What to Do When Anxiety Hits
If you know me, you know my struggle with mental health is anything but pretty. The beginning of the year sent me through the wringer with a stay in the hospital after emergency gall bladder removal surgery, the worst heartbreak of my young adult life, and a bipolar depression diagnosis. Whew. It has taken a lot of self-work, prayer, medication changes and doctor appointments to get here, but I finally feel like I am out the other side.
Healing is a process, ongoing and ever changing. Life isn’t always sunshines and rainbows, even living here in Hawaii. Bad days will come. There will be moments where the panic threatens to rip up the carefully-laid peace. Moods will swing. But it is okay.
Lots of factors can determine and shift our emotions. When the not-so-good feelings creep up, taking a look at external factors is one way to see if even the smallest change, such as sipping a glass of ice water, can make all the difference.
When these moments hit, when I feel like giving up, I instead pause, take a deep breath, and self-assess. Here is a series of questions and solutions I turn to when all the feels bubble up and threaten to take over:
Are you hydrated? Have a glass of water.
Have you eaten in the past three hours? Prepare a snack or meal with protein and complex carbs.
Have you showered in the past day? Soap up, sister. Lather up in the good stuff, the kind you save for special occasions. Honesty bomb: You are the special occasion. Give yourself a hair mask or face mask. Slather on yummy smelling lotion.
Are you dressed? Put on clean, non-PJ clothes.
Are you fatigued but resisting bedtime? Get cozy under the covers for 15 minutes. No screens, no scrolling allowed. Instead, just breathe. Still awake? Rise, no pressure. Grab a book and read. Bonus points if it’s a fun, fictional novel and not just another self-help book.
Have you moved your body recently? Walk the dogs. If anything, ride the elevator downstairs, step outside. Wander down the block. Leave your phone at home. Hit the gym and promise yourself to stay for just 15 minutes.
Have you spoken to anyone today? Compliment a stranger. Call home or a long-distance friend. Send a love text. Write a letter. Make plans for a coffee date or happy hour with a solid, soul-warming friend.
Feel unproductive? Stop right now and complete any one, small task: put laundry in the washer, clean your breakfast dishes, send an email.
Feel unattractive? Put on real clothes (not just yoga pants). Brush your hair. Swipe on some lip gloss. Snap a damn selfie just for you. Heyyy gorgeous.
Paralyzed by indecision? Take 10 minutes and game plan your day. Just start one simple task, such as making coffee or getting dressed for the day. The goal is to break through the stasis, even with trivial moves.
Over-exerting yourself lately — physically, mentally, socially? Say no to the next plans coming your way — yes, even on the weekend. Take a 20 minute power nap. Curl up in a chair and read a book. Take yourself on a solo-date to the movies. And dangit, get the popcorn.
Prayed lately? Open the bible, read the Proverb of the day. Flip to a Psalm. Open your journal and scribble your heart’s words to Him and no one else.
Have your medications changed lately? Give it time! Still not feeling good? Call your doctor. Set the therapy appointment. Make sure you go. Just show up, the rest will fall into place. You got this, girl.