It is possible to live an incredibly good life with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is real, and it’s an epidemic that is taking over our society. I know this all too well, because I live with anxiety. It’s a crazy thing. There are days where you feel amazing, and then there are days where you feel so shaken up, that making a decision about what to eat for breakfast feels absolutely impossible. There was a period in my life when anxiety truly took over and I found myself experiencing panic attacks almost daily, some of which would cause me to blackout.
When anxiety hits, it can feel as though you lose complete control over your mind as it wanders into the most negative places, over-analyzing and making ridiculous “what if” statements while your body begins to shake due to the boosted activity in your nervous system. It’s a frustrating thing to live with, and I know because I’ve lived with it for over 20 years. But anxiety is manageable, and it is possible to live an incredibly good life with an anxiety disorder.
In a recent study held by Statistics Canada, it was found that 2.6 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older reported symptoms consistent with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), an anxiety disorder characterized by a pattern of frequent, persistent worry and excessive anxiety about several events or activities. What’s important to understand is that this 2.6 per cent pertains to GAD only; there are actually seven other anxiety disorders that are not included in this statistic.
Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada shared the following: “the 12 month prevalence for any anxiety disorder is over 12% and one in four Canadians (25%) will have at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime.”
Simply put, anxiety is the most common mental illness in Canada. So why are we keeping so hush hush about it? Why are so many people ashamed of admitting their struggles with this often-crippling mental illness? It’s time to talk openly about this mental illness that is plaguing our society, because the more we talk about it, the more we can help each other through it.
Anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. With the amount of stress we put on ourselves regarding finances, career, education and family, it’s no wonder that the number of people struggling with anxiety continues to rise.
After decades of living with anxiety, I’ve cultivated tools to help me manage it effectively, without prescriptions or alcohol. I definitely still have those days where my anxiety wants to creep in, but these tools help me conquer my anxiety successfully.
Here are five tools you can effectively manage your anxiety:
Ground Yourself in Reality
Anxiety often happens when we get carried away with our worries and “what if” statements. This is something I refer to as “future-hopping.” It’s important to ground yourself in reality when you find yourself over-thinking an undetermined future. When you feel anxiety creep in, ground yourself by paying attention to what’s really in front of you. With your hands, touch the seat that you’re sitting on or the items in front of you, and identify and name the objects around you. For example, if you’re sitting at your desk, touch the actual desk, touch your seat, and acknowledge the items on your desk by identifying them either out loud or in your head. The goal is to get back in the present moment.
I am a big fan of meditation. Not only does it help calm your energy, but it also helps to bring you in the present moment. Just like working out, this tool is best used daily, and first thing in the morning. However if you find yourself experiencing anxiety during the day or in the evenings, it’s an easy tool to implement on the spot. If you struggle with quieting your mind, then stick to guided meditations. With so many apps available (my personal favourite is Insight Timer), there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be meditating.
This is my personal favourite way to combat anxiety, and is best used as a preventative tool. If you find yourself battling anxiety daily, then work out daily, and do it first thing in the morning. Anxiety is often caused by displaced energy, or “stuck” energy. Working out is a fantastic way to move that energy within your body while releasing endorphins (aka happy hormones). Any form of physical movement can help ease the symptoms of anxiety. If you feel anxiety in the middle of the day, go outside for a walk or run around the block and shake up your energy. An added tip… Adopt a form of exercise that you truly love. If weightlifting isn’t something you enjoy, don’t do it! Take up yoga or Zumba instead. The important thing is that you are moving your body daily.
I’ll be honest… this is my go-to tool and it’s definitely a little odd, but it works! Whether you’re starting to feel anxiety creep in, or you’re in the middle of a panic attack, this definitely works. Especially when paired with deep belly breathing. All you have to do is lay down flat on the floor in a starfish pose (arms and legs wide open), and breathe. This helps you ground your energy and shift yourself into the present moment.
The 4-5-6 Breath
This tool is highly effective in the middle of a panic attack. Anxiety moves your breath from your belly (where it’s meant to be) to your chest, which often exasperates the situation because you’re taking in less oxygen. When you feel yourself experiencing anxiety, bring your breath back into your belly. Expand your belly with each inhale and contract it with each exhale. Count your breath, starting with a 4 count inhale, then hold your breath for 5 counts, and exhale for 6 counts, and repeat. Repeat this breathwork for a few minutes as your body begins to calm down with the added oxygen intake.
Anxiety can have a negative impact on your life, but only if you let it take over. Refuse to let it win. Adopt these tools and use them to effectively manage your anxiety so you can focus on creating a life that feels good.
About Ruby Fremon
is a top Breakthrough Coach (Certified Life Coach and NLP Practitioner) on a mission to help people tear down the limiting beliefs that stand between them and the life they truly want to live. Named “An Inspirational Woman” by The Huffington Post, and founder of the Self-Love Tribe, Ruby lives and breathes what she teaches. Her work inspires people to embrace enoughness, unravel from their former programming, and make the transition from breakdowns to breakthroughs. Learn more about Ruby at www.iamru.by.