It’s mental health awareness month and I’ve been very candid with all of you about my struggles with anxiety. I feel that if by sharing my story I can help at least one person, then it’s all worth it. Anxiety is not something that goes away overnight. It is something that lives with you but it doesn’t need to define you.
Managing anxiety is not always easy, and it varies by individual. It’s important to know that the tools that work for one person to manage and redirect that anxiety, might not work for another and that’s okay. It has taken me many years to narrow down what helps me and my anxiety and I want to share them with you.
There are many factors that trigger my anxiety, and unfortunately, sometimes ‘an episode,’ as I like to call it, sneaks up on me and can be extremely stressful. It isn’t a secret that our move back to Miami and reestablishing ourselves here, has definitely been a challenging one not only as a family, but for myself as well. One of the things I’ve had to learn the hard way is to take a few steps back, recognize that stress, accept it, and find healthy ways to manage it. Initially, I was in denial; I was taking on a lot and just kept pushing through, saying ‘yes’ to everything, wanting to do more than any human could handle, while keeping my head above water. Ultimately, it all came crashing down.
It was the eye-opening awakening that I needed. My anxiety made sure of that. I won’t lie that there is that fear that one of these episodes can happen at any time, and that’s why I’ve worked extra hard at implanting tools and practices that help me manage my anxiety best. Starting with ‘me time,’ and taking the time to do things that make me happy- like going to the movies, buying fresh flowers, or reading a book.
Checking in with my mental health is of utmost important to me. The happier and more centered I am the better I can be as a woman, a mother, a wife, and a friend. Conversations about mental health should not be had amongst whispers or behind closed doors. Mental health is something that affects so many of us, and I can’t tell you how delighted I am that more and more individuals are opening up about their struggles, no longer ashamed or afraid of the stigma that unfairly comes along with it. There is absolutely no shame in that.
What are some of the things I do to check in with myself and to keep my anxiety at bay? First and foremost, the days of over scheduling and saying yes to every single little thing are done. That was a big one for me. I know that if you watch my Instagram stories it may seem that I have something going on every single day, but I don’t. I keep events spread out and they come second to anything that has to do with Coco and the kids, unless of course, they come with me and I can make it a family affair, or I can somehow make it an opportunity for Coco and I to spend time together.
Another crucial factor is detoxing from social media. Social Media is a double edged sword and has often been linked to depression and anxiety, in fact, the term is called ‘Instagramxiety’ (for real, look it up). Spending too much time scrolling through other people’s feeds (which lets keep in mind, are mostly curated), stalking others on Facebook, or just comparing your life to other influencers or keeping track of followers, is exhausting and can take you down a dark rabbit hole. It happens to all of us and it’s important to disconnect and/or find a healthy balance in our relationship with social media. Starting today, I’ll be taking a one week break- detoxing from Instagram and deleting the app from my phone.
A few months ago, I started going to the gym. It was something I needed to do for myself. No more making excuses or saying that I have ‘good genes.’ At the end of the day, it’s about taking care of our physical and mental health. I was doing pretty good and had a nice routine going, even bought myself some really cute workout outfits. But in the last month, I stopped going altogether, a decision that I haven’t been happy about it. So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to kick start my workouts again this week because I know they’re good for me in more ways than one. That also includes making more of an effort to eat healthier and to decrease my drinking, which I have significantly (with the exception of one to two times a week). It’s important to note, that alcohol only makes anxiety worse. After all, it is a depressant. For those that suffer from anxiety, cutting down alcohol intake is of best interest. In addition, I have shared how during my last episode, I made a choice to go on anti-anxiety medication, which worked tremendously for me (also not good to combine with alcohol). It took me a while to come around to that, because you guessed it, stigma. I’m so happy I did because without the medication and supplementing it with my weekly therapy sessions (sometimes 3-4 times a week at my peak), I wouldn’t have been able to function.
I’ve saved the best remedy for last, and that’s my family. Spending time with my kids and my husband, whether it’s watching a movie at home or going to the pool, is sometimes the only medicine I need. Their love and support is monumental and really does help ease my anxiety.
Anxiety doesn’t have to limit you; but it does force you to examine your life and your well-being. Believe it or not, acknowledging anxiety can help us become better versions of ourselves and help us manage our self-care.
Sometimes difficult roads lead to beautiful situations, and in my case, the future is looking bright.