“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days.” ~ Kris Carr
Does anxiety ever really go away?
This is something I’ve been pondering lately.
Sure, it’s possible to feel relief; to feel alive and normal again, as I do on most days. But, healing anxiety doesn’t seem like a totally feasible option.
It’s always there. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting for a moment of weakness and another opportunity to strike.
I’m not talking about normal anxiety – the kind you get when standing toe-to-toe with a saber-toothed tiger or more realistically, the hiring manager conducting your interview. That anxiety is good. It keeps you on your toes, and lets you know you’re human.
The anxiety I’m talking about is the bad kind. The darkness that makes you want to curl up in a ball and lay in bed until the day’s over, hoping for a better day tomorrow. Or the kind that ruins a relationship because you constantly fear you’re not good enough, or that maybe the other person just wants to hurt you.
I’m no stranger to these thoughts and feelings. I’ve lived through the worst of them, and I’d like to think they made be a better person.
How to Stay a Healthy and Happy Person
I know that anxiety is right there waiting for a slip-up; a weak point in my life for it to come bursting through. I’ve given up enough things to anxiety for my happiness. As such, there are three things that I do every day to keep it in its corner and out of my life.
No matter what happens during the course of my day, these 3 activities are not negotiable. Every time I’ve fallen back into a place of darkness, it’s inevitable because I stopped doing one or all of these things daily.
As a 28-year old man with a past history of anxiety, I know all too well the constant battle with one’s mind. Meditation and mindfulness have helped me to conquer my thoughts and improve myself as an individual.
For those of you who have never meditated before, I urge you to try it. Meditation has been shown to:
- Reduce anxiety and anxious feelings
- Relieve stress and help you relax
- Improve focus and memory
- Develop self-awareness
That last piece is critical. The self-awareness that I’ve developed through mindful meditation has helped me to understand my thoughts, feelings, and subsequent actions. I know what makes me tick. I know what makes me anxious. And, I know what triggers other unwanted feelings.
Every morning as part of my wake-up routine, I’ll sit down and meditate for 5-10 minutes. Some days I do really well. Other days, I only find a few seconds of clarity and focus. Regardless, it makes me a better person and contributes to healing anxiety.
Action: Try meditating every day for a week straight. Start with 1 to 2-minute sessions of just sitting still and focusing on your breath. I bet after a week, you’ll have noticed enough of a difference to peak your curiosity and dig further into mindfulness.
2. Lift Weights OR Do Yoga
The second thing on my list of non-negotiables could actually be one of two things.
I follow a weight-lifting regime of 4 days per week, usually on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I enjoy lifting weights because it feels good to struggle and sweat, it makes me healthy and strong, and it keeps me looking my best.
The feeling of confidence and happiness that I get after each workout is honestly a drug. I know I said I “enjoy” lifting weights, but I think what I really enjoy is the after-feeling.
Since there are 3 other days during the week where I crave that feel-goodness, I’ve started doing yoga on my off-days.
Yoga is amazing for anxiety. It forces you to focus on your breathing. It’s also extremely difficult, and I’m not embarrassed to say that as a man. I think the difficulty of it helps take my mind off of things while acting as an extra meditative practice for me during the day.
Action: Go out and exhaust yourself. It’s hard to be anxious when your body is huffing and puffing, fighting for every breath. You could either lift weights, do sprints, or join a group yoga class. Group classes are more fun since you get to make new friends, as well.
“Walking is man’s best medicine.” ~ Hippocrates
Last up on my daily must-do’s is to go for a walk. Most days, I’ll go for a long walk in the evening with my dog and fiancé. Other days, I’ll do a shorter walk by myself in the morning or later at night.
There is something insanely peaceful and grounding about venturing out into nature with no agenda other than to simply walk.
When was the last time you got up and went for a stroll?
I’m not talking about your promenade through the grocery store, or the multiples time a day you get up from work to go to the bathroom. I’m talking about a spontaneous, “I think I’m going to go for a walk tonight” type deal.
Give it a shot and I think you’ll be hooked, especially if you haven’t gone for a walk in a while.
Action: Go for a walk tonight. Bonus points if you invite a friend to enjoy the experience with you. Notice how much better you feel afterward and ride that momentum into the next day.
I guess I have no idea whether or not completely healing my anxiety is possible. What I do know is that when I stick to my routine and do my 3 non-negotiable things, I feel as happy and healthy as can be.
These 3 things have helped me to overcome the worst of it, and I don’t care what else is going on during my day, I’m going to get them done for me. What about you? What is one non-negotiable thing you do every day for healing anxiety? You can share your comment in the comment section below 🙂