This year I faced levels of anxiety I didn't even know existed. Some days I struggled to leave the house, struggled to eat, struggled to make it through countless panic attacks, and struggled to remember a time when anxiety wasn't at the forefront of my life. In the peak of this long bout of particularly immobilizing anxiety, I went through a myriad of emotions — feelings others who suffer from panic or anxiety disorders have undoubtedly experienced in their own ways as well. There's frustration, helplessness, sadness, anger, and even shame. While everyone's struggle with anxiety is completely unique, there are some helpful things we can try doing to confront our anxiety and work toward improving our health and happiness. Here are some resolutions to consider when starting a new chapter this year.
1. Don't apologize for your anxiety.
Never feel like you need to apologize for suffering from an anxiety disorder. There's an unfortunate, but very real, stigma around mental health issues. Instead of spending time apologizing for something that isn't your fault, use that time to work toward confronting your anxiety and finding ways to cope with and overcome it. Don't let anyone (including yourself) shame you.
2. Feel comfortable talking about it.
Anxiety isn't something to be ashamed of. It certainly isn't something you should feel like you have to hide. It is a real mental illness, one that is just as serious as any illness that is more easy to see externally. Be more honest and open about what you're dealing with; you'd be surprised how much of a relief getting everything out in the open can be.
3. Seek help.
If you haven't already, consider seeking professional help for your anxiety. For some people, it can be difficult to admit to needing to help. The first step can be learning how to recognize when it's time to ask for it. For others, the idea of speaking with someone they don't know about something so personal can be terrifying. But professionals are trained to address anxiety disorders — you're (probably) not. There are so many benefits to working with someone who truly understands the illness and has the unique tools to confront your specific circumstances.
4. Take care of your physical health.
Anxiety is directly tied to the state of your physical health. Focus on eating healthy, exercising regularly, and trying activities like meditation and yoga, which can be helpful in easing anxiety. While anxiety can take a huge toll on your physical health, it works the other way as well — your physical well-being can have a positive impact on your mental health.
5. Focus on yourself.
Put yourself and your mental/physical health first. There's nothing wrong with being on the top of your priority list. Take time to do the things that make you happy and fulfilled. Try new things and explore new ways to confront your anxiety and to find happiness.
6. Try a new way of dealing with your anxiety that you haven't tried before.
If you feel like the methods you've been using to deal with your anxiety aren't working anymore, then be open-minded about other ways to improve your mental health. If you haven't tried meditation, give it a shot. If you've avoided breathing exercises, take time to try them out now. And most importantly, if you haven't tried seeking help, there's no better time than the present.
7. Explain your specific experience with anxiety to loved ones.
Communicate how your personal anxiety manifests itself in order to help those around you better understand what you're going through. The more they understand your specific experience (and everyone's is completely different!), the more equipped they will be to help you.
8. Be kinder to yourself.
Give yourself praise for the efforts you're making to confront your anxiety. Don't be so hard on yourself when you face an obstacle or when you feel like you've failed. We're often our own worst critics, but you are not a failure, and you are not a burden to anyone. Remember to value yourself, accept who you are, and love yourself and the whole package — anxieties and all.
9. Take care of your anxiety in a way that works for you.
Above all, practice self-care daily, and stay in tune with what your mind and body need. If you know something works for you, do it.
10. Be patient.
Some days it may feel like you'll never be OK. Other days you may feel angry because all you want is to feel like yourself again and you simply don't know how to get back there. But you can find peace again; it is possible. Remind yourself that there is hope, even if it doesn't feel that way at the time. Remember to breathe deep, be patient, and keep working for a healthier, happier you. You're worth it, and you're stronger you may think!