We live in trying times: a pandemic, a petulant child in the White House, a broken economy…chances are your anxiety has shot through the roof. I have coped with anxiety since before I can remember, but I always thought my nervous tendencies were normal. I realized this struggle, while real, did not impede the lives of many others until well into my 20s. I can at least thank anxiety for always pushing me to study in an attempt to ward off failing exams.
Heart rate changes, nail biting, sweating out of nowhere, muscle tension, tightening in your chest, teeth grinding, stifled breathing…been there. Still there. And in my becoming of a more formulated adult taking on the stressors of a civil service job working for the government, I learned the forms of chronic anxiety, even on medication. I still incur GI pains, specifically heartburn, anytime I look at a loaf of bread. At one point, major headaches and TMJ plagued my health. Now I cope with fibromyalgia. Yet, I possess no sign of tissue damage.
Anxiety is a dastardly beast. Are you even in your mech meatsuit driver’s seat? It hijacks your nervous system and punches the high alert button in the middle of your brain so you’re constantly in fight-or-flight mode. Anxiety and pain are besties. They feed off each other. A vicious cycle. When everyone else began to fall apart at the beginning of the quarantine shitstorm, I felt a semblance of relief–Now everyone knew the strife I’d felt for years. Perpetual burnout with seemingly no end in sight.
But you have tools…
Your mind and body are intertwined. I am unaware of any magic pills to make my anxiety go away, but calming techniques to simmer down my nervous system help immensely. Meditation works wonders as does practicing relaxation exercises. You can try cognitive reframing and present moment awareness. If at all possible, consider seeing a therapist. I even go a step further to tackle my pain through expressive writing.
You’re not alone, Lovelies. Coping with anxiety and improving mental health, like physical health, requires practice and perseverance.
You’ve got this.