This topic is a little more serious that my usual recipe posts, but it’s been on my heart lately, and it’s something I’ve been learning to cope with as a creator. I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve found some strategies that have brought me some relief.
So yeah, I’ve struggled with anxiety for several years now. I’ve gained better control over it in the past year, but it completely wrecked me in college. I was an exhausted, anxious mess with a twisted stomach and shaky hands. I was terrified of making a mistake no matter where I was–work, college, or in my house with my roommates. Food has always been especially triggering for me because I’m scared of getting sick from cross-contamination.
Now I did really great work and graduated with a 4.0, but it wasn’t without it’s bad side. Anxiety crept into my sleep, my social life, and my free time, and has continued to follow me into the next chapter of my life. I still worry about failure, getting sick, or letting someone down. But most of the time it isn’t even rational like those examples. I worry without even knowing what I’m worrying about or how I ended up in a spiral.
As makers and creatives I think we can be especially prone to being melancholy souls with the tendency to fall into patterns of anxiety or depression. Sometimes we create to get ourselves out of our ruts, and other times the ruts find us and threaten to stop us from gathering up the courage to make. I know I can be so crippled by the thought that I might fail that I’ll sit at my computer and stare in fear instead of moving and messing up. I’ll find myself avoiding creative tasks where I have to invent something without working off of an existing source. (For example, creating a logo from scratch can be far more ambiguous and scary than making a brochure for an existing brand.)
What I do matters immensely to me, and there are client relying on me, too. What is more, I need to be ok to help the people in my life who need me. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into managing my anxiety lately, and I hope these tips help you, too.
1. Practicing yoga every day, even if it’s only for 10 minutes.
I plan on writing a whole post about this in the future because it has been a real game changer for me. Every night after work I practice for about 20-30 minutes before dinner. I’ve been working especially on aligning my breath, and I find it’s made me better at refocusing when I find myself getting anxious during the day. I like using Yoga by Candace
if I feel like I need an instructor to guide me through, or I’ll just practice and move in a way that feels good.
2. Limiting coffee to one cup. This has been so hard…. and yes, I am substituting decaf in the afternoon. A doctor was the first person to tell me to cut caffeine, or I never would have made the initial effort. I’ve been sticking with it only out of a sincere desire to see myself get better and gain better control over my anxiety.
3. Focusing on gut health. The gut-brain connection is a strong one. Having a damaged gut can lead to anxiety and mental issues, just as much as having a brain injury can lead to gut and digestive issues. I’m consuming as much fermented food and bone broth as possible while limiting things that are known to damage guts (coffee, sugar, processed foods, nuts, alcohol, processed oils.)
4. Checking in with the amount of social media I am on. This is difficult when you’re a blogger, but I found that the constant need to check social media and respond to notifications stresses me out. The internet makes us feel like we’re always one step behind, even if we’re not always conscious of it. I’ve disabled all notifications on my phone and I only allow myself to check channel is every two hours (or longer on work days.)
5. Listening to calming music or white noise instead of podcasts and music if I feel like I’m too stressed. If a work task seems to be causing anxiety for me, I tried to limit the amount of pressure that I’m feeling around myself. I’ll opt for some ocean waves instead of an educational podcast if I feel like my brain is a little overwhelmed.
6.Knowing my limits and sticking to them. I know the level of effort that I expect from myself with each project I say yes to, and I know how triggering it can be for me to have multiple looming deadlines and high-priority tasks. I’ve learned to say no to opportunities that I know I can’t mentally handle, and I’m working on delegating instead of placing everything on my own shoulders.
7. Eating a higher fat lower carb diet and avoiding sugars. Lots of sugar and carbs makes me shaky. Even if you don’t deal with insulin resistance, avoiding too many carbs could help you with focus and brain fog. If you really want to dive deep on this, check our the Anti-Anxiety Diet.
8. Daily Walks for 45 mins. Walking with Hudson each afternoon after work keeps me sane! I think a great way to silence anxiety is to go out and move in the world. Feel fresh air, stretch your legs, and see that you’re ok. I’ve noticed that a lot of my fears revolve around no longer being able to do something that I love. Seeing myself functioning and literally making strides helps me to calm those fears.
9. Exercising daily. Exercise lowers cortisol, releases endorphins, and it also helps me to get out of my head. I find I’m much more grounded through the day when I’ve started off with some movement and positive energy.
10. Focusing on others. This is one of the best solutions of all. When you take the focus off of yourself and your fears and shift your gaze to the people around you, there isn’t room to be an anxious. This isn’t to say that having anxiety means you’re selfish, but making a positive impact for people around you can help you build relationships and silence some of your own anxiety.
And a bonus… pray. I never want people to feel alienated if they have different beliefs than me, but this is honestly the biggest piece of the puzzle for me, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it.
I hope this is helpful for you, friend!