Tips to manage anxiety

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I feel like I can’t escape my thoughts”. “My chest feels like it’s about to cave in and my heart starts racing”. “I want to stop overthinking things”. “I tend to overanalyze things”. These are common concerns for those who suffer from anxiety.

Anxiety can swoop upon before you know it and it feels like a heavy cloud on your mind. Anxiety gives you a restless and distracted feeling.

Here are 6 ways to manage anxiety:

1. COMBAT NEGATIVE THOUGHTS. When you are anxious your thoughts fall into a negative pattern. You want to combat your negative beliefs to see if they are rational. You can combat your thoughts by comparing evidence for and against your negative thoughts. Many times after doing this activity you will find that there is not reasonable evidence for your negative thought which helps you reach a calmer state and thought behind an event.

2. ENGAGE IN DEEP BREATHING. A great way to deep breathe is the 4/7/8 technique. In this excercise, you breathe in deep for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat this as many times as needed to reach a calm point.

3. TAKE A COLD SHOWER/ USE A COLD TOWEL ON YOUR NECK. The cold temperature acts as a “shock to the system” that is able to ground you back to the present moment.

4. GET ACTIVE. Find a form of the exercise that you can do daily. Exercise has been shown to increase endorphins and the “feel good hormone” serotonin.

5. TAKE A TIMEOUT. Whenever you begin to start feeling overwhelmed you want to enlist your coping skills. TAKE time to do yoga, listen to music, journal, get a massage or anything that allows you to gather your thoughts.

6. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. It is essential to get enough sleep and maintain a balanced diet. Self care is an essential component to being able to manage stressors more effectively.

Knowing your triggers and body reactions is key to managing your anxiety. You want to use the anxiety managment tips before you reach your “boiling point”. On a 10 point scale where 0 is no disturbance and 10 is the most disturbed you can be, you want to start using management techniques when you feel yourself getting to a 4. It’s easier to alleviate the effects of anxiety when you tune into your body and begin using your management techniques early on. Everyone has anxiety from time to time, however if these feelings begin to consume you and affect daily functioning it may be time to seek out some help.

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Mental Health Awareness Month 2017

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Mental health awareness month has been held in May since 1949. The purpose of this movement is to bring awareness to mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and schizophrenia. It also aims to bring awareness to suicidaility. The goal is to promote ways to implement positive coping skills into everyday life.

Each year has a different theme for the mental health awareness month. May 2017 is themed “risky business”. The goal is to educate the public on the precipitating factors that can lead to or enhance mental illness. Furthermore, the theme aims to help the public identify the signs of specific illnesses. The awareness website has a “tool kit” of resources that includes assessments, coping skills, and videos.

Mental health has a stigma that needs to be alleviated. Many people forgo seeking out help because of negative attitudes that have been held against counseling and mental health issues. Do not be afraid to reach out for help if you find yourself not handling stress in an affective manner. If you feel that you or someone you know is engaging in risky behaviors learn more by visiting http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

 

The first year of motherhood.

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My lovely daughter, little Miss London, turned one on April 2nd! Looking back, the time has flown and she has grown so much into her personality! I have learned so much in this time. I have found it very important to have a group of moms in my life for support! We mom’s need to support one another not compare or tear each other down!

As a new mom, you have new expectations, needs, and emotions. You may feel like a total wreck and have yet to gather your footing. You may feel like, “Who am I?”, “Will I get back the the old me?”, or “When will I get it together?”. Your motherhood journey may be rocky, smooth, or curvy. However, in the end, you will make it to your final destination. Give yourself grace in this time. Raising a child who knows they are loved, safe, and cared for is what matters.

There are articles that are polarizing and confusing, “Reason to let babies cry it out” “Reasons why you should not let babies cry it out”. Which may leave you screaming, “What do I do”?

A special gifting we develop as a mom is “mother’s intuition”. Do what you feel is best for your little one. We don’t need to fall into the “comparison trap”. Everyone has struggles and looking to the left or right around you can breed depression, confusion, anger or anxiety. It is okay to seek guidance, but don’t let that bleed into comparison. Mom’s may compare when their child starts walking, talking, and so on. Mom’s also may compare parenting styles. However, Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “Comparison is the thief of joy”.

What I have found in this first year of London’s life is that nothing else matters around me except my husband and her. Life and time are such precious commodities and can’t be spent on fleeting things. I have learned to enjoy the moment, do what I feel is best and let God handle the rest. I have been able to cherish life, laugh at my mistakes and take things a little less seriously. I don’t ask “who am I?” I am Whitney, a wife, mother, and a child of God! I know, accept, and love who I am in this season and I know that change is ever constant. In each season of life, we change and change can be hard. Don’t compare yourself to the “old you” because that is defeating as well. Sometimes you maybe crying, laughing, or feeling angry/defeated/not enough. Just know this to shall pass, you are enough, and these ups and downs are normal!

How did you learn to accept your new identity when you became a mom?

Beating the chatter of the mind.

I have been reading a book by Pastor Steven Furtick called, Crash the Chatterbox. The chatterbox is that small voice in your head that whispers, “I will never be good enough”, “that was a dumb decision”, or “Why can’t I control my emotions?”. The voice knows how to nag you and to the point of anxiety, depression, or anger if you allow it. We all have times in our lives where the negative chatter gets the best of us. However, we hold the key to the door of the chatterbox. We can choose to ignore the knocks or let it in.

When we open the door and let the chatter in we tend to repeatedly go over the negative thought in our head. This process is called rumination. When left unchecked rumination leads to anxiety, depression, and a sense of helplessness.

You can combat rumination and the negative enotions that come with it. A way to defend against the chatter is to work through the rational of the chatter. Once the negative chatter starts question whether your chatter is rational or not. Once you are able to pinpoint your negative self-talk it will be easier to dispute your chatter. Don’t allow your chatter to rule your life. Take control of the chatter and come up with alternatives that disprove your thoughts.

There is an ongoing battlefield in the mind. Therefore, you must become more mindful of your thoughts so you can replace the chatter with God’s truth. Once you feel a negative shift in your emotions take time to check in with your thoughts. Also, be mindful of implementing good self care, go on a walk, talk to a peer, pray, or journal. You are capable of winning the battle!

Love languages

Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch are apart of the 5 love languages. A love language simply means the way in which you like to recieve and give love. Each person has a primary love language. A characteristic summary of each love language is as follows:

Acts of service: This person feels loved when others do things for them. Folding laundry, running errands, cooking and lightening the load for this person makes them feel special.

Quality time: This person feels loved when uninterrupted time is spent. Spending time with this person one on one with no outside interruptions will mean the world to them!

Recieving gifts: This person has a giving spirit and loves to give and recieve gifts. Monetary amount does not matter. This person uses gifts as a symbol or token of love. 

Physical touch: This person likes to holds hands, hug, or kiss. This person feels connected and close when they are in contact with another physically. 

Words of affirmation: People in this category feel loved when they are built up by kind words. Compliments are the way to this person’s heart!

What is your love language and how does that influence the ways in which you interact with others?

Find out your love language at http://www.5lovelanguages.com

“Dear younger me”

The lyrics of the MercyMe song, dear younger me, are inspiring. How many of us have said to ourselves something to the effect of,”if I knew then what I know now.” We ponder how our lives would be different or the ways in which we could change our past. We select an age or moment in our lives that we could go back to and shift things around. We create these images in our mind of a “better today” because we changed our yesterday.

 However, every decision made in life shapes you into the person you are today. Living with regret over something that cannot change is a heavy burden. Regret can lead to shame, guilt, and depression.When we blame ourselves for our past there is a deep loss that happens.

 A metaphor for the ebb and flow of life I like to use is that we are like diamonds. Diamonds are formed deep within the earth after a combination of high temperature and pressure. In life one may go through situations that seem intense and rough. However, once you make it through the pressure you come out a better person. 

MercyMe’s song talks about going back in time and speaking to a younger version of himself. Through the course of the song you can see how the singer is empowered and able to move forward from his past. The song takes us through the singers journey from regret into redemption. In the beginning of the song he thinks over the heartache in his life and all the things he should say to prevent them. However, by the end of the song he is empowered and states he would have never been the person he is now if he had not gone through his experiences. By speaking of his past he was able to gain insight into the positive ways his experiences created who he was today.

” Every mountain, every valley, through each heartache you will see, every moment brings you closer to who you were meant to be. Dear younger me, dear younger me, you are free indeed.” -MercyMe  (dear younger me).

I think this is a beautiful depiction of life experiences. We cannot go back in time and change our past. However, we can learn from the mistakes we have made and help others who may be going in the same direction we did.  Do not let your past define you. You can’t rewrite your past, but you can take control of what is written in your future. Let your past prepare you not define you.

How have you let regret of your past influence your life? What are some ways your negative past experiences have positively shaped you today? 

How to alleviate negative emotion

Have you ever felt angry, depressed, or anxious about a situation? Whenever you feel overcome by intense emotion it is time to check in on your thoughts. Little do we know we have “automatic thoughts” that are cued during every event we encounter.

For example, if your friend is late to dinner. There maybe a fleeting thought, “here we go again, can she be on time for once”?! We may not hone in on the thought, but it’s there. This thought leads to a negative emotion: anger, sadness, regret. 

It is common for us to believe that an event causes our emotions. In actuality our thoughts cause our emotion. It was not the friend being late that caused the angered reaction, it was the thoughts behind it…”here we go again, can she be on time for once”?!

When we feel negative emotion it is time to reflect on our thoughts and actively can change them. If the automatic thought instead was, “I hope traffic is not to bad” the reaction changes to concern. If the automatic thought was changed to, “she keeps me on my toes” the reaction would be comical. We have the power over our thoughts. Whenever we feel upset its time to combat negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones! 

When was the last to you checked your inner thoughts?