5 Steps to Rising Above Fear/Anxiety
So it’s no secret that mental health is really important to me. If you follow me on Instagram it’s practically all I ever post about - especially when I’m sharing other’s posts on my stories.
The reason it’s such a big deal to me is because I literally inherited a grocery list of mental illness from both sides of my family.
My parents talked a lot about mental *illness* growing up, but not a lot about how to achieve mental *health*.
My mom shared openly about the suicide, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, etc. that plagued her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunts...you get the picture. On my dads side, I actually came in contact with some of the mentally ill people he warned me about. He also openly shared about his traumatizing childhood and all the ways he swore I’d never experience those things. (Except that I did. But that’s a story for another time)
Though they openly shared their experiences, the major thing that was lacking was any guidance on how to stop the cycle.
My mom tried her best to teach me how to remain healthy and spoke positivity over me by believing that I was safe from those things. Telling me that she prayed for healing while I was in utero. Sharing all the ways she had and would continue to protect me. Guiding me to the church and Jesus and truly believing that having religion in my life would save me.
What wasn’t talked about is how mental health isn’t something you’re born with. Mental illness is not something you avoid simply by having a relatively good upbringing or a WWJD bracelet to keep you on the right path.
I grew up in a time that mental health talk was very new, and not something people talked about everyday. So I truly don’t blame my parents for not knowing how to teach me about mental health. They were overcoming their own past trauma, and my mom lead by example through her consistent appointments with her therapist and an active lifestyle.
However, I walked through life believing that I was healthy, so I was blissfully unaware of all the ways my anxiety and fear was growing and rooting itself in my mindset, choices, daily thoughts, etc.
I can’t really remember when I started approaching the mental health community and educating myself...but it was probably around 2 or 3 years ago. I’ve really jumped in headfirst this year though.
My anxiety cost me a couple of jobs, it was killing my relationship with my husband, it cost me friendships (due to too many cancelled plans and becoming a hermit), but most of all it cost me my physical health.
I began rapidly gaining weight, I was diagnosed with a few health conditions (PCOS, endometriosis, IBS-M, etc.), and I began contemplating suicide.
In my mind, death was better than suffering like this every minute of every day.
To my friends and family I seemed fine. I was good at smiling through the pain. I made sure to avoid triggering topics. I drank a lot of coffee and smoked weed for a little while. I slipped into an alcohol habit that destroyed my stomach but numbed my panic attacks. So to most, I was fine. I knew how to manipulate my image just enough that even my closest friends had no idea how bad things were getting.
My husband was depressed and felt responsible - meanwhile I was also depressed and felt responsible for him. So we didn’t talk much. Mostly fought or silently ignored one another. We were in survival mode and it seemed never ending.
Finally we made some big life changes, and with that we also found a counselor. (I’m writing a totally separate blog about that by the way! Keep an eye out!)
I started seeing posts from the mental health community. I deconstructed a lot of my religious beliefs that were chains around my neck, instead of the freedom it was sold to me as.
I spent a lot of time pursuing self-care and learning about what truly loving yourself looked like.
And little by little I arrived here.
I’m no where near perfect. Fear and anxiety still hold me captive some days...but I’ve learned some tricks along the way for how to manage them in a healthy way.
One of the first things I did, during the thick of it, was learn about nutrition and supplementation.
I’m a huge advocate for seeking out professional help and getting on medication if you feel like that’s what you need.
But for me, I wanted to go the natural route first. I wasn’t suicidal in that season (otherwise I absolutely would have gotten on medication), so I felt like this would be a good time to try it out.
I started out by reducing stimulants. Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol were the first to go. Cold turkey. That was hard and the withdrawals made me depressed and weak with a constant migraine. So I decided to wean off of caffeine but still cold turkey sugar and alcohol.
I learned about foods and vitamins that helped with anxiety and some of my other health conditions.
I learned that hormones are responsible for anxiety, and balanced hormones rely on a healthy/properly functioning gut. So I did some work healing my gut.
This meant getting in more fiber, taking supplements for Vitamin D and Magnesium, and avoiding gut stressors like gluten, dairy, a heavily spicy foods (my favorite!).
I honestly can tell you cutting out caffeine and alcohol made a HUGE difference - along with sugar, though I still have small amounts here and there. I feel like shit if I consume too much caffeine or have more than one glass of alcohol now. So to me, it’s not even a temptation these days.
I feel like I could go on forever about all the ways I’ve assisted by body physically, but I think I’ll write a whole post just about that one day soon.
Next up I learned about the mindset part of anxiety. We rarely allow ourselves to rest. Which leads to not getting restful sleep, or any sleep at all.
So I started meditating and doing yoga. These two things have taught me the value of being still with Spirit and opening ourselves up to whatever we’ve been avoiding but need to address.
I find that sitting in the stillness of meditation sets me up for a better day - even if I only did it for 15 minutes!
Yoga forces me back into my body, when I so often try to get up in my head or even try to numb myself altogether.
Then I started tracking my water intake. I always thought I was a good water drinker just by the fact that I only ever drank water and coffee. But I quickly realized that I wasn’t drinking enough.
So when I started tracking my water intake, that helped a ton too. Why you might ask? Because water is responsible for distributing vitamins and other nutrients throughout the body in an efficient and balanced way. If you’re not getting in enough water (half your body weight in ounces) that your organs aren’t functioning at optimal level, you nutrients aren’t being distributed properly, and your body goes into survival mode where it begins to store things like sugars and fats that it doesn’t actually need.
All of this made such a huge difference and prepped me for the big moments that were coming my way.
Once I prepped myself physically and mentally, it was time to dig into my trauma. (This will also be a separate blog, as the whole story is quite long)
Anxiety isn’t a disease so much as it’s a red flag of something deeper going on inside of you.
For me, it was a red flag saying “Hey, you’ve got some repressed trauma you’ve never acknowledged or dealt with soo...it’s time we start dealing with that.”
For you it could be something different. But the most important thing is to still yourself, ask yourself “What could this anxiety be telling me? What triggered it?” And don’t be afraid to dive into that. If you’re confused, talk about it with someone who can help you sort it all out.
So to recap! (I know that was a lot of information.) Here’s how I began my journey to rising above my anxiety and fear:
Learn about nutrition for anxiety and any other conditions you might be struggling with
Follow advocates in the mental health community
Read books and articles about mental health
Make small changes each day to pursue healing
Give yourself grace when it doesn’t work out exactly how you want it to every day
Take supplements while you make life changes
Ashwagandha, magnesium, vitamin D, turmeric, green tea extract, etc. are all great supplements to start with to help your body fight off anxiety naturally (click here if you want to buy the supplements I use and love!). These supplements also help me to sleep better at night which is crucial for reducing anxiety.
Try meditation and/or yoga
Check out resources like Headspace, Calm, Yoga with Adriene, Find What Feels Good, etc.
Time to start tackling some of that repressed trauma or at least recognizing whatever it is that your red flags are trying to show you
You can do this on your own, through meditation, prayer, journaling, etc.
I also recommend meeting with a professional to help guide you. There are tons of holistic therapists out there that can hold your hand as you walk this difficult journey
That’s it! Those are the 5 choices I’ve made to rise above fear and tackle my anxiety every day.
These tricks apply to so many things in my life. When I’m afraid to get on a rollercoaster, I meditate. When I’m panicking because my life isn’t turning out how I wanted it to, I do yoga. When I’m feeling jittery or overwhelmed, I avoid stimulants and up my supplements a little bit.
I hope this helped! If it did, please leave me comment on any of my social media platforms! I’d love to hear from you!