Stick with me till the end to find out the secret cure not many people know about.
I’ve been a Highly Anxious Person (HAP) for most of my adult life. No surprises there. I was brought up by a highly anxious parent.
Things that seemed simple to others were complicated for me. If something was actually complicated, I was not able to handle it at all. Most of the tasks I found complex had to do with navigating social interactions or taking calculated risks. So I found it difficult to level up in life. I was stuck trying to grapple with my environment.
I come from India. Here 7% of the population is below poverty line so we think we have more pressing things to worry about. Anxiety is considered a rich wo(man)’s disease. We think it is wrong to talk about it.
We couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality probably is that poverty triggers mental illness. In the same geography, poverty-stricken humans are 3 times more likely to become anxious says this study https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aay0214
Anxiety is also likely to keep people poor, me thinks. Why so? Because my enlightened one, anxious people do not think logical enough to take good decisions, when they are struck by an attack. Which can be anytime.
If you are someone who lives an anxious life, watch out for these surprising signs that might be warnings of your condition.
· You are terrified of the opposite sex
· You lose your cool often
· You people please
· You are mean to your inner circle
· Social situations make you physically ill
· You are not cognizant of actual danger
· You are terrified of heights
Anxiety is a condition us anxious don’t have complete control over.
But once we acknowledge its nasty presence, we can deal with it better.
I worked on my anxiety when I was about to turn 40. It is never ‘too late.’ This is what I did. See what from this works for you:
I name it but not to shame it
Emotions are feelings that come on strong. How do I identify emotions? I keep a diary. I note down events of the day & how they made me feel. Within a week, I started to notice a pattern. I was able to isolate incidents, memories & feelings that trigger the anxiety attack. When I name my step brotherly emotions, I am building a bridge between my thoughts & feelings. I am acknowledging their reality. And I can better control what is real to me.
I enlist help
I keep my inner circle in the loop. Yes, I confide to them about my anxiety attacks. I don’t find shame in it. I find power. By confiding, I get their support for all the steps I was taking to tame my anxiety. This is what I told them. “These (list) might be the situations that trigger my anxiety. While I don’t hold you responsible for my condition, I need to tell you that I may not be myself when step bro anxiety attacks.’
When I am PMS-ing my anxiety is worse. For those times I keep a separate period diary where I note down dates & mood swings. I update friends, family & sometimes even co-workers, especially to avoid stressful meetings during the time.
We feel the need to be overtly professional at work but it pays to be human. Long ago, I had a friend who was going through a messy divorce. He became highly anxious during the time. He kept work informed that he would not be at his best that year. He had probably saved his job when layoffs crept in to take everyone by surprise.
I live better
Anxiety heightens when we are in pain or when we are exhausted. For us anxious it’s a loop. Lack of rest = anxiety. Which results in > anxiety. What helps me is 7 hours of sleep, a calm mind & a dose of dopamine. I use these hacks to live a better life & quell my anxiety:
I have taken up running as a sport. Its cathartic.
I stress on good sleep. This is how I manage a good 7 hours of fitful sleep:
I don’t consume alcohol in the evenings. Its affects my sleep.
Caffeine gets the same treatment
I note down troubling thoughts in my diary so they don’t plague my night
I switch off devices at least an hour before bedtime
I read a few pages of a book in bed.
I sleep in a cool room.
I avoid people (if I can) who trigger the worst in me. I seek out those who bring out the best.
I create routines that make us feel secure & happy as a family. As an example, we play scrabble Saturday afternoons, cycle together Sunday mornings & cook together Sunday evenings.
I eat healthy.
A secret to getting a hold on anxiety not many people are aware of
Our brain health is determined by the presence/ absence of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). You can read about it here- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18072818/.
The long & short of it is that when we feed our brain about 1000 mg of EPA/ day we nourish it. Anxiety runs away, tail between legs, accompanied by its cousins — anger & depression. Salmon (or in the absence of it fish oil capsules) have high doses of EPA.
So, has something worked for you in your mental fitness journey? Can you share it here, so everyone can benefit?
By the way, I write an independent newsletter on Sub stack — Ethical Badass Tales. My newsletter helps people live & work better using the values of ethics & integrity. I will write more stuff there on tools that have worked to almost annihilate anxiety from my life. I write other cool stuff too. If you want to check it out to subscribe, this is the link Ethical Badass Tales.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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