in our mind and body. On the other hand, a solid diet of what our body needs gives our body the strength and support it needs, along with good hydration.

3. Meditation.

Even though discussing religion can now be far more uncomfortable than voicing the current number on our bathroom scale, I don’t consider it strange in sharing my beliefs, as I’d never jeer nor judge anyone who doesn’t agree with the truths I center my life around. Prayer and meditation has been the most powerful tool to helping me freely break open instead of fully breaking down. It’s such a refresher to my soul and a huge reminder of how vital it is for us to purposefully turn it all off from time to time to remain “on” in life.

Let’s stay consistent with our self-care, because anxiety doesn’t care.

Editor’s note: This story is based on a individual’s experience and shouldn’t be taken as medical advice. 

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I have a love-hate relationship with the holidays. Sure, now that I have a child of my own there is more to love, but it’s a complicated relationship to say the least. The smells, sounds and sights are a gift to the senses for many. To me, however, these simple truths of the holidays are enough to cause my already daily anxiety to mount into a massive mountain of internal chaos. While the magic of the holidays makes me undeniably happy, the fulfillment makes me exhausted mentally. I told you. It’s complicated!

The holidays are usually filled with many family gatherings, office parties or other commitments where people are usually involved. Many of my friends and family relish at the opportunity to spend time in a large group, having a meal together, reminiscing about old times and sharing their goals for the upcoming year. Just typing those activities out on my keyboard is causing me to have pains in my chest.

It is not socially acceptable to want to exclude yourself around the holidays. I mean calling someone a “scrooge” or a “Grinch” isn’t a compliment. Is it? While I am never one to conform to society’s standards and ideals, I do (deep down) want to spend time with my family and friends around the holidays. I’ve been able to master the holidays, but to some, my behaviors and tricks for coping might come off as rude and inconsiderate. When the guest list tops six to eight people, I tend to shut down, even if it’s only family.

Here are the three things I want you to know about the holidays and my behavior:

1. Don’t take it personally if I don’t eat or drink.

Chances are, even if I supplied some of the food, I won’t eat much. This even goes for my mom’s famous pork roast. It has nothing to do with being embarrassed about eating in public (that was my high school phase) or that I don’t like your cooking. Trust me, I am always hungry. So it’s not that either. It is because my anxiety is causing my stomach to put on an acrobatic display, and I couldn’t handle making it worse. That would surely send me and my anxiety through the roof! Can you imagine if you got sick at a holiday party? That would make anyone anxious. No thank you!


2. I won’t stay in one place for long.

Whether it is at the dinner table or on the couch in the living room, I won’t stay in one place for long. Being stuck in a single spot for a long period of time is not my idea of fun, no matter the surroundings. I tend to feel antsy and overwhelmed. Switching spots lowers this feeling. It’s kinda like the saying, “Fight or flight.” Well, I am always in “flight” searching for the next safe spot to take a rest. I am not trying to be rude or not enjoy your company. The act of moving actually calms me down. Most times, you can catch me clearing the table (even at guest’s homes), doing the dishes, changing seats, taking a trip to the bathroom (for the 10th time in one hour) or pretending to take a call outside. These are all coping mechanisms I’ve learned throughout the years.

3. I might not talk much or talk too much.

If I have little to contribute to the conversation, then I am not trying to come off as if I don’t care. I so wish I could talk for hours about everything and nothing. Sometimes, you can’t get me to shut up. Chances are when I do talk, I use a loud voice, dramatic hand gestures and my tone is filled with exclamations and emotion. Those are the times when I might not make much sense.

I have hard time deciphering my thoughts and sharing them in an intelligible conversation. Rather than being anxious about the possibility of saying something silly, I choose to not engage in small talk. This is why at large gatherings, especially around people I am not acclimated with, I tend to keep my chaotic thoughts to myself.

According to a study from “Entrepreneur” magazine, stress is heightened during the holiday season, even for those who don’t usually struggle. This means for the 40 million people who are living with an anxiety disorder, the holidays bring the bonus gift of more anxiety. Usually I love presents, but this one I could live without. If I act in a socially inappropriate way, then please remember my mind is like a walking traffic jam, trying to navigate the signals that this festive season throws at me.

Happy Holidays!

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I am happy. I enjoy going out with friends and socializing with others. I enjoy working in groups and interacting with customers at work.

Waking up is my favorite part of the day.

Most people would describe me as these things, but that’s not the real me. That’s just what I appear to be.

The person seen is completely different than the person I am inside.

I feel my thoughts racing a mile a minute! About things I have to do today, tomorrow, or next week. About things I’ve said in conversations that may have made me look silly in front of that person. A lame joke or something that didn’t make sense. I have a hard time falling asleep because my mind is always awake. Without my dog next to me every night and the TV on some trivial show I’ve seen a million times, I’d never sleep.

I feel ashamed for the way I am, how I do things, how I figure stuff out. I know these are not true thoughts, but I can’t help but think them.

I am scared of social situations. Even if I know everyone, I get anxious. I prefer to do
projects alone, but my boss doesn’t know that. Even when I do things on my own, I’m
scared I’m not doing them right, that I’m not qualified to be doing this. In reality,
I’m overqualified.

I can’t actively focus on the present. My anxiety forces me to worry about the future, and my depression makes me relive the past over and over again. I overthink every situation and everything that happens or that comes out of my mouth. I may seem well put together to you, but I’m not. I’m not the person you believe me to be, but I am a better person than I think I am. I know how to put on a good show.

I should have been an actor.

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Twitter users started the hashtag #GrowingUpWithAnxiety to describe childhood and young adulthood with an anxiety disorder — these are some of the best responses.

Read the full story.

A friend sent me this earlier today:

“My whole life I’ve been telling myself ‘don’t be afraid.’ And it is only now that I’m realizing how stupid that is. Don’t be afraid. Like saying ‘don’t move out of the way when someone tries to punch you’ or ‘don’t flinch at the heat of the fire’ or ‘don’t blink.’ Don’t be human. I’m afraid and you’re afraid and we’re always going to be afraid, because that’s the point. What I should be telling myself is ‘be afraid, but do it anyway. Live anyway.’”  — Unknown

That quote, combined with a late night anxiety spike, got me thinking. What if, instead of being stifled by our demons, we stand up to them? I know what I’m saying is incredibly difficult, and it will take work. So, maybe the first step is facing your demons, looking at them dead in the eye and saying, “Yes I’m terrified of you. But bring it on anyways.”

Facing them, staring them down, and communicating that yes, you are afraid but also are ready for whatever they can dish out, can take away their power. Just for a little bit, until they retaliate. But for that small frame of time, you may feel free. Because you have thrown off the demons. You have confused them. They don’t recognize this person standing up to them. Where did that other person go? She’s gone. At least for a few moments.

My point is, facing our demons and standing up to them is quite possibly a very large step towards recovery. I did it for the first time tonight, and so far it’s been wonderful. I will endeavor to do it more and more often, whenever I need to, and I suggest you do the same. It may just be the one action that breaks those chains and helps you stand on your own two feet to fend off those demons once and for all. I have faith in each and every one of you. We can do it!

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Doubt is the hidden antagonist that aides in the development of both my anxiety and depression. Doubt invades everything.

I have doubts mostly about my own abilities. Doubts about doing laundry  will I ruin all the clothes? Doubts about driving — will I cause a crash? Doubts about my relationship — how will I wreck it? Doubts about working — are they talking about me? Am I doing a good enough job? Is there something I could be doing better? Is there someone doing better than I am?

I doubt everything about myself. There are times when this doubt freezes me, leaves me jobless and doing poorly in school. I know I can do better, but this constant doubt that runs through my head feels stronger than me some days. And other days, I am stronger. Some days I overcome these feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt. Some days I persevere and complete the tasks the day sets out before me. But some days I don’t. And that is OK. I know I am still a good person. Even though some days this symptom of my mental illness is overpowering, I am still here. I am still alive, and I have many more days to get better at this. And through therapy and medication, I am learning how to better deal with my doubts.

For now, I acknowledge the thoughts and then I push them from my head. I use distractions to live out my day-to-day life. There is this constant self-doubt inside me. Some days it feels like it wins, and some days it doesn’t. For that I am happy; for that I am appreciative of how much growth I have made in recent months. I know I will keep getting better, even when I try to talk myself out of it.

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